May 25 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing on pending legislation to improve veterans’ health care and benefits, five of which were bills co-introduced by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC).

“Today’s hearing demonstrates how members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee constantly check their partisan labels and ideologies at the door in order to improve the quality of life for the brave men and women who have served our nation,” said Senator Tillis. “It’s been an honor to work across party lines to advance commonsense legislation aimed at reducing wait times at the VA and ensuring that all veterans have access to the health care and support they need and deserve.”

Watch Senator Tillis’ remarks here.

The pending Tillis-sponsored legislation discussed at today’s hearing included:

The Helping Veterans Exposed to Burn Pits Act, which was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Thom Tillis (R-NC). The legislation directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a center of excellence within the VA to address the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, and rehabilitation of health conditions relating to exposure to toxic burn pits. Senators Klobuchar and Tillis recently penned a Fox News op-ed in support of their legislation.

The Newborn Care Improvement Act, which was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Thom Tillis (R-NC). The legislation doubles the length of care the VA provides to newborn children. Currently, when women veterans give birth, their newborns are covered for care by the VA for only 7 days or less. If the female veteran does not get private care for the newborn, they will not have health coverage after 7 days. The Klobuchar-Tillis legislation would double the period of coverage from 7 days to 14.

The Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act, which was introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Jon Tester (D-MT). The legislation directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to identify mental health care and suicide prevention programs and metrics that are effective in treating women veterans as part of the evaluation of such programs by the Secretary.

The Janey Ensminger Act of 2016, which was introduced by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Bill Nelson (D-FL). The legislation amends the Public Health Service Act with respect to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s review and publication of illness and conditions relating to veterans stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and their family members. The bill is named in honor of Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger’s daughter Janey, who was only nine-years-old when she died from a rare form of leukemia after being exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune.

The Care Veterans Deserve Act of 2016, which introduced by Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The legislation aims to improve access to timely care for veterans by expanding access to care at the VA while enhancing choice and flexibility for veterans’ health care options. The legislation supplements and expands on the major reforms enacted by the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, which was signed into law in the wake of the scandal of denied and delayed care at VA hospitals around the country.