Hoeven Leads Veterans Roundtable in Bottineau, Highlights Progress on Improving Veterans Access to Local Health Care

Senator Outlines Efforts to Provide Veterans with Better Care, Closer to Home

BOTTINEAU, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today led a roundtable in Bottineau to update area veterans on his efforts to improve veterans’ access to health care and extended care in their local communities. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (VA), Hoeven worked with his colleagues in Congress last month to secure funding to improve services at the VA and advance legislation to improve veterans’ access to non-VA health care and extended care facilities.

“Our veterans, as well as their families, have made tremendous sacrifices for our country,” Hoeven said. “It is of the utmost importance that we honor their selflessness by ensuring that they have access to the health care services that they have earned and deserve. Through enhanced funding for the VA, our long-term care legislation and our efforts to fix the 40-mile rule, we can provide our veterans with more health care options closer to loved ones and help them achieve a higher quality of life.”

  • Specifically, Hoeven helped advance the following priorities for veterans’ health care in December:Securing increased funding, $71.4 billion, for the VA in Fiscal Year 2016. This includes an additional $2.5 billion to improve patient access to care and to support additional health care services including hepatitis C treatments, veterans’ caregiver services, and homeless veterans’ assistance.
  • Requiring the VA to submit a comprehensive cost analysis of the Veterans Choice Program’s 40 mile rule criteria. The report must provide potential legislative and non-legislative solutions that offer veterans access to non-VA care when they live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility incapable of providing medical services a veteran requires. This follows the Senate’s passage of the Access to Community Care for Veterans Act in May, a bill Hoeven cosponsored. This legislation allows veterans to obtain health care services in their local community if a VA Medical Center or community-based outpatient clinic within 40 miles can’t provide the necessary care.
  • Passing provisions through the Senate VA Committee from two Hoeven-sponsored bills, the Veterans Access to Extended Care Act and the Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act, which will allow veterans greater access to long term care (LTC) services near loved ones and families in their home communities. Extended care providers include such facilities as nursing centers, geriatric evaluation, domiciliary services, adult day health care, respite care, palliative care, hospice care and home health care.

Hoeven’s LTC provisions will allow the VA to enter into provider agreements with long-term care facilities subject to the same rules and regulations as Medicare and Medicaid providers. This will enable veterans to stay in local nursing homes by allowing those facilities to receive Veterans Administration reimbursement on the same basis as Medicare and Medicaid providers.

Currently, duplicative reporting requirements and regulations administered by the Office of Federal Contracting Compliance Programs (OFCCP) have discouraged long-term-care facilities from admitting VA patients, thus depriving veterans of an opportunity to secure long term care at non-VA facilities. As a result, only 15 out of 80 nursing homes in North Dakota currently contract with the VA.

By contrast, the same LTC facilities contracting with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are not subject to OFCCP regulations. The Hoeven legislation would make the VA requirements for providers the same as they are for CMS, giving our former servicemen and women more options to access long-term-care services closer to their homes, families and friends.

Hoeven originally introduced the Veterans Access to Extended Care Act as a stand-alone bill in March with Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and the Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act in September, also with Manchin.