Harder Presses White House to Cover Health Care for Vietnam Vets after Administration Blocks Access
Harder Introduces Bicameral Resolution, Contacts White House
WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) is working to reverse a decision from White House Chief of Staff and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney which would leave an estimated 83,000 Vietnam Veterans without access to health care for certain conditions. Currently, Vietnam Veterans with specific health care problems developed as the result of exposure to Agent Orange during their service get “presumptive” access to coverage at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Last year, former VA Secretary David Shulkin attempted to add four more conditions to the list after sufficient evidence linked these conditions to Agent Orange exposure, but White House Chief of Staff and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney intervened to prevent their addition.
Rep. Harder Recently Spoke on the House Floor Regarding this Issue
“My grandfather served in Vietnam, was exposed to Agent Orange, and died from a heart attack as the result of his service – but his story is not uncommon. I refuse to stand by and let other veterans die because they didn’t get the healthcare they need,” said Rep. Harder. “Some bureaucrat shouldn’t be able to block health care for all these folks just to save a buck. It’s rotten, and it’s not who we are.”
Representative Harder introduced a House Resolution – as a companion to a Senate Resolution introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – to encourage the president to add Parkinsonism, bladder cancer, hypertension, and hypothyroidism to the list of presumptive medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure. Although the four conditions listed in the resolution have been scientifically proven to be linked to Agent Orange exposure by the National Academies of Medicine (NAM), these four conditions are not currently covered. Shulkin attempted to add these four conditions to the list of covered conditions in 2017, but records obtained by Military Times and FOIA requests indicate that Mick Mulvaney and OMB intervened to prevent the addition of these conditions over cost concerns.
In addition to introducing the resolution, Rep. Harder, along with House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) have written a letter directly to Mick Mulvaney demanding that he stop his campaign to prevent these veterans from obtaining health care coverage for their conditions.
In June, President Trump signed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act into law, legislation Rep. Harder cosponsored and voted to pass through the House of Representatives. The new law will guarantee that Navy Veterans get the same access to coverage for Agent Orange-related health conditions as their counterparts who served on land. Following the law’s passage, Rep. Harder held a workshop to help dozens of area veterans apply for their new health care benefits.