Bipartisan bill expands healthcare to FAS veterans

U.S. Senators Brian Schatz of Hawai‘i and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska introduced the Compacts of Free Association Veterans Review Act. (Official Photos)

Guam – A bipartisan bill introduced by two U.S. senators proposes expanding medical care to veterans living in the Pacific Region.

U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the Compacts of Free Association Veterans Review Act.

The legislation would create a three-year pilot program to provide hospital care and medical services to veterans living in the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

All three countries are part of the Compact of Free Association with the United States.

“We made a promise to veterans when it comes to health care,” said Schatz. “This bill offers a responsible path forward to giving men and women who served the care they deserve, no matter where they live.”

“If someone puts on the uniform to serve our nation through service in the military, they should be awarded the same benefits of other service members, no matter where they live. The reality is those in the U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States face a need for access to healthcare, something of which Alaskans can relate,” said Murkowski“We’ve made progress in Alaska to ensure our veterans have access to care, closer to home, and my goal is that we do all we can to ensure all our veterans receive the care they need and deserve.”

According to Murkowski’s office, the pilot program would be part of a broader study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs on whether a permanent VA facility should be established in these countries.

Veterans living in Pacific Freely Associated States often travel long distances and pay for expenses out-of-pocket to receive care. With the use of telehealth and other health services, the pilot program would deliver direct care to these veterans, according to a release from Murkowski’s office