Hoeven to Sec. Wilkie: Provide One Set of VA Regulations for LTC Providers, Add North Dakota HBOT Facility to Clinical Demonstration Program

Senator Working with Wilkie on Expanding Veteran Access to Long-Term Care Services, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

WASHINGTON – At a hearing of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee this week, Senator John Hoeven continued his efforts with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to:

  • Ensure his long-term care (LTC) legislation is implemented properly, giving qualified LTC providers only one set of regulations to comply with, rather than the existing duplicative regulations. Currently, only about 20 percent of North Dakota’s nursing homes contract with the VA. Hoeven’s legislation would enable more LTC providers to contract with the VA and allow more veterans to receive these services in their home communities.
  • Include a North Dakota hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) facility in the VA’s clinical demonstration program, allowing veterans in the region to access an alternative treatment option for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). None of the VA’s current demonstration sites are in the upper Midwest. Wilkie has committed to Hoeven to visit the state, which the senator is leveraging to help improve access to HBOT for veterans in North Dakota and western Minnesota.

“We’re working with Secretary Wilkie to ensure our long-term care legislation is implemented in a way that provides one set of standards for LTC providers, whether they are seeking reimbursement from the VA or CMS, which will help reduce regulatory burdens and allow more facilities to accept veteran patients,” Hoeven said. “At the same time, we are trying to bolster the VA’s suicide prevention and mental health treatment programs. We’ve heard from veterans who believe that hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been helpful in treating their PTSD. While the VA has a demonstration program for HBOT, this service remains out of reach for many veterans in our region. That’s why one of my primary goals for the Secretary’s visit is to include a North Dakota HBOT facility in the VA’s demonstration program.”

LTC Provider Agreement Implementation

Key provisions of Hoeven’s legislation, the Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act, were signed into law last year as part of the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act. This law allows the VA to enter into Veterans Care Agreements (VCAs) with qualified LTC providers, including nursing homes. 

The VA is expected to roll out proposed regulations under the senator’s legislation later this year. Hoeven is working to ensure the new VCA’s remove the existing duplicative layers of review for LTC providers and match the standards under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Aligning with CMS rules would provide relief from expensive federal contracting requirements and enable more long-term care providers to accept veteran patients.

HBOT & Suicide Prevention

The VA has stated that its top clinical priority is suicide prevention. As part of his efforts to improve the VA’s mental health care programs, Hoeven is encouraging the VA to expand access to alternative treatment options, like HBOT, for veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI) who have yet to experience positive outcomes.