December 07, 2016

Senator Warren Introduces Legislation to Provide Military Health Care Treatment to Victims of Terrorism

Bill Text (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren today introduced the Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes Act to provide victims of terrorism with access and treatment at appropriate military health care facilities. The name of the bill recognizes Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, survivors of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing who received a designation from the Secretary of Defense to receive the specialized care they needed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and who have committed their time to ensuring that other victims of terrorism have access to appropriate care.

"When I visited Jessica and Patrick at Walter Reed, I saw firsthand the state of the art facilities and met with some of their world-class physicians.  Jess and Patrick credited this highly specialized team for helping them recover more fully than would have been possible otherwise," Senator Warren said. "But many people who suffer blast injuries are unable to find this kind of expert care. Our country needs a system that will allow military doctors to share their expertise with civilian doctors and that will provide victims of terrorism with streamlined access to our military healthcare facilities."

"Access to the Military Health System at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has been life changing," said Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes. "The injuries that we and many others suffered as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing are most commonly seen by military physicians, and so they are best equipped to help us return to healthy, active, and purposeful lives. We are incredibly grateful to Senator Warren for all the ways she has supported us in our recovery, and for her leadership in ensuring that all those who come after us receive the best care our country has to offer.  We in compassionate and loving societies have an obligation to care for those injured by terrorism, and this Act will make a profound statement about how Americans will utilize our best resources to look after those in need, and demonstrate our steadfast resolve to unite in the face of forces attempting to pull us apart."

Currently, the Military Health System is only accessible to civilians who are granted Secretarial Designee (SECDES) status by the Secretary of Defense. Under the legislation, the Department of Defense (DOD) will also evaluate patients in critical care to determine if an individual's injuries are severe enough to warrant expedited SECDES status, in order to provide treatment at an appropriate military healthcare facility.  Individuals receiving SECDES Status will remain in such status on a space available and fully reimbursable basis in accordance with the current Department of Defense Instruction.  

The bill also requires the DOD, in consultation with Department of Homeland Security and other appropriate agencies, to establish procedures to promptly contact, coordinate, and provide medical expertise to local medical facilities treating traumatic injuries caused by an act of terrorism.  Expanding this program will not only benefit victims of terror but also provide military treatment facilities such as Walter Reed with the ability to provide ongoing education and training opportunities to mentor the next generation of military healthcare providers.

The text of the bill is available here.