Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, are leading a group of senators in urging the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to implement a year-old health care law that will greatly benefit over a thousand veterans.
In 2006, Congress enacted legislation requiring the VA to reimburse veterans and/or state veterans' homes for care provided to certain veterans with service-connected disabilities. Over one year later, the VA has not issued the required regulations. The senators call on the VA to issue the regulations within 30 days and assure that homes and veterans that have been paying for covered care are reimbursed. Other senators joining Feingold and Akaka in urging the VA to take swift action include Hilary Clinton (D-NY), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Carl Levin (D-MI), Patty Murray (D-WA), John Rockefeller (D-WV), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jim Webb (D-VA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), James Inhofe (R-OK), and John Sununu (R-NH).
"It is unacceptable that the VA has not issued regulations that will benefit over a thousand veterans receiving long-term care across the country," Feingold said. "I am committed to ensuring that veterans with serious disabilities do not have to draw from their limited income to pay for care that they have already more than earned through their service to our nation. They would not be required to pay for this care if they were in a VA-run facility and should not have to pay if they reside in a state facility simply due to bureaucratic delays at the VA. Congress' commitment to providing the best possible care to our veterans is more important than ever as an increasing number of troops return from Iraq, Afghanistan, and across the globe."
"We are failing in our commitment to these disabled veterans, leaving them to pay for their health care out-of-pocket," Akaka said. "It is disturbing that these veterans, many of whom have limited means, have been left in financial limbo due to delays by VA. When the provision I authored to increase the reimbursement rate passed Congress in 2006, I hoped VA would implement these sensible regulations quickly. I regret it has taken so long. VA must not let another month pass by without correcting this burden and treating these disabled veterans with the dignity they deserve. They sacrificed for our country; they should not continue to sacrifice for their care."
The United States has over one hundred state veterans' homes that provide quality low-cost care for veterans. Section 211 of the Veterans Benefits Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006, enacted in December 2006, ensures the long term health care that a veteran receives at a veteran home is covered, like it is at VA-run facilities. This coverage will benefit about 1,200 veterans and the state veteran homes caring for them, including some veterans who are currently paying out-of-pocket for benefits that should otherwise by covered by the VA.
A copy of the letter can be viewed here: http://feingold.senate.gov/pdf/ltr_va_022808.pdf
February 29, 2008