**Murray plans to introduce bill with speech on Senate floor at 11am PT/2pm ET TODAY**
Murray bill would expand DoD’s current fertility treatment programs, end VA ban on in vitro fertilization (IVF)
Murray: “The men and women who serve in our military put their lives and bodies on the line for our country, and the least we can do is provide them with the health care services they need when they get home, including access to fertility treatments”
Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced a bill to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide reproductive services, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), to servicemembers, veterans and their families who have suffered catastrophic wounds of war that prevent them from starting families. The Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015 would expand the current fertility services offered to servicemembers and their families by DoD, and end the ban on in vitro fertilization services at the VA.
“The men and women who serve in our military put their lives and bodies on the line for our country, and the least we can do is provide them with the health care services they need when they get home, including access to fertility treatments,” said Senator Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Because of outdated policies at the Pentagon and the VA, thousands of seriously ill or injured veterans cannot access reproductive services like in vitro fertilization, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars from private providers. When we send men and women to war, we promise to take care of them when they return home. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to fill this shocking gap in care for our seriously injured servicemembers and veterans.”
After more than a decade of war, thousands of servicemembers and veterans struggle with fertility and reproductive health. While VA and DoD offer some forms of fertility treatment and counseling, far too often they fail to meet the needs of these seriously injured servicemembers and veterans. Today, severely injured servicemembers are faced with the choice of pursuing these treatments before separation or paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket later. Severely injured veterans do not have a choice at all. The cost of IVF treatments is about $7,000 per cycle within the Military Health System, but almost doubles to $12,400 (and above) per cycle for civilians or veterans who currently cannot receive these services from VA because of the ban.
Data from DoD shows that between 2003 and 2013, more than 2,300 servicemembers have suffered reproductive and urinary tract trauma. The reliance on foot patrols in Afghanistan and the prevalence of improvised explosive devices has left servicemembers far more susceptible to these injuries.
Though DoD currently provides IVF, too many servicemembers are excluded from eligibility for this and other treatments. The VA is completely barred from providing IVF services because of an outdated law. Senator Murray’s bill would expand VA and DoD’s current fertility treatment and counseling offerings and empower severely injured servicemembers and veterans to start families when the time is right for them. The bill would lift VA’s assisted reproductive technology (ART) ban (of which IVF is the most popular and successful treatment) and expand ART treatments beyond DoD’s current policy limitations. Senator Murray’s bill would also provide access to fertility treatment for spouses, allow VA to provide adoption assistance, and make permanent the highly successful child care pilot program in VA.