03.24.21

Peters-Backed Bipartisan Bill Signed into Law to Ensure All Veterans & Their Families Can Receive Free COVID-19 Vaccines Through VA

WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan legislation supported by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) to expand free COVID-19 vaccine access to veterans and their families was signed into law by President Biden. The SAVE LIVES Act, which Peters cosponsored earlier this month, will permit the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to allocate free vaccination services to all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers, and Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) recipients. This will enable them to get COVID-19 vaccines regardless of whether they are enrolled in VA health care or not. The bipartisan bill will also direct the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that the VA's vaccine allocation matches this potential increase in the eligibility criteria.

“Our veterans and their families have sacrificed so much in service to our country,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Armed Service Committee. “I am pleased President Biden has signed into law the SAVE LIVES Act, which will allow all veterans, their caregivers, and their loved ones to receive free COVID-19 vaccines through the VA. This legislation will make a difference as we work to expand access to vaccines and defeat this virus.”

The SAVE LIVES Act will expand the VA’s authority to provide vaccines to:

  • Veterans who are not eligible for enrollment in VA's health care system, including veterans without compensable service-connected disabilities and veterans who have incomes above a certain threshold;
  • Caregivers of veterans who are enrolled in various VA home-based and long-term care programs;
  • Veterans living abroad who rely on the Foreign Medical Program;
  • Spouses of veterans; and
  • CHAMPVA recipients (spouses or children of permanently and totally disabled veterans or of veterans who have died from service-connected disabilities).

Peters has advanced and supported efforts in the Senate to expand veterans’ services and support servicemembers. In January, Peters’ bipartisan bill to strengthen transparency and communication for veterans and caregivers participating in the VA’s caregiver program was enacted into law. Additionally, Peters’ bipartisan provision was signed into law to help veterans who may have erroneously given a less than honorable discharge from the military due to negative behavior resulting from mental traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Also, Peters’ bipartisan legislation to expand apprenticeship opportunities for veterans and allow them to use their GI bill benefits toward securing a registered apprenticeship was signed into law last year. Furthermore, Peters fought for and helped secure in the national defense bill that was enacted in January, a measure to expand the Department of Veterans’ Affairs list of medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure to include Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism.

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