Hoeven Meets with VA Secretary Robert McDonald on Senators' Bill to Give Vets Better Access to Long-Term-Care Services

Hoeven Offering Two Bills to Help Veterans Use Extended Care Providers, Health Care Services Close to Loved Ones

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) today said Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald is supportive of his efforts to give veterans better access to long-term-care (LTC) services near friends and loved ones in their home communities. The senator met with McDonald on Tuesday to discuss the Department’s budget for next year, and said the VA will work closely with him as his bill to ensure access for veterans to extended care moves forward.

The bipartisan Veterans Access to Extended Care Act, authored and introduced by Hoeven and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D), would help veterans get extended care in their own communities. Hoeven also pushed the secretary to support the Veterans Access to Community Care Act, legislation he is cosponsoring with Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) that would allow veterans to seek 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.

“I met with VA Secretary Bob McDonald and I know he joins me in my efforts to make sure nursing homes can get VA reimbursement without a lot of red tape,” Hoeven said. “This is very important to our veterans, so that they can get care close to home. I believe we can get that bill passed.”

The Veterans Access to Extended Care Act would enable veterans to stay in long-term-care facilities like nursing homes in their home communities near loved ones and friends because those nursing homes will be able to receive Veterans Health 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 the prospect of onerous federal reporting requirements have prevented many LTC facilities from admitting VA patients. As a result, only 15 out of 80 nursing homes in North Dakota and only 20 percent of nursing homes in West Virginia currently contract with the VA.

In contrast, the same LTC facilities contracting with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have no such reporting requirements. They need only comply with federal hiring practices. The Hoeven-Manchin bill gives the VA the statutory authority it needs to enter into Provider Agreements with extended care service providers, such as nursing centers, geriatric evaluation, domiciliary services, adult day health care, respite care, palliative care, hospice care and home health care. That gives our former servicemen and women more options to access LTC services closer to their homes, family and friends.

A companion to the Hoeven-Manchin’s Veterans Access to Extended Care bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

Last year, Hoeven worked to pass legislation that 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.

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 convenient, high quality health care and long-term care.