Senator Warren Legislation Would Support Victims of Terrorism

Legislation Honors Work of Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, Survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing and Victim Advocates

Bill Text (PDF)VIDEO: Watch Patrick and Jessica share their story

Washington, D.C. – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) 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 since committed themselves 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.”

“Military hospitals are often uniquely qualified to care for victims of a terrorist attack,” said Senator Collins.  “Many physicians in the United States are not accustomed to treating the types of injuries that can be caused by these evil acts.  Our legislation would encourage information sharing between military and civilian doctors, as well as improve victims’ access to the world-class care provided by military hospitals when it does not interfere with the immediate needs of servicemembers and their families.”

“With this legislation, and Senator Warren’s leadership, we hope to ensure that all those injured by terrorism have access to the best medical care our country has to offer, while simultaneously ensuring the advancement of military medicine so that America fulfills its promise to current and future generations of service members returning from combat,” said Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes. “This act will mutually benefit civilians and service members who lives have been radically changed by hate and violence.

Ultimately, it serves the best interest of all Americans and we are honored to be a small part of its enactment.”

While Congress took initial steps last year to ease access to the Military Health System for civilians and veterans in certain cases, the process remains slow and bureaucratic. This bill would expedite care for traumatic injuries suffered by victims of terror, while also allowing military treatment facilities such as Walter Reed to maintain military medical readiness and provide training opportunities for the next generation of military healthcare providers. The bill also requires the Department of Defense, in consultation with the 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.  Treatment is still provided on a space available and fully reimbursable basis in accordance with DOD Instruction.

The legislation was originally introduced in late 2016 by Senator Warren. The text of the bill is available here.