Every year, Resolve : The National Infertility Association develops a legislative agenda to bring to the Hill. This year, Resolve’s Advocacy Day was on May 11th. I went to DC with 2 of our marketing extraordinaires, Amy Kelly & Kim O’Brien for this event. We were with almost 200 other patients, veterans, physicians, nurses, social workers and business owners meeting with many of our nation’s senators and members of congress. We had representatives from almost every state – some as far away as Washington and California! The stories and support among the advocates was rewarding to be a part of.

There are many pieces of legislation that are designed to increase access to services that are needed and deserved by our veterans, increase the financial ability to adopt and educate our communities on the topic of infertility.

Being a part of this day to really do something to make a change was both a privilege and an honor. When we attend next year, we plan to get even bigger and better! Together, I believe that we really CAN make a difference! Resolve did such a fantastic job of organizing this event and we look forward to advocating even more in the future!

This year, there were several items we focused on advocating for. As the legislation evolves, we will be sure to keep you updated! For more information, visit http://www.resolve.org

• Introduced on May 13, 2015 by Chairman Jeff Miller, HR4892 will lift the ban on offering in vitro fertilization (IVF) by the Veterans Administration to certain disabled veterans with a service-related injury that has caused infertility. The bill extends the treatment to spouses if needed. IVF coverage is already being offered to active duty wounded service members therefore this bill fixes the inequity in care when those service-members move to the VA health system.

• On February 11, 2015, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015, S 469. The bill will allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide reproductive services, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), to service members, veterans, and their families who have suffered catastrophic wounds of war that prevent them from starting families. The Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015 would expand the current fertility services offered to service members and their families by DoD, and end the ban on in vitro fertilization services at the VA.

Though DoD can provide IVF treatment, too many service members are excluded from eligibility for this and other treatments. The VA is completely barred from providing IVF services because of an outdated regulation. Senator Murray’s bill would expand VA and DoD’s current fertility treatment and counseling offerings, and empower severely injured servicemembers and veterans to start families when the time is right for them. The bill would lift VA’s IVF ban and expand Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatments beyond DoD’s current policy limitations. Senator Murray’s bill would also provide access to fertility treatment for spouses, allow VA to offer adoption assistance, and make permanent the highly successful child care pilot program in VA.

Through the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act, veterans have a chance at the family they always dreamed of. For many wounded veterans, assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF may be their only hope of ever having a biological child with their spouse/partner.

• A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for a refundable adoption tax credit was introduced into the U.S. Senate by Senators Robert Casey (PA)and Roy Blunt (MO) on April 15, 2015. S 950 would extend tax benefits to more Americans, encourage adoption and increase American families’ abilities to offer homes to adoptive children. 

On May 19, 2015, Diane Black (R-TN-06), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, joined with Congressmen Danny K. Davis (D-IL-7), Jim McDermott (D-WA-7) and Trent Franks (R-AZ-8) to introduce the bipartisan Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2015 H.R. 2434. This bill is a companion bill to S 950. 

Although the adoption tax credit was made permanent in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” law), this new legislation will restore the refundable portion of the credit which was in place in 2010 and 2011. This legislation is critical to creating financial flexibility for families seeking to adopt.

• Veterans amendment to the Senate Appropriations MIL-CON Bill
This amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MIL-CON) appropriations bill for the Fiscal Year 2017 would provide funding for the VA to offer IVF for Veterans for two years.

• Furthering the CDC National Action Plan for Infertility
The CDC issued the “National Public Action Plan for the Detection, Prevention, and Management of Infertility”, in June 2014. This plan declared that infertility is a public health issue. 
We advocated for partners to work on ways to advance the goals of this plan.

Samantha Smith RN BSN