February 9, 2016
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 423, the Newborn Care Improvement Act, which was authored by Congressman Collins. This legislation, which was part of a larger package of bills called the Veterans Employment, Education, and Healthcare Improvement Act, will extend the amount of time newborn children of female veterans will be covered by VA benefits, from 7 days to 42 days. Because of factors like PTSD and combat injuries, many female veterans face high-risk pregnancies, and this increase in VA maternity benefits will provide for extra time in the hospital, should their baby need it.
Congressman Collins spoke earlier today on the House floor in support of the bill:
Mr. Speaker, today I rise in support of H.R. 3016, the Veterans Employment, Education, and Healthcare Improvement Act.
I want to thank my colleague from Ohio, Mr. Wenstrup, for bringing this important legislation to the floor, including language from my legislation, H.R. 423, concerning VA post-delivery care services.
I also want to thank my colleague from Tennessee, for his amendment that would extend the coverage for a female veteran’s post-delivery care to 42 days.
Female veterans face unique challenges, especially when many of the services available to them are designed for males. One of the most significant problems female veterans face is access to healthcare.
Currently, the VA is only authorized to provide up to 7 days of post-delivery care for a female veterans newborn baby. Mr. Roes’ amendment will expand coverage to 42 days, the length that the VA currently provides for mothers.
Females represent the fastest growing group of veterans who are enrolling in VA health care, and many of them are mothers, or soon will be. It is past time for the VA to expand its care and services to meet female veteran’s needs.
These women have risked their lives to protect our nation, and our responsibility to them doesn’t end when they are no longer serving in active duty. In fact, their service to our country may jeopardize the very lives of their future children meaning our responsibility to them is even greater.
Research shows that having PTSD in the year before delivery increases a woman’s risk of premature delivery by 35 percent. Premature infants typically need long hospitalizations after they are born. I know what it’s like to be the parent of a little baby who needed intensive medical care for an extended period the moment she was born.
Any new mother, who has given selflessly to her country, shouldn’t have to worry about Congress standing in her way as she tries to give selflessly to her own child.
I thank my colleagues and Chairman Miller for their leadership on this issue, and I urge passage of this bill.
I yield back.