Hoeven, Rounds Reintroduce Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act

VA Secretary Supports Goals of Legislation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) recently reintroduced the Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act, which expands veterans’ access to long-term care (LTC) services. The legislation will enable veterans to receive nursing home care in their home communities near their loved ones because more nursing homes will be able to treat veterans without having to comply with burdensome red tape. 

Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Secretary Dr. David Shulkin committed to work together on this effort. Additionally, as a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (VA) Appropriations Committee, Hoeven secured a provision in the Fiscal Year 2018 VA funding bill expressing congressional support for allowing non-VA LTC facilities to enter into provider agreements with the VA. Rounds is a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

“It’s important that our veterans have access to health care and long-term care services in their home communities, especially when the nearest VA facility is hundreds of miles away,” said Hoeven. “Unnecessary red tape is preventing many local nursing homes in North Dakota from serving veterans. This legislation streamlines the VA agreement process so that providers can offer services to veterans, helping them receive care in their local communities.”

“South Dakota veterans have made incredible sacrifices to keep us safe,” said Rounds. “Our legislation would remove red tape and regulatory hurdles to provide more options to our veterans when seeking care, particularly our rural vets who utilize the Choice Act in greater proportions. I thank Sen. Hoeven for continuing to lead this important effort to improve the quality of care for our vets.”

“The North Dakota Long Term Care Association and its provider members applaud Senator Hoeven for his leadership in re-introducing the Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act,” said Shelly Peterson, President of the North Dakota Long Term Care Association. "This important legislation ensures that the men and women who selflessly served our country will have access to extended care services from providers who are closer to their homes and community support structures. Senator Hoeven has been a true champion for our nation's veterans and we thank him for his steadfast support."

Specifically, the legislation allows the VA to enter into provider agreements with qualified health care and extended care facilities. The bill also enables more local health care providers to accept veteran patients and bypass burdensome and often times expensive federal contracting requirements. 

Currently, the VA can enter into federal contracts with non-VA providers in rural areas to provide services to veterans, but many LTC facilities have not admitted VA patients because of difficult regulations and reporting requirements. As a result, only 14 out of 80 North Dakota nursing homes contract with the VA.

In contrast, when contracting with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), LTC facilities are not subject to the same regulations. The legislation would make LTC requirements the same whether they contract with the VA or CMS. This gives veterans more options to access LTC services closer to their homes, families and loved ones.

In addition to the North Dakota Long Term Care Association, the American Health Care Association (AHCA), the nation’s largest association of long term and post-acute care providers, supports the legislation.