Larsen Lauds VA Move to Enact Expansion of Veterans Reproductive Healthcare Included in Congressional Spending Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today veterans who have been wounded in the line of duty can access in vitro fertilization (IVF) through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA’s announcement follows years of Larsen’s advocacy, and a provision passed as part of the Congressional spending bill in September 2016 which temporarily circumvented a 1992 ban on in vitro fertilization for veterans.
“It is great to see the VA moving forward to expand reproductive healthcare for veterans,” said Larsen, a senior member on the House Armed Services Committee. “I applaud this progress, and I will keep fighting until the ban is permanently lifted.”
The provision that temporarily lifted the ban – which was originally included in the Senate version of the bill by Senator Murray (D-WA) – allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide assisted reproductive technology and adoption reimbursement to veterans, and comes after a four year effort on the part of Larsen and Murray. Previously, the VA was able to provide veterans with fertility assessments, counseling and some treatments but not IVF – the most popular and successful assisted reproductive technology available today – which forced veterans to pay thousands of dollars to address fertility issues from service-connected injuries.
Thousands of servicemembers suffer battlefield injuries that make it difficult or nearly impossible to have children without medical assistance, and a single IVF treatment can cost $12,000 or more.
In 2016, Larsen held a press conference in front of the U.S. Capitol with families of wounded veterans and the Wounded Warrior Project to urge an end to the ban. In May of that year, Larsen teamed up with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to urge the VA to work with Congress to help injured veterans access advanced fertility treatments.
For years Larsen has been the House of Representatives’ leading voice for expanding reproductive care for veterans. In the 2015 Veterans Affairs spending bill Larsen pushed the Department to analyze the prevalence of infertility among veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, in April of 2016 the VA announced that IVF treatment is consistent with its goal to support veterans and improve their quality of life – meaning that Congress has been the final barrier between affected veterans and the healthcare they need to start families.