Hoeven: FY18 Veterans Affairs Funding Bill Supports Hoeven Initiative to Provide Veterans with Long-Term Care Closer to Home

FY18 VA Appropriations Bill Provides Strong Funding to Care for Nation’s Veterans

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (VA) Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Fiscal Year 2018 Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill provides record-level funding to care for the nation’s veterans. The legislation also includes a provision to advance the senator’s work to expand veterans’ access to long-term care services. 

The FY18 funding bill provides $78.4 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, an increase of $4 billion above the FY17 level. That includes $70.1 billion to support medical treatment and health care service for the nation’s veterans.  

“Our nation has a duty to care for our veterans and this legislation provides strong funding to help fulfill that responsibility,” said Hoeven. “While providing record-level funding for veterans health care and benefits, it also advances our work to provide veterans with long-term care options closer to their homes.”

The legislation includes Hoeven initiatives, including:

  • Access to Long-Term Care Services: Hoeven worked to include language in the legislation to advance his work to provide long-term care services to veterans close to home. The legislation includes language expressing Congressional support for the VA to enter into provider agreements with non-VA long-term care providers, including skilled nursing facilities, in lieu of the current onerous Federal contracting requirements. Hoeven has also secured a commitment from VA Secretary David Shulkin to work with the senator on the initiative. 
  • Improving Health Care for Women Veterans: The legislation includes Hoeven-language encouraging the VA to consider a mobile health care pilot program to provide gender-specific services, awareness of benefits and outreach to women veterans utilizing mobile health care infrastructure. This innovative model is designed to fill the current gap in gender-specific services as the VA works to expand infrastructure and hire the needed staff for specialty care. The legislation provides $20 million for the initiative.
  • Increasing Access for Veterans in Rural Areas: The Office of Rural Health’s goal is to improve the health and well-being of veterans residing in rural areas by increasing access to care and services. With over 40 percent of veterans residing in rural areas across North Dakota, this funding – $270 million for the Office for Rural Health – is critical to ensure that North Dakota veterans have access to health care.
  • Assisting Veterans Struggling with Mental Illness: Hoeven encouraged the committee to prioritize funding for treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), suicide prevention and increasing the availability of mental health resources in states with geographical barriers.

The bill was unanimously approved by the full Appropriations Committee and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.