Hoeven Holds Veteran Roundtable, Outlines Recently-Passed Legislation to Expand Long-Term Care Options for Veterans
Legislation Also Improves Veteran Access to Local Medical Providers, Veteran Caregiver Benefits
BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today held a roundtable at the Baptist Health Care Center in Bismarck with veterans, Veteran Service Officers and representatives from the long-term care (LTC) industry, where he outlined how the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act expands veterans’ access to LTC options. This bipartisan legislation, which was recently passed by Congress, includes key provisions from Hoeven’s Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act to increase access to LTC options for veterans in their home communities and near their loved ones.
Currently, only about 20 percent of North Dakota nursing homes contract with the VA due to the agency’s difficult regulations and reporting requirements. The provisions Hoeven secured will allow the VA to enter into provider agreements with qualified health care and long-term care facilities, provide relief from expensive federal contracting requirements and enable more LTC providers to accept veteran patients.
“The burdensome contracting requirements at the VA have long limited veterans’ access to long-term care services,” said Hoeven. “That means as veterans reached their later years, they often had to move away from their home communities, their families and their support networks just to receive the care they need. Our legislation, which has passed Congress and is awaiting the president’s signature, provides regulatory relief to long-term care facilities, meaning veterans will have greater choice when selecting these services, allowing them to stay closer to their loved ones, which is so important for maintaining a high quality of life.”
“In the past, Baptist Health Care Center (Baptist Home) has not been a provider for veterans through the Veterans Administration due to the cost prohibitive and redundant requirements beyond what we were doing for Medicare and Medicaid,” said Shelly Peterson, President of the North Dakota Long Term Care Association. “We are grateful that Senator Hoven sponsored this legislation and moved it through Congress, as it will help veterans receive medical and long-term care services in or near their communities.”
IMPROVING COMMUNITY CARE, CAREGIVER BENEFITS
In addition to its LTC provisions, the VA MISSION Act streamlines the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) community care programs into a new Veteran Community Care Program, improving upon the Veterans Choice Program. Hoeven worked to ensure the legislation included the following priorities to provide veterans with more quality health care options, closer to home:
- Removes the arbitrary 30-day/40-mile rule, which acted as a barrier to veterans receiving care in their home communities and often required veterans to travel long distances to receive health care. Last Congress, Hoeven helped introduce and the Senate passed the Access to Community Care for Veterans Act, legislation to fix the 40-mile issue.
- Expands caregiver benefits for veterans of all eras. Under current law, these benefits are only available to caregivers of post-9/11 veterans. This provision will help support all veterans and the family and friends that care for them.
- Provides $5.2 billion for the Veterans Choice Fund
- Creates standards for timely payment to community care providers.
- Authorizes access to walk-in community clinics for enrolled veterans who have used VA health care services in the last two years.
- Strengthens the process for ensuring responsible prescribing of opioids to veterans for VA and partnering health care providers.
- Ensures providers removed or suspended from VA practice do not treat veterans in the community.
- Improves the recruitment of VA health care professionals.
- Requires the VA to schedule medical appointments in a timely manner.
This legislation follows Hoeven’s work to secure and implement the Veterans Care Coordination initiative at the Fargo VA Health Center in 2016. The initiative allows veterans seeking community care to coordinate all of their health care through the Fargo VA rather than Health Net. The initiative also placed a Health Net representative at the Fargo VA to improve provider reimbursements and reduce denial of veterans’ claims. Hoeven’s staff has worked directly with the Fargo VA and providers since the implementation of the Veterans Choice Program to resolve outstanding payments by Health Net.
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