March 16, 2015

Manchin, Hoeven Introduce Veterans Access to Extended Care Act

Senators’ Bill Empowers Veterans to Use Local Long-Term Care Providers Close to Their Homes, Families

Washington, D.C. – U.S Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) today introduced the Veterans Access to Extended Care Act, bipartisan legislation they authored to allow veterans greater access to long-term care (LTC) services in their home communities. Specifically, the legislation will enable veterans to stay in nursing homes in their home communities near loved ones and friends because those nursing homes will be able to receive Veterans Administration reimbursement without burdensome red tape.

“Our veterans and their families have already sacrificed so much for this country,” Senator Manchin said. “They should not have to worry about being denied care solely because of burdensome federal VA contracting requirements. Today, I am pleased to introduce legislation with my friend Senator John Hoeven that gets rid of this red tape in order to make sure our veterans can access the services they need. This small, commonsense change will impact a large number of our veterans and their families who deserve quality, long-term care.”

“Family, friends and community serve as a vital support network throughout our lives, and our veterans should not be forced to choose between being near their loved ones and accessing the care they need,” said Hoeven. “Our legislation will make more options available to our former service members who need long-term care services. That means better access to the benefits they have earned and a higher quality of life in their later years.” 

Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is authorized to enter into contracts with extended care providers enabling them to provide services to veterans, but onerous federal reporting requirements have prevented many LTC facilities from admitting VA patients. As a result, less than 20 percent of nursing homes in West Virginia currently contract with the VA in West Virginia and only 15 out of 80 nursing homes currently contract with the VA in North Dakota.

In contrast, the same LTC facilities contracting with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have no such reporting requirements. They need only comply with federal hiring practices. In February, 2013, the VA issued a proposed rule, RIN 2900-A015, which would make the VA reporting requirements for providers the same as they are for CMS. The Hoeven-Manchin bill gives the VA the statutory authority it needs to make this change permanent and enter into Provider Agreements with extended care service providers, such as nursing centers, geriatric evaluation, domiciliary services, adult day health care, respite care, palliative care, hospice care and home health care. That gives our former servicemen and women more options to access LTC services closer to their home, family and friends.

A companion to the Senators’ bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

Click here to download video of Senators Manchin and Hoeven. Click here to download audio.