Underwood’s Bipartisan Bill to Reduce Health Care Costs and Protect Veterans’ Access to Health Care Passes House of Representatives

May 19, 2020
Press Release
Legislation ensures veterans do not have to pay copays for coronavirus preventive services

WASHINGTON— Congresswoman Lauren Underwood’s (IL-14) legislation to reduce COVID-19-related health care costs for veterans passed the House of Representatives. The bipartisan legislation would ensure that veterans who receive health care from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) are not liable for out-of-pocket costs for preventive services related to the novel coronavirus, including an eventual vaccine. The legislation, originally introduced as the No Coronavirus Copays for Veterans Act, passed as part of the Heroes Act on May 15.

“All Americans deserve quality, affordable health care, especially our veterans who have sacrificed so much to protect our country. As we face the coronavirus pandemic, we cannot forget the brave heroes who serve our country—that’s why I have worked to ensure our nation’s veterans will not face financial barriers to novel coronavirus preventive services, including an eventual vaccine,” said Underwood. “I’m pleased that the House passed this important legislation, and our nation’s veterans are one step closer to more affordable care.”

In March, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which waived copays for qualifying items, services, or immunizations intended to prevent or mitigate coronavirus—including an eventual vaccine—for Medicare beneficiaries and privately insured individuals. However, the CARES Act did not extend these protections to veterans receiving VHA care. The No Coronavirus Copays for Veterans Act corrects this loophole to ensure that veterans are equally protected. The legislation is co-led by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Representatives Julia Brownley (CA-26), Lee Zeldin (NY-01), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01).

The Heroes Act builds upon previously passed measures to address the public health crisis and provide desperately needed support for families and essential workers, with resources for coronavirus testing and tracing, key support for frontline workers, and strengthened financial assistance for individuals and small businesses.

This is the second piece of legislation that Underwood has introduced to lower health care costs for veterans and eliminate copays faced by our nation’s heroes. The Veterans Preventive Health Coverage Fairness Act (H.R. 3932) would ensure parity by removing copay requirements for preventive services and medications recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Health Resources & Services Administration.