Washington, D.C. – Ahead of this week’s joint House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearings with veterans service organizations, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA) recently introduced the Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act of 2022 (H.R. 6823). This legislation would improve and expand home and community-based services for disabled and elderly veterans, ensuring they are able to remain in their homes and receive the care they need.
“Over half of all veterans that use VA are over the age of 65,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “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.
“The research is clear: providing health services and assistance in home settings improves health outcomes and delays, if not prevents, nursing home placement for people with disabilities and the elderly. However, VA’s current programs need to be improved and expanded to ensure that all veterans have access to these types of services.
“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,” Congresswoman Brownley added.
“Representatives Brownley and Bergman are passionate champions of America’s veterans, their families, and caregivers. This transformative bill,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole, “reinforces that our nation can only provide world-class care for our veterans if we also provide world-class, systemic support to their caregivers. I am humbled that this legislation bears my name, and I am hopeful the bill receives the support it deserves.”
“The Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act of 2022 is the result of Chairwoman Brownley’s tireless work for aging and disabled veterans and their caregivers, and I’m proud to support it,” said House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano. “Since first arriving in Congress, Chairwoman Brownley has made clear her priority to establish and expand access to home care services for veterans – ensuring all veterans who are at risk of nursing home care have the option of remaining home if they choose. VA has long been a leader in this space but this bill is the force needed to make sure it is the gold standard of long term care for veterans wherever they receive it. In honor of Senator Elizabeth Dole, herself a caregiver and leader in this work, this bill also ensures the family members who care for these veterans are provided respite and coordination services that better enable caregivers to safely keep their families together at home.”
“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, and I’m proud to join my counterpart on the House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee, Chairwoman Julia Brownley, to comprehensively expand access, options, and programs for these Veterans who would deserve care in the comfort of their home,“ said Rep. Jack Bergman, Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health.
“Veterans with significant disabilities, like spinal cord injuries and disorders, require specialized and long-term services and support throughout their lives,” said Charles Brown, Paralyzed Veterans of America National President. “This person-centered care would allow more veterans to remain independent in their homes, instead of being forced into long-term care facilities. PVA strongly supports the Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act, which would make urgently needed improvements to VA HCBS. We call on Congress to quickly pass this desperately needed legislation.”
“As life expectancy continues to increase, so must life quality, and for many veterans that means having home health care as a choice,” said Tammy Barlet, Veterans of Foreign Wars National Legislative Service Associate Director. “Ensuring veterans have options for long-term care has been a priority of the VFW, which is why we support the Elizabeth Dole Veterans Home and Community Based Services Improvement Act of 2022. This bill would create several programs that support veterans and their caregivers. Every veteran should be able to choose to receive care and assistance with daily activities while remaining to live at home.”
“As the number of veterans needing long-term care is expected to significantly increase over the next decade, it is important that VA implement policies now that help veterans age safely at home and remain active participants in their communities,” said DAV National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “DAV is pleased to support the Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act, which will improve the VA’s program of long-term services and support. We thank Representative Brownley for giving attention to this often-overlooked group of veterans.”
“As our country’s post-9/11 veterans are beginning to use the Department of Veterans Affairs non-institutional care programs at increasing rates as they age, the Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act comes at a critical time” said Jose Ramos, Vice President of Government and Community Relations at Wounded Warrior Project. “This legislation would be an important step towards creating more options for a younger generation of wounded warriors who would prefer to receive care at home rather than in a nursing home. The Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act would honor the service of these veterans as well as their caregivers, and Wounded Warrior Project is proud to offer its support.”
“This timely, critically needed bill will enable many more of our nation’s veterans to age in place with the care and services they need as well as support their family caregivers,” said Shawn Bloom, President and CEO of the National PACE Association. “This provision not only will ensure all care and services received by veterans currently enrolled in PACE will be well coordinated with their local VAMCs, but also facilitate substantial increases in the number of veterans and their caregivers benefitting from the innovative PACE model of care.”
Specifically, key features of this legislation include:
- Expanding access to home and community-based services for veterans living in US territories and to Native veterans enrolled in IHS or tribal health program
- Raising 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%.
- Coordinating expanded VA home care programs with other VA programs, like the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers, and other federal programs, like Medicare’s PACE program.
- Reviewing existing service gaps in geriatric and extended care at the VA.
- Establishing a pilot project to address home health aide shortages
- Providing respite care to caregivers of veterans enrolled in home care programs
- Establishing a “one stop shop” webpage to centralize information for families and veterans on programs available.
- Requiring 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 text of the bill can be found here.