Oklahoma lawmakers weigh in on ‘PACT’ Act’s passage

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 6:06 PM CDT
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KSWO) - Local Oklahoma lawmakers have weighed in on the recent passage of the ‘PACT’ Act, which offers medical care to Veterans who may have been affected by burn pits during deployment.

Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe who voted to pass ‘PACT” made the following statement:

“I am proud to support this final piece of legislation paving the way for those who have sacrificed for this country to receive the care they deserve. This legislation, when enacted into law, will expand Veteran Affairs health care eligibility to Post-9/11 combat veterans and create a framework to ensure continued care for veterans suffering from illnesses related to toxic exposure. While I hoped to pass Sen. Toomey’s commonsense amendment to the original bill, I am glad were finally able to consider amendments on the Senate floor under regular order. I commend Sens. Moran and Tester for their leadership and am proud to stand alongside my colleagues on this important issue.”

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, who voted against the ‘PACT’, issued this statement:

“I stand fully behind keeping our promise to care for veterans who were injured or developed chronic illnesses due to their service to our nation. Thousands of veterans are already receiving care for their exposure to toxic burn pits and Agent Orange, but this bill would remove the science of presumptions and greatly lengthen the waiting period for all veteran care. Oklahoma veterans continue to share their frustration with the length of time it takes for the VA to get through its paperwork and care backlog to offer their quality services to our veterans. This bill will add more delays to service-connected veteran care by increasing care requirements for complications that may not be service-connected. The bill does not increase community care for veterans or increase beneficial information from community care. It simply expands eligibility without increasing capacity. All veterans should be evaluated by medical professionals to determine their ongoing treatment needs relating to their service. We must do better at serving those who have given their lives for our nation. We cannot worsen the VA backlog and make it even harder for Oklahoma veterans to get the care they need.”

According to information in Lankford’s release, the Veterans Administration currently allows veterans to file a disability claim if they have health problems related to burn pit exposure.

Those claims are decided on a case-by-case basis, instead of a blanket approval.

Lankford believes Veterans who have been directly affected by toxic exposure will ultimately be disadvantaged by the bill, due to an increase in claims and wait times to receive care.

Read the article below, if you would like to learn more about ‘PACT,’ and how other lawmakers across the nation are reacting.

READ: Veterans exposed to burn pits, other toxic chemicals will soon get extended health care

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