03.26.10

Burr Proposal to Protect Healthcare for Veterans and Military Families Clears Senate

Today, the United States Senate passed legislation cosponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) to correct serious technical errors in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that put veterans, widows and widowers, and certain dependents at risk. "Our nation's veterans and their families have sacrificed of themselves on behalf of our security, and we owe them the best health care available," Burr said. "I was proud to cosponsor this legislation that will protect the health care that these individuals have earned through their service to our nation."Under the Democrats' health reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, "minimum essential coverage" requirements for health insurance did not clearly include TRICARE; the VA Spina Bifida Program for children of Agent Orange veterans; and CHAMPVA, a health care program for spouses and dependent children of veterans who died, or are profoundly disabled, as a result of military service. Senator Burr was concerned that without a change in the language of President Obama's broad sweeping healthcare reform provisions, these beneficiaries could have been required to pay for additional insurance. With the support of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans, Senator Burr offered an amendment to the health care reconciliation bill to maintain the integrity of the health care systems of the VA and the DOD and ensure that the authority of the Secretary of the Department of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs would not be obstructed by any provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Senator Burr's amendment also ensured that nothing in the Democrats' health bill would affect benefits provided under TRICARE or VA health care programs and that "minimum essential coverage" under the Democrats' health reform bill would include coverage under TRICARE and all VA health care programs. Burr's raising of the issue spurred a bi-partisan effort to advance legislation to the President for signature. Senator Burr and Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) worked closely to resolve differences between the original Burr proposal and the language ultimately agreed to by the Senate.