Hoeven Addresses ND American Legion Annual Convention

Senator Discusses Efforts to Improve Veteran Access to LTC & HBOT, Advance Improvements for Rural Initiative Veterans Cemeteries like FNC

BISMARCK, N.D. – At the North Dakota American Legion’s Annual Department Convention today, Senator John Hoeven honored veterans’ dedicated service in defense of the nation and discussed efforts to ensure they receive the health care, benefits and recognition they have earned. To this end, Hoeven worked as a member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee to secure the following provisions in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 funding legislation benefiting the state’s veterans:

  • A provision to enhance veteran access to long-term care (LTC) providers.
  • Language encouraging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to continue researching the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) as a treatment for post-traumatic stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
    • The bill also encourages the VA to permit case-by-case referrals for HBOT through VA Community Care.
    • Language supporting the construction of additional facilities at Rural Initiative (RI) national cemeteries, including the Fargo National Cemetery (FNC).
      • This builds upon Hoeven’s recent work to support improvements for FNC, including efforts to expand the cemetery from 5 to 35 acres and advance infrastructure projects that benefit veterans, families and volunteers.
      • The senator recently raised these priorities with VA Secretary Denis McDonough, urging him to help move the efforts forward.

In addition, Hoeven discussed his efforts to enhance the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery (NDVC) in Mandan and secure a nearly $1.9 million grant for a new columbarium at the cemetery. This award was possible due to the passage of legislation Hoeven authored and successfully passed to ensure cemeteries like the NDVC remained eligible for VA grants.

“North Dakota has a rich tradition of military service, and we owe our veterans for their selfless service across the generations to preserve the security of our nation and protect the freedoms that we enjoy every day,” said Hoeven. “That’s why one of my primary goals in the Senate is to ensure the sacrifices of our veterans are properly honored. The legislation we advanced through the Senate Appropriations Committee this week does just that by improving veteran access to needed health care services, like long-term care. At the same time, the bill supports enhancements for our national veterans cemeteries in rural areas, as we’re working to do in Fargo, so our veterans can be laid to rest with honor.”

Improving Veteran LTC Access

            Specifically, the measure included in the FY24 appropriations bill directs the VA to work with the Department of Labor (DoL) to permanently exempt VA community care facilities, including LTC providers, from burdensome and duplicative contracting requirements. The mandates, which come under DoL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), are duplicative of existing Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) standards and result in significantly increased costs and paperwork burdens for providers and discouraging them from caring for veterans.

            Accordingly, Hoeven has been working to secure a permanent exemption for VA community providers and recently raised this priority with both Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough and DoL Acting Secretary Julie Su. The senator also secured an extension of the current moratorium on the mandates until a permanent solution can be put in place, similar to the OFCCP exemption that was established for TRICARE providers.