February 26, 2024

Ranking Member Takano Applauds President Biden’s Decision to Accelerate Access to VA Healthcare for Toxic-Exposed Veterans

Press Contact

Libby Carlson

WASHINGTON, DC – House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Mark Takano (CA-39) released the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) detailed its plans to accelerate healthcare enrollment for veterans made eligible by the PACT Act, as announced by President Joe Biden on Veterans Day last year. An initial open enrollment period created by Ranking Member Takano’s Honoring our PACT Act saw almost 26,000 new veterans enrolled in VA’s healthcare system. Now over 80,000 more will have the chance to enroll on a much faster timetable than what was initially laid out in the law. 

Ranking Member Takano said, “President Biden understands the significance of this law and the importance of taking care of our veterans. Upon signing the Honoring our PACT Act, President Biden declared that instead of phasing in the PACT Act’s new presumptive illness designations, coverage for those service-connected illnesses should begin immediately, opening up benefits to more than 500,000 veterans and their survivors. And more than five million veterans have already completed a toxic exposure screening under this law.  

It is important for veterans to understand that while they may not need VA healthcare now, they may later, as we learn more about the dangers of being exposed to toxins while serving our country. Any eligible veteran should take advantage of being able to enroll now and not wait years they thought they would have to, or until they are ill. It’s important to make sure they can access quality healthcare when they need it. So, I applaud President Biden and VA Secretary Denis McDonough for continuing to honor our pact with veterans and accelerating healthcare enrollment. 

We ask so much of our servicemembers and their families. And in return, we must be ready to pay for all of the costs of war. My Honoring our PACT Act is a part of this promise to our servicemembers and veterans.” 

This accelerated enrollment for VA healthcare will begin on March 5, 2024. More information can be found at VA.gov/PACT as it becomes available.