House Appropriations Committee Approves Amendment that Could Undermine IVF Treatment for Veterans and Service Members
On July 13, 2016, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), introduced an amendment during the markup for the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. The amendment would only allow federal funds to provide IVF so long as all embryos made in the process were stored indefinitely. Such a requirement makes the provision of IVF at the Department of Defense (DOD), and potentially in the future at VA, wholly untenable.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the organization that represents over 8,000 American fertility specialists says the Harris amendment directly contradicts the best clinical practices and would deny access to care. Unfortunately, Rep. Harris used his position as a doctor (an anesthesiologist) to validate his position and many of the members of the Committee accepted his views as expert. The amendment was ultimately agreed to 29-21, with one Democrat voting for it and one Republican voting against it.
PVA will work to prevent the amendments inclusion in the senate companion or in a possible omnibus appropriations bill. This amendment, while seemingly benign, is an intentional barrier to care and would undermine the existing IVF services at DOD and prevent any future services through VA.