December 09, 2015

Manchin Applauds Committee Passage of Bill to Improve Care for Veterans

Legislation will increase accountability at the VA and improve Veterans’ benefits and health care

Washington, D.C. – As a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today applauded the Committee’s markup and passage of the Veterans Homeless Programs, Caregiver Services, and Other Improvements Act of 2015, legislation to increase accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and improve Veterans’ benefits and health care. The bill unanimously passed the Committee by voice vote and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

The bill includes three provisions that were cosponsored by Senator Manchin. They aim to improve services for homeless Veterans, address overprescribing practices in the VA and provide safer and more effective pain management services to Veterans and allow more Veterans to have access to extended long-term care.

“Veterans and their families sacrifice so much in defense of our country, and they should expect to have the best services and opportunities available when they return home,” Senator Manchin said. “In order to make sure our Veterans receive the reliable care that they need and deserve, we need to continue to pass commonsense reforms that allow the VA to run more efficiently and better provide for our Veterans. That is why I am proud that these three measures that focus on improving the VA were included in this bill. In addition, while I am glad the bill strengths accountability standards at the VA, there is no doubt that more needs to be done in order to ensure the VA is doing its job of providing our Veterans with the finest care possible. I encourage all my colleagues to work together and put our brave veterans first and pass these important reforms.”

Below is a list of Senator Manchin’s provisions that were included in the bill:

Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Provision: This provision addresses opioid abuse by providing safer and more effective pain management services to our nation’s Veterans. It requires stronger opioid prescribing guidelines and education for VA providers, including stricter standards against prescribing dangerous combinations of opioids with other drugs and for prescribing opioids to patients struggling with mental health issues. It also increases coordination and communication throughout the VA with medical facilities, providers, patients and their families surrounding pain management, alternative treatments for chronic pain, and appropriate opioid therapy.

Homeless Veterans Prevention Provision: This provision that Senator Manchin originally introduced with Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) improves housing retention for homeless Veterans who transition to permanent housing and provides more legal services for homeless Veterans.

Veteran Access to Care Provision: This provision combines two bills Senator Manchin cosponsored with Senator John Hoeven (R-SD), the Veterans Access to Extended Care Act and the Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act. The provision allows Veterans greater access to long term care (LTC) services near loved ones and friends in their home communities. Extended care providers include such facilities as nursing centers, geriatric evaluation, domiciliary services, adult day health care, respite care, palliative care, hospice care and home health care.