DelBene’s Fix for National Guard Healthcare Clears House in Must-Pass Legislation
The House today passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2017, which included Congresswoman Suzan DelBene’s (WA-01) National Guard Family Protection Act (H.R. 4554) to ensure National Guard members retain health coverage when responding to state emergencies, such as landslides or earthquakes. The bill also included a DelBene measure easing the burden of relocation on our nation’s military families. The NDAA now heads to the Senate before reaching the President’s desk.
“We should not be forcing our National Guard members to choose between helping our communities and caring for their own families,” DelBene said. “The inclusion of my bill in the NDAA will ensure all our brave men and women are covered when they respond to state emergencies. I’m glad the legislation has earned such broad, bipartisan support, and I hope the Senate and President act quickly so this important reform becomes law.”
The National Guard often serves as the primary resource for states during times of disaster. Unfortunately, some Guard members serving on new Homeland Response Force (HRF) units are at risk of losing health coverage when responding to natural disasters or emergencies, based on the unique status they serve under. DelBene introduced the bill in February to guarantee these Guard members and their families retain health coverage during disaster response efforts, and she worked with Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, to attach her bill to the House NDAA during the Committee’s markup in April.
After the SR 530 landslide in Oso, DelBene was contacted by Guard members who were facing the loss of healthcare coverage if they decided to stay on the ground to help the community.
The final NDAA also includes an amendment DelBene attached to the bill in May, helping military spouses find employment when U.S. servicemembers receive Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders, which require them to uproot their families and relocate to support our national security.