New England PVA offers a comprehensive look at the priority issues that our organization will advocate for during the second session of the 116th Congress. These issues reflect areas of concern for our members as both veterans with spinal cord injury or disease and people with disabilities. We remain a steadfast advocate for all veterans and all people with disabilities.
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The New England Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Federal Policy Priorities
Provision of IVF
The New England Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America urges Congress to pass the Women’s Veterans and Families Act of 2019 (H.R. 955/S. 319). Congress must make in-vitro fertilization (IVF) a permanent part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ medical care package. In addition, Congress must allow for further services to address the needs of women veterans whose injuries prevent a full-term pregnancy, as well as the needs of veterans whose injuries destroyed their ability to provide genetic material for IVF. No group of veterans is more affected by the ban on IVF than PVA’s members, who are veterans with spinal cord injuries or disorders. PVA has long sought an end to the VA ban on providing IVF. Permanently providing reproductive services through VA would ensure that these veterans are able to have a full quality of life that would otherwise be denied to them as a result of their military service.
Improving Access to Adaptive Automobiles
The New England Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America supports the AUTO for Veterans Act (H.R. 5761/S 4155). This legislation would allow veterans to use the automobile grant once every ten years for the purchase, not lease, of an adapted vehicle. Veterans, therefore, would not have to shoulder the burden of the full cost of a vehicle.
Protect Access to VA’s Specialized Services
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs Spinal Cord Injury and Disorder (SCI/D) System of Care is comprised of 25 SCI Centers and six long-term care facilities, which provides a coordinated life-long continuum of services for SCI/D veterans. Despite the critical services SCI centers provide our members, nearly 49,000 VA staffing positions went unfilled last year. In September 2019, VA’s Office of the Inspector General (VAOIG) reported that 131 of 140 VA medical facilities had severe nursing shortages. Congress and VA must reform the Department’s hiring practices and pay structure to ensure the positions, pay, and other incentives offered are competitive with the private sector. Congress must also ensure that VA’s core services which include the SCI/D System of Care remain fully funded.
Air Carrier Access Act
The New England Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America urges Congress to pass the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act (H.R. 1549/S.669). This legislation will protect PVA members rights by: 1) Strengthening Air Carrier Access Act enforcement by requiring referral of certain passenger-filed complaints to the Department of Justice and establishment of a private right of action; 2) Ensuring new airplanes are designed to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities by requiring airlines to meet defined accessibility standards; 3) Requiring removal of access barriers on existing airplanes to the extent that it may be done without much difficulty or expense; 4) Improving the overall safety of air travel for passengers with disabilities.
Travel and Tourism for All Act
The New England Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America urges Congress to pass The Travel and Tourism for All Act (H.R. 5412), which directs the National Council on Disability to conduct a review of the implementation of the ADA in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries, and make a report to Congress of its findings. The New England Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America strongly supports legislation that promotes compliance with the ADA, the most comprehensive civil rights law affecting people with disabilities ever enacted.
Preserve and Strengthen Social Security
The New England Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America supports the Social Security 2100 Act (H.R. 860), which will preserve and strengthen Social Security by: 1) setting a more realistic cost-of-living adjustment reflecting expenses frequently incurred by retirees and people with disabilities; 2) cutting taxes on benefits for almost twelve million beneficiaries; 3) making long overdue adjustments in the financing mechanisms for the system by requiring those with wages above $400,000 to pay Social Security taxes and by asking workers to contribute over time the equivalent of an additional 50 cents per week each year; 4) ensuring that no one retires into poverty by setting the minimum benefit at 25 percent above the poverty line and indexing that benefit to growth in wages to ensure that the minimum benefit does not fall behind; and, 5) keeping the system solvent for the next 75 years.