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Schatz: Appropriations Package Set To Extend COFA Agreements With Key Indo-Pacific Partners, Expand Medical Care For Veterans Living In Freely Associated States

Package Includes Provisions from Bipartisan Schatz-Led Bill to Enable Veterans to Get Direct Care in Palau, Marshall Islands, Micronesia

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that provisions from his bipartisan Care for COFA Veterans Act were included in the appropriations package released Sunday, along with language that would extend the United States’ agreements with the Freely Associated States (FAS) of the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The provisions from the Care for COFA Veterans Act would allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide medical care to veterans of the U.S. military living in the FAS. Congress is set to consider and vote on the package this week.

“Renewing COFA is a critical step, both for strengthening U.S. national security and promoting democracy and good governance in the Indo-Pacific,” said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Schatz added, “U.S. veterans living in the FAS deserve the same care as all other servicemembers, without having to navigate complex, costly barriers or travel long distances just to see a doctor.”

As a result of the provisions adopted from the Schatz-Murkowski Care for COFA Veterans Act, the VA would no longer be restricted from providing services to veterans residing in the FAS, including through direct care from VA providers, such as via telehealth, or through contracts with community providers; shipping medications to the FAS; and reimbursing veterans for travel from their home countries to the United States. Schatz has also for years urged the Biden administration and congressional leaders to prioritize renewing the COFA agreements.