The VA Won't Pay for a Baby - But They Should


It should be one of the basic tenants of caring for our veterans: if it breaks in service to our country, the nation should pay to fix it -- or do whatever is closest. You break it, you buy it.

But the government doesn't always agree.

When it comes to having kids, military vets with reproductive injuries have long been left out in the cold.  IVF is simply not covered by the VA. And while one lawmaker has repeatedly offered legislation to change that, it never gets the traction it needs to become law.

Why? The price tag.

In vitro fertilization, commonly known as IVF, is a process in which a woman's eggs are removed from her body, fertilized and implanted. A 1980s-era law bars the VA from paying for the procedure. Conservative lawmakers at the time were concerned that embryos produced through IVF would be trashed.

But today the opposition stems from the cost. IVF can run upwards of $15,000 per round -- and sometimes requires multiple attempts. If the VA covered it, that would be a lot of additional healthcare money coming out of a system already strapped for cash. And while it is, without question, the best hope of a biological child for service members with genital or spine injuries, few with power to change the system seem to care.

Instead, couples are left to pay for it themselves.

This issue comes up in the mainstream press every now and then. The Washington Post ran a story last May. PBS News Hour ran a story early this week that you can watch below. We've even posted a first person post from an impacted wounded warrior spouse.

Some detractors against allowing the VA to offer IVF say that having a biological child is not a right, and that adoption is always an option for wounded warriors who want children but cannot have their own. Others point out that Tricare does not currently cover IVF either (although expanding the law to allow for that coverage is reported to be a part of an upcoming Force of the Future proposal).

Still, the problem could seem as cut and dry as the no-questions asked decision by the VA to cover prosthetics for amputees -- another high cost process, also necessitated by a war injury. If a doctor can show that a veteran cannot have children because of his war injury, why shouldn't VA-supplied medicine foot the bill to fix it?

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