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A landmark bill designed to improve women's health services in the Department of Veterans Affairs took a step closer to becoming law Wednesday with a Senate committee's advance of the Deborah Sampson Act.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee approved the proposal unanimously, sending it to the full Senate for consideration. The legislation was approved overwhelmingly in the House last October in a 399-11 vote.

The measure, S. 514, would require the VA to offer primary care for female veterans at all medical centers and clinics, expand eligibility and access to counseling for female vets who experience sexual trauma, improve standards for providing women’s health care services and provide access to counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder at retreats.

The proposal also would require the VA to offer gender-specific medical equipment such as mammography machines at each VA medical center, expand health care coverage for newborns of veterans from seven to 14 days, and establish a VA Office of Women's Health.

The measure was sponsored in the Senate by Jon Tester of Montana, the committee's ranking Democrat. He attributed the measure’s passage to efforts to educate lawmakers on the barriers that women and minority veterans face in obtaining health services and benefits at the VA.

“Women are the fastest growing population in the VA, and the VA needs to be fully prepared to meet those needs that women have,” Tester said following passage.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., the bill’s co-sponsor in the Senate, also praised its passage.

"This is the first important step in ensuring women veterans have access to care in a manner that is supportive to their needs. With more women answering the call to uniform … we must ensure that we provide the very best," Boozman said.

Full story: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/08/06/full-senate-take-deborah-sampson-landmark-bill-female-veterans-health.html