Military Members: New Fertility Benefit Available
Last month, the United States Senate passed a large appropriations bill that included a provision that would give military veterans who are infertile as a result of combat-related injuries insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization (IVF). This amendment is part of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2017, and passed by a strong bipartisan vote of 23-7.
If approved, this amendment will undo a law passed in 1992 that made it illegal for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay for IVF. It would provide $88 million, $18 million in fiscal 2017 and $70 million in 2018, for treatments for veterans and their spouses if the veteran has a service-connected condition that made it impossible to have children otherwise.
Current Situation for Injured War Veterans
Currently, the Pentagon’s health care system for active-duty troops covers IVF for wounded soldiers but the VA does not cover IVF for veterans, even those who were forced into retirement due to combat or training-related injuries. And too often, by the time veterans learn that IVF is only covered for active-duty troops, it is too late. With the current ban, retired service members are forced to cover the expense of IVF out of their own pocket, which can cost more than $12,000 per cycle. This bill would drastically change the lives of thousands of veterans who have suffered damage to their reproductive organs over the past decade. Many veterans who cannot conceive on their own say that having children will help them feel whole again.
The VA offers some forms of fertility treatment and counseling, but these options do not always meet the needs of injured veterans. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproduction Technology (SART) joined together to try and offer assistance with services that are not covered by the TRICARE military health care program for retired veterans. The Service to Veterans program makes procedures like sperm extraction, egg freezing, embryo preservation, artificial insemination, and IVF more accessible for retired military personnel.
While more and more people are joining together to help veterans receive the resources necessary to start a family, the passing of this bill would further aid them in getting the treatment they need.
Overturning the VA Ban
This is not the first time that people have tried to overturn the VA ban. Previous efforts have failed due to funding concerns, but many Senators believe that veterans have sacrificed enough of their lives to defend our freedom. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who introduced this bill and has been a tireless advocate for veterans for years, said, “This amendment is about fulfilling our promise to the military families who we ask to sacrifice and serve our country on our behalf… I will be fighting to see this through to the end so this country can keep up its commitment to care for our veterans and their spouses who dream of having a family.”
This isn’t the first time Senator Murray has introduced a bill to help the veterans. In previous bills, Murray pushed for veterans and families to be assisted with adoption services, third-party donor and surrogacy options, but then pulled it from the floor because lawmakers threatened to insert “poison-pill” amendments that would hurt the entire package when it came time to vote.
Now that the bill has passed in the Senate by a large margin, Senator Murray expressed hope that it receives the same support from the House of Representatives.
Here at NYU Langone RSofNY, we are truly honored to use our talents to help veterans in need of fertility treatment. We try our best to offer our procedures at affordable prices for veterans while we wait for Congress to lift the ban on covering IVF. To find out more about our discounts and eligibility criteria, please contact us today.