Hoeven Addresses Knights of Columbus, Outlines Bills to Improve Extended Care, Health Care Services for Vets

Senator Working to Pass Bills to Enable Vets to Use Nursing Homes, Health Care Providers in Their Home Communities

MANDAN, N.D. – Speaking at a gathering of the Knights of Columbus, Senator John Hoeven this evening outlined legislation he is working to get passed that will help veterans in North Dakota and across the nation have better access to health care. The first bill provides veterans with more options for long-term care (LTC) services in their home communities, and the second gives veterans greater access to local services when  a Veterans Affairs Administration (VA) hospital or clinic is unable to provide care close to home.

“Men and women who have served our country devotedly should have access to the best care possible as near to home as possible,” Hoeven said. “That means not only providing them quality health care and extended services when they need them, but also providing those services in a way that works for them and their families. These bills are two of the most tangible and meaningful ways we can say thank you for their sacrifices on our behalf.”

Provider Agreements

Hoeven has introduced the Veterans Access to Extended Care Act, bipartisan legislation 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 and other extended care facilities 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.

Currently, the VA is authorized to enter into contracts with extended care providers enabling them to provide services to veterans, but onerous federal regulations, compliance and reporting requirements, as well as additional inspections have prevented many LTC facilities from admitting VA patients. As a result, only 15 out of 80 nursing homes currently contract with the VA in North Dakota.

By contrast, the same LTC facilities contracting with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have no such additional requirements. They need only comply with federal hiring practices. In February 2013, the VA issued a proposed rule that would have allowed the same VA reporting requirements for providers as they are for CMS, but the rule was never implemented because the VA determined it needs legislative authority. Hoeven’s Veterans Access to Extended Care Act provides the statuary authority they need.

Improving Veterans Access to Health Care

Hoeven is also cosponsoring the Veterans Access to Community Care Act, legislation he introduced with Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) that would allow veterans to obtain health care services in their local community if they live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility that can provide the care a veteran requires. Last year, Hoeven worked to pass the Veterans Access Choice and Accountability Act, which provides veterans with more flexible access to health care. If the VA cannot schedule an appointment for a veteran within 30 days, or the veteran resides more than 40 miles from any VA medical center (VAMC) or Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC), the veteran can choose to receive care from the doctor or provider of their choice.

However, that doesn’t help veterans within the 40-mile radius, who would still have to go to a VAMC if their local CBOC doesn’t offer a service unless they receive pre-approval, which is bureaucratic and inconvenient. The Veterans Access to Community Care Act would solve that by allowing veterans to seek care in their local community if they live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility that can provide the care a veteran requires.

Hoeven is continuing his work as a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs to ensure that veterans have access to convenient and quality health care and long-term care.