WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont) – members on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) – today introduced the Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act to expand community-based services for aging and homebound veterans.
Also referred to as the Elizabeth Dole Act, this legislation exemplifies Sen. Dole’s passion for finding enduring solutions for veterans in need of long-term care and their attentive family caregivers.
“Senator Elizabeth Dole represents the millions of caregivers who have worked behind the scenes to care for our nation’s veterans who are impacted by advanced age or catastrophic injuries,” said Sen. Moran, ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Caregivers help these homebound veterans maintain their independence and stay in their own homes in their own communities for as long as possible. The Elizabeth Dole Act is a concrete step in the right direction and delays the need to send these veterans to long-term institutional care by expanding access to home and community-based programs and increasing coordination efforts. It is fitting we name this legislation after an honorary Kansan – Elizabeth Dole – who has worked as an advocate to honor and recognize our veterans and their caregivers.”
“Veterans who have served bravely in defense of our freedoms must have access to the health care that they need, and for many, that includes the work of caregivers,” said Sen. Hassan, a member of SVAC. “We must recognize the incredible work of caregivers who allow veterans to maintain their independence and self-determination – the very values that they fought for in uniform. The Elizabeth Dole Act recognizes the critical work of caregivers and helps expand home and community-based services for our nation’s veterans. I urge my colleagues to pass our bipartisan bill and honor the promise we made for veterans to be there for them.”
“In rural Montana where health care options can be few and far between, family caregivers continue to face challenges accessing high-quality care for their loved ones,” said Sen. Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Our bipartisan bill will expand home and community-based health services for our most vulnerable veterans—providing veterans and their caregivers the support they need right at home.”
“Fittingly, this bill is a true reflection of Senator Elizabeth Dole’s legacy,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “It helps uphold the promise our nation makes to the military families bearing the wounds and illnesses of war. It is precisely focused on providing solutions that will directly address the most common and persistent hardships of our veterans, their families, and their caregivers. We applaud Senators Moran, Hassan, and Tester for bringing this transformational legislation to the Senate floor.”
“Over half of all veterans that use VA are over the age of 65,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley. “Age, combined with their unique health needs, makes many elderly veterans especially vulnerable to going into nursing homes and institutional care. Our nation’s veterans deserve the right to age comfortably and with dignity in their homes. The research is clear: providing health services and assistance in home settings improves health outcomes and delays, if not prevents, nursing home placement for people with disabilities and the elderly. However, VA’s current programs need to be improved and expanded to ensure that all veterans have access to these types of services. I introduced the Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act to ensure that every veteran has access to the care they need, when and where they need it. The focus of my legislation is to keep veterans in their homes for as long as possible, if they want, bringing them the care they need to the place they feel most comfortable, and ensure that every VA medical center has these necessary support programs. By expanding home and community-based services, veterans will have the assistance needed to remain members of their communities, to be present in their family lives, to support their caregivers, and to age with dignity.”
U.S. Representatives Jack Bergman (MI-01) and Julia Brownley (CA-26) introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
The Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act:
- Increases the expenditure cap for noninstitutional care alternative programs to nursing home care from 65 percent to 100 percent;
- Establishes partnerships to conduct alternative care programs within the community and require VA coordination with other VA programs;
- Expands access to home and community-based alternative care programs to veterans living in U.S. territories and native veterans enrolled in IHS or tribal health program;
- Requires the creation of a centralized website to disseminate information and resources related to home and community-based programs;
- Creates a pilot program for home health aide services for veterans that reside in communities with a shortage of home health aides; and
- Requires VA to establish a warm handoff process for veterans and caregivers ineligible for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
# # #