Bipartisan legislation to ensure that veterans are able to receive care in their home for as long as possible has been introduced in the House of Representatives. The Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act of 2022 (H.R. 6823) would expand and improve expand the home and community-based services (HCBS) programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and align public policy with improved outcomes and patient choice, which is to stay in their own home.
NAHC supports this bill, as it will make much needed improvements to the delivery of HCBS for veterans, enabling options in how and where they receive care, while also working to address workforce shortages and support family caregivers.
Specifically, this legislation would:
- Expand access to HCBS services for veterans living in US territories and to Native veterans enrolled in IHS or tribal health program.
- Raise the cap on how much the VA can pay for the cost of home care from 65% of the cost of nursing home care to 100%.
- Coordinate expanded VA home care programs with other VA programs.
- Establish a pilot project to address home health aide shortages.
- Providing respite care to caregivers of veterans enrolled in home care programs.
- Establish a “one stop shop” webpage to centralize information for families and veterans on programs available.
- Require the VA to provide a coordinated handoff for veterans and caregivers denied or discharged from the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers into any other home care program they may be eligible for.
The legislation is led by Representatives Julia Brownley (D-CA) and Jack Bergman (R-MI) and NAHC thanks them for their leadership on this important issue.
At introduction, Rep. Brownley stated, “Over half of all veterans that use VA are over the age of 65, age, combined with their unique health needs, makes many elderly veterans especially vulnerable to going into nursing homes and institutional care. Our nation’s veterans deserve the right to age comfortably and with dignity in their homes.
“I introduced the Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act to ensure that every veteran has access to the care they need, when and where they need it. The focus of my legislation is to keep veterans in their homes for as long as possible, if they want, bringing them the care they need to the place they feel most comfortable, and ensure that every VA medical center has these necessary support programs.
“By expanding home and community-based services, veterans will have the assistance needed to remain members of their communities, to be present in their family lives, to support their caregivers, and to age with dignity.”
Rep. Bergman added, “As the studies show and as many of the older Veterans throughout our Nation will attest, care in home settings is often preferable to care in a clinical facility. This is especially true for those disabled and elderly Veterans living in the rural and remote communities of Michigan’s First Congressional District. The Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act recognizes this reality.”
A hearing on the bill is scheduled for March 16. NAHC will update this issue.