Washington, D.C. – In a bipartisan effort to reform and improve how veterans exposed to toxic substances receive health care and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), U.S. Senator Susan Collins co-sponsored the Toxic Exposure in the American Military (TEAM) Act that was introduced by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH). Senator Collins cosponsored the TEAM Act after hearing directly from Maine veterans who support the bill.
“American men and women who were exposed to toxic substances while bravely serving our nation in uniform deserve the full health care benefits that they earned,” said Senator Collins. “Despite the hazards they faced, these veterans fulfilled their duty, and it is our responsibility to ensure they receive the appropriate treatments free of charge. I have heard from many Maine veterans about how this legislation will make it easier for them to access the care they deserve.”
Specifically, the TEAM Act would:
· Expand VA health care for veterans exposed to toxic substances. Treatment for conditions related to toxic exposures will be covered free of charge. Enrolled veterans will be eligible for treatment for unrelated conditions, but those services may be subject to a co-pay.
· Require VA to respond to new scientific evidence regarding diseases associated with toxic exposure and establish new presumptions of service connection when supported by the science.
· Ensure VA enters into agreements with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to review scientific studies regarding associations between diseases and exposure to toxic substances during military service.
· Establish an independent scientific commission to assist the VA in determining the health effects of toxic exposure in veterans and report the commission’s findings to VA and Congress.
· Expand training on toxic exposure issues for VA health care personnel.
· Require VA to develop a questionnaire for primary care appointments to determine whether a veteran may have been exposed to toxic substances during service.
In addition to Senator Collins, the legislation was co-sponsored by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
Click HERE to read a summary of the bill.
Click HERE to read the full text of the bill.