Sending Office: Honorable Elise M. Stefanik
In honor of Hepatitis Awareness Month
Support Vietnam-Era Veterans access to Hepatitis C Testing
May 17, 2018
We invite you to cosponsor the Vietnam Era Veterans Hepatitis C Testing Enhancement Act (reintroducing
H.R.5922 from the 115th Congress). This bill seeks to provide for a pilot project to study the benefits of implementing enhanced eligibility for all Vietnam and Vietnam Era Veterans for the purposes of facilitating access to existing hepatitis
C testing through the Veterans Health Administration (VA).
Congress dedicated specific resources to enable the VA to test and treat Veterans for the hepatitis C virus (HCV), and VA has made significant progress to date. However, these efforts primarily focused on Veterans enrolled in the VA, testing only 78% of
the two million Vietnam-era Veterans enrolled in VA care. This does not consider former service members that do not meet VA eligibility criteria, effectively leaving as many as seven million considered at high-risk for infection unaware of their status.
The true prevalence of HVC is unknown, but an increased prevalence among the “baby boomer” generation is well documented and includes those who served during the Vietnam Era. At this time, service members at basic training sites were unknowingly being exposed
to HCV, including through mandatory jet gun-based group inoculations (which are now banned by the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense). Medical literature shows that Vietnam Era Veterans are at up to 10 times higher risk than the general
population for having HCV.
The Vietnam Era Veterans Hepatitis C Testing Enhancement Act focuses on HCV screening and does not take away from the VA’s efforts, rather enhances them. In order to reach all high-risk Veterans, the pilot program adopts an enhanced eligibility framework
that is based on the precedent established by the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act (P.L.112-154), which opens testing to any honorably discharged
Vietnam or Vietnam Era service member who served between February 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975
regardless of current affiliation with the VA. The bill maintains budget neutrality by utilizing previously allocated resources provided by Congress to the VA for HCV activities.
If you would like to cosponsor the bill, or if you have any questions, please contact
Cheryl Shefchik (x 54611) in Rep. Elise Stefanik’s office.
Elise M. Stefanik
Member of Congress
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