(Ripon News) U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) has introduced bipartisan legislation that would prohibit the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) from charging United States military veterans copayments for preventive services related to COVID-19.

“Our heroic veterans have sacrificed so much to serve and keep our country safe,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said on Jan. 28. “No veteran should have to pay out of pocket for COVID-19 preventive services when using VA benefits.”

The congressman signed on as an original cosponsor of the No Coronavirus Copays for Veterans Act, H.R. 617, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL), to ensure that veterans who receive healthcare from the Veterans Health Administration are not liable for out-of-pocket costs for qualifying coronavirus preventive services, like COVID-19 vaccines, according to Rep. Fitzpatrick’s office.

While the CARES Act included provisions to provide free coverage of COVID-19 vaccines without any form of cost-sharing, some veterans were excluded from those provisions, according to a one-page summary of the bill. 

“It is unacceptable that veterans who have served our country would bear financial burdens that most civilians do not have to worry about. It is also dangerous for all Americans if any members of our community face financial barriers to accessing a COVID-19 vaccine,” the summary states. “In order to finally defeat the coronavirus and rebuild our economy, we need to protect our entire population. The No Coronavirus Copays for Veterans Act ensures that our veterans receive the COVID-19 preventive services they need and deserve.” 

H.R. 617 is endorsed by American Veterans (AMVETS) and the Service Women’s Action Network. Reps. Fitzpatrick and Underwood in May 2020 originally introduced the same-named H.R. 6845, which stalled in the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.