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    Health Care Enrollment Up 17% at VA Since Passage of Toxic Exposure Law

    Health Care Enrollment Up 17% at VA Since Passage of Toxic Exposure Law

    More than 144,000 U.S. veterans have enrolled in Department of Veterans Affairs health care since last August, an increase of 21,000 patients over the year before that may be related to landmark legislation that broadened health care and benefits for up to 1 million of the nation's veterans.

    VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Shereef Elnahal said Thursday that the department has had an uptick in applications for VA health care and is determining whether the patients are the result of the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics, or , Act. That law, signed last year, bolstered benefits to veterans sickened by exposure to battlefield pollutants, including open burn pits, Agent Orange and more.

    The PACT Act provided a special enrollment period for veterans who served from Sept. 11, 2001, to Oct. 1, 2013, and did not previously enroll in VA care. The period ends Oct. 1.

    Read Next: Soldiers Need to Check If Their Families Have Health Care After IT Snafu Kicked 25,000 Beneficiaries Off Tricare

    Elnahal said the VA is focusing as “diligently as it can” to reach these veterans and inform them of the benefit and the enrollment deadline.

    “We have that critical one-year period if they were previously expired from being able to apply and qualify and are now in the middle of this one-year period,” Elnahal said during a media roundtable with reporters Thursday.

    During the period from Aug. 1, 2021, to mid-January…

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