Tester, Moran, Brown, Blumenthal Lead Bipartisan Push to Provide No-Cost, At-Home COVID-19 Test Kits to Veterans Nationwide
Senators urge timely action from VA Secretary McDonough: “we must ensure veterans are not left behind in this effort to expand testing access”
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are leading a bipartisan push to provide veterans nationwide access to no-cost, at-home COVID-19 test kits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“We write today to request the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provide veterans with access to no-cost, at-home COVID-19 test kits, given the unprecedented surge of COVID-19 and the omicron variant across the nation,” wrote the Senators in a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “[W]e must ensure veterans are not left behind in this effort to expand testing access…[they] deserve to have every available tool to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19, and at-home tests are one useful approach for limiting the spread within communities and VA facilities.”
In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases among the veteran population have reached all-time highs. As of January 19, the Department recorded 55,202 veterans with active COVID-19 infections-3,175 of whom are hospitalized at VA. Reports also show that nearly 13,000 VA health care employees were unable to report to work due to COVID-19, which is more than double the amount at last winter’s peak.
The Senators continued, “Those who have served our country in uniform and receive health care services at VA deserve to have equal access to no-cost, at-home COVID-19 testing, just as those in the private sector. These tests could be used before planned gatherings, before attending a VA health care appointment, or when symptoms arise but the veteran is far from the nearest VA…We hope you will take timely action to deliver parity for those who have selflessly served our nation.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Senators have fought to ensure veterans and their families have the protections they need to get through this public health emergency. Last March, they successfully championed their Strengthening and Amplifying Vaccination Efforts to Locally Immunize all Veterans and Every Spouse (SAVE LIVES) Act-a bipartisan law allowing VA to provide no-cost COVID vaccination services to all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers, and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs recipients.
Read the Senators’ full letter HERE.