NEWS FROM U.S. SENATOR DANIEL K. AKAKA
August 4, 2006
VETERANS BILL PASSES SENATE WITH AKAKA PROVISIONS
Washington, D.C. - Committee on Veterans' Affairs Ranking Member Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) this morning applauded the passage of S. 2694, an omnibus veterans bill.
?This timely piece of legislation includes a number of important provisions that will improve the health care and benefits that our nation's veterans deserve,? stated Senator Akaka. ?It is particularly important that we remain vigilant in our support of those who serve in the Armed Forces, especially now in a time when so many brave men and women are in harm's way.?
The bill, which passed last night, includes several Akaka provisions that would:
· Extend the state cemetery grant program eligibility to tribal organizations to provide Native American veterans burial options closer to family;
· Increase the amount of supplement life insurance coverage available to disabled veterans from $20,000 to $30,000;
· Establish Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence in law;
· Require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay full costs for certain service-connected veterans residing in state veterans homes;
· Allows states to set up small state veterans' homes to meet long-term care needs in less populated areas;
· Authorize a pilot program to provide care-giver assistance and non-institutional care services.
?This legislation specifically seeks to improve the way VA responds to the present and future demand for long-term care. Two of my provisions are aimed at averting the looming long-term care crisis,? added Senator Akaka, ?especially in rural areas like Hawaii where innovative approaches are truly necessary to meet demand.
?The adjustments this legislation would make to the current cost-sharing arrangement between VA and the states, which are derived from S. 2762, legislation I introduced, will help ensure a high quality of care in State homes not only in Hawaii, but across the entire nation.?