President Joe Biden signed the PACT Act Wednesday morning, marking what the White House calls the “most significant expansion of VA health care in 30 years.”
The bill had extensive bipartisan support in the Senate with all 50 Democrats joining 34 Republicans in support. The legislation, however, was not widely supported among House Republicans as 174 of 211 voted in opposition.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government is expected to spend $101 billion in direct health care costs due to the bill.
The bill notably provides additional care for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Advocates for the bill say it expands access to Veterans Affairs health care services for veterans exposed during their military service.
The law will also ease the burden of proof for veterans proving toxic burn pits made them ill. Advocates say the bill will make it easier for veterans to access care and compensation. It also allows families of veterans who died from conditions tied to toxic burn pits to be eligible for compensation.
The Congressional Budget Office cannot estimate how many veterans will be affected by the law. Officials are also unable to estimate the number of veterans who would receive additional health care or the prevalence of disabilities presumed to be connected to military service.