Members of Maine, Alaska Delegations Lead Call for VA to Swiftly Implement Their Law Supporting Veterans with Early-Stage Dementia
Washington, March 29, 2021
Tags: Veterans Issues
Members of the Maine and Alaska Delegations wrote to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough, urging him to quickly implement the State Veterans Homes Domiciliary Care Flexibility Act. The letter was signed by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Representatives Don Young (R-AK), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Jared Golden (D-ME), who co-authored this new law to address a current gap in care for veterans living with early-stage dementia.
Maine Veterans’ Homes (MVH) provided domiciliary care for veterans with early-stage dementia in its homes since 2004, but newly enforced Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) eligibility requirements limited access for many of these veterans.
“In December 2020, Congress unanimously passed, and the President signed into law, the provisions of the State Veterans Homes Domiciliary Care Flexibility Act,” the lawmakers wrote. “This legislation provides VA with the flexibility to waive certain eligibility requirements for domiciliary care for veterans with early-stage dementia when in the veteran’s best interest. This congressionally-granted flexibility…is intended to ensure that this vulnerable group does not fall through the cracks.”
“We urge you to implement immediately and delegate this waiver authority to regional Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN) and local VA hospital systems so that newly eligible veterans may begin to receive the care they so desperately need,” the lawmakers continued. “We respectfully request that you expedite this implementation, and we ask that you provide us with an update on VA’s efforts to do so.”
“MVH provided early dementia care to more than 150 veterans daily for nearly 20 years when these veterans were suddenly deemed ineligible for domiciliary care. While the VA grandfathered existing veterans, nearly 43 veterans have been denied eligibility since January. This legislation will correct a decades old administrative oversight that has negatively impacted Maine veterans and their families. MVH thanks Senators Collins and King and Representatives Golden and Pingree for their advocacy on behalf of Maine veterans, and all of our nation’s veterans, by advancing this important legislation through Congress and helping to quickly implement it,” said Kelley Kash, CEO, Maine Veterans’ Homes.
The State Veterans Homes Domiciliary Care Flexibility Act allows the VA to waive certain eligibility requirements to permit veterans with early-stage dementia to be cared for in state veterans’ homes when it is in the best interest of the veteran. Specifically, the law requires VA to implement a waiver authority, allowing the VA to grant domiciliary care per diem payments for veterans who meet at least half of the VA’s current eligibility requirements or if such a waiver would be in the veteran’s best interest. This will provide the flexibility to ensure this vulnerable group of veterans do not fall through the cracks and that VA can help address the growing needs for assistance for these patients.
Click HERE to read the letter.