VAM Email Alert: April 2019

APRIL 2019


Keeping Our Promises Act Would Provide Benefits for More Agent Orange Diseases

A group of lawmakers introduced legislation that would add nine more diseases to a list of conditions presumed to be caused by the chemical herbicide Agent Orange, giving veterans who suffer from them a fast-track to Department of Veterans Affairs disability compensation and health care.

The Keeping Our Promises Act, H.R. 2200 introduced April 10th, adds prostate cancer, bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, hypertension, stroke, early-onset peripheral neuropathy, AL amyoloidosis, ischemic heart disease and Parkinson-like syndromes to a list of diseases presumed to be caused by Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War.

“This bipartisan legislation makes good on that promise by ensuring all servicemembers exposed to these herbicides and chemicals as a part of their military service get the health care they need,” Rep. Boyle (D – PA 2nd) said in a statement. “Not one more servicemember should be forced to suffer in this way without the best care our federal government has to offer.”

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act Update

As of April 22nd, H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 has reached 323 cosponsors out of the 435 members of the House. The bipartisan bill currently sits in the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

As a reminder, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit changed the political dynamic in January when it ruled in favor of Alfred Procopio Jr. He served on the U.S.S. Intrepid during the war and was rejected for VA benefits for his diabetes and prostate cancer. The government has linked both ailments to Agent Orange exposure. The court ruling requires the VA to cover the costs of extending the benefits to Blue Water veterans, regardless of whether Congress passes its own legislation. However, H.R. 299 would cement the intent and right of Blue Water veteran benefits into law and not leave implementation up to administrative interpretation.

The Justice Department has until April 29 to decide whether it will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment about her agency’s plans. But VA Secretary Robert Wilkie recently told federal lawmakers he has recommended that the Trump administration not appeal the ruling.

If the Federal Court verdict stands, Sen. Johnny Isakson, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee has vowed to work with the VA to implement the ruling. Isakson said he wants to make Blue Water Navy veterans benefits “simple and right. That’s what I intend to do.”

Washington Examiner Publishes Op-Ed by IMF’s Danielle Doheny

On April 20, 2019, an Op-Ed authored by Danielle Doheny, IMF’s Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, was published in The Washington Examiner. Danielle wrote of her family’s experience with myeloma and focused on the importance of oral parity legislation. Oral parity legislation ensures insurers treat oral chemotherapy drugs similarly to IV therapies. For more information to contact your Member of Congress and Senators about H.R. 1730 and S. 741.


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