03.23.21

Rounds-Backed Bill to Expand Vaccine Access for Vets & Caregivers Heads to President’s Desk

Bill would provide COVID-19 vaccine services to all vets, spouses, & caregivers at the VA

WASHINGTON – The Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to veterans and their families under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This legislation now heads to the president's desk to be signed into law.

The Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize all Veterans and Every Spouse (SAVE LIVES) Act would allow the VA to provide COVID-19 vaccination services to all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers, and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) recipients to the extent that such vaccines are available. It also urges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to adjust the VA's vaccine allocation based on this increased eligibility pool, as much as the supply chain allows.

“Every South Dakota veteran, spouse, and caregiver should have access to the COVID-19 vaccine through the VA,” said Rounds. “Our bipartisan legislation expands the VA’s authority to vaccinate our American heroes and their caregivers, so we can continue to safely return our country back to normal. I urge President Biden to sign our legislation into law.”

The SAVE LIVES Act will expand VA's authority to provide vaccines to:

  • Veterans who are not eligible for enrollment in VA's health care system, including veterans without compensable service-connected disabilities and veterans who have incomes above a certain threshold;
  • Caregivers of veterans who are enrolled in various VA home-based and long-term care programs;
  • Spouses of veterans; and
  • CHAMPVA recipients (spouses of permanently and totally disabled veterans or of veterans who have died from service-connected disabilities).

Senator Rounds joined this bill led by VA Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and cosponsors Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Margaret Hassan (D-N.H.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).

Text of the SAVE LIVES Act can be found here.

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