by: ASRM Office of Public Affairs
Orginally published in ASRM Bulletin Volume 18, Number 26
Both the House and Senate have now finally passed, and sent to President Obama for his expected signature, HR 5325, a bill which funds the government for the start of Fiscal Year 2017. The bill contains two provisions of particular importance to ASRM members.
First, it contains authorization for the Veterans Administration to provide fertility counseling, adoption reimbursement, and ART services to veterans who sustained service related injuries which have impaired their fertility.
As you know, the VA has been unable to provide these services until now, while active duty services members with these same injuries are provided access to this care. Fixing this gap in coverage for our veterans has been a major goal of ASRM and the highest priority for our advocacy efforts. The hard work of all of you has been a vital component in our fight to right this wrong. Many of you came to Washington to lobby on this issue, spoke to your Members of Congress at home, called, wrote, tweeted, posted and authored opinion pieces about this issue. Every one of these actions was important and played a part in this important achievement. ASRM also worked collectively with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and a coalition of veterans organizations over the past several years to advocate for this coverage for wounded veterans. ASRM is proud to have worked to help advance this legislation, introduced more than five years ago by Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Rick Larsen, and to gain the support of many other Members of Congress, including Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Charlie Dent.
It is important to understand that our work is not done. ASRM will be working with leadership at the VA to assure that implementation of this program goes smoothly and quickly. Every indication we have had is that our colleagues at the VA are as anxious as we are to make this service available to our veterans.
We will also need to be diligent to protect this and other federal programs that promote access to needed reproductive services. As this measure wound its way through Congress, we saw efforts to derail and defund it and related programs. We can only assume we will continue to see such efforts, and we will need to fight them again.
HR 5325 also includes over $1 billion dollars in desperately needed funding to fight the Zika virus. ASRM worked with a number of other organizations including the March of Dimes and ACOG to secure these badly needed funds and to keep them free of unwarranted restrictions. ASRM’s own Zika Task Force will continue its work, but now the federal government can bring greater resources to bear.
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