This bipartisan bill would expand community-based services for aging veterans and improve VA support for veterans and caregivers of all ages, and would:
- Increase the expenditure cap for noninstitutional care alternative programs from 65 percent to 100 percent of nursing home care costs;
- Expand access to home and community-based alternative care programs for veterans at all VA medical facilities, as well as to veterans living in U.S. territories and Native veterans enrolled in IHS or tribal health programs;
- Require VA to create a centralized website to disseminate information and resources related to home and community-based programs and help veterans and caregivers determine their eligibility;
- Require VA to review staffing and resource needs, accessibility, and other aspects of the Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care and Caregiver Support Program Office to make sure they are appropriately serving veterans and caregivers;
- Create a pilot program to provide home health aide services for veterans that reside in communities with a shortage of home health aides; and
- Require VA to establish a warm handoff process for veterans and caregivers discharged from or ineligible for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
Veterans with significant disabilities, like spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), require specialized and long-term services and support. Unfortunately, the number of veterans requiring this level of care greatly exceeds VA’s existing capacity to provide it.
Most significantly, disabled veterans would prefer to receive non-institutional care or home and community-based services (HCBS). VA HCBS must be more accessible to veterans with catastrophic disabilities. The Veteran Directed Care (VDC) program, which allows veterans to receive HCBS in a consumer-directed way, is currently available at only some VA medical centers. Furthermore, VA is limited on how much can be spent on each veteran’s home care. When VA reaches this cap, the only alternatives are to place the veteran in a facility or rely on the veteran’s caregivers, often family, to bear the extra burden. The Senate can no longer deny veterans these essential services.
The American Legion Resolution No. 18: Comprehensive Supports for Caregiver Support Program resolves that the Department of Veterans Affairs provide more robust and available comprehensive home and community-based support better to alleviate the physical and mental strains of caregiving. Please write your Senators today to demand they co-sponsor S. 141, the Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act!