Efforts in Congress last year to add hypertension to a list of diseases linked to Agent Orange at the Department of Veterans Affairs failed, keeping Vietnam-era veterans from accessing care for high blood pressure connected to the toxic exposure.
Now, lawmakers are making another attempt to add hypertension and MGUS (Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance), to a list of presumptive conditions at VA, which will qualify those veterans for care and benefits. As many as 490,000 Vietnam-era veterans could benefit from the change, if the bill passes Congress and becomes law.
Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, D-Montana, introduced the Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act this week, along with support from 16 other senators. Tester said the bill would "put an end to decades of veterans wrestling with bureaucratic red tape" at VA, adding that there is sufficient scientific evidence to connect the illnesses to the toxic herbicide.
Earlier this month, Tester and Moran urged VA leaders to expand care and benefits to as many as 160,000 affected by Agent Orange-linked hypertension.