Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Congress to VA: Tell us your plan for adding diseases to Agent Orange presumptives list

The massive federal funding bill introduced Monday would require Veterans Affairs leaders to reveal whether they plan to add new diseases to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list.
The legislation includes a provision requiring VA to report to Congress within 30 days the reasons for a two-year delay in announcing any decisions, a cost estimate for adding new diseases and the date VA plans implement a decision.
Although the bill doesn’t name the conditions under consideration, the list includes bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s-like tremors and hypertension. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in 2016 said there is suggestive evidence that the first three diseases are linked to herbicide exposure. Meanwhile, in November 2018, the Academies said sufficient evidence exists to connect hypertension and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, or MGUS, a blood disorder that can cause some cancers, to defoliants.
Following release of the National Academies report in 2016, former VA Secretary David Shulkin said he had made a decision on three diseases and an announcement on the outcome would be forthcoming, but it never came.
In March, Dr. Richard Stone, executive in charge at the Veterans Health Administration, told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee that a decision on new presumptive conditions would come “within 90 days,” but that never happened either.

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