Hoeven: Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act Introduced in House of Representatives

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) today issued the following statement after hisVeterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine). The legislation, which Hoeven introduced in the Senate with Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) earlier this year, expands veterans’ access to long-term care (LTC) in their home communities and near loved ones by removing burdensome red tape that prevents nursing homes and other health care providers from accepting veteran patients.

“Our veterans have earned convenient and quality health care services,” Hoeven said. “Veterans should not have to move away from family and loved ones just to access the services they need. Our legislation aligns regulations at the VA with Medicare and Medicaid, reducing the burden on our long-term care providers and ensuring veterans have more options for health care. I appreciate Congressman Poliquin for partnering with me on this important effort, and I look forward to advancing this much-needed regulatory relief for the benefit of our veterans.”

Specifically, the legislation allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enter into provider agreements with qualified health care and extended care facilities, bypassing complex and often times expensive federal contracting requirements. Currently, the VA can enter into federal contracts with non-VA providers in rural areas to serve veterans, but many LTC facilities have not admitted VA patients because of onerous 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 will give veterans more options to access LTC services closer to their homes, families and loved ones.

Earlier this year, VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin committed to work with Hoeven 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.           

The legislation is supported by the North Dakota Long Term Care Association as well as the American Health Care Association (AHCA), the nation’s largest association of long-term and post-acute care providers.