U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Gets Funding for Health Care
August 6, 2015 09:05 AM
On July 30, Congress extended additional funding to the beleaguered U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cover the rising cost of health care for veterans. As funding was depleted, the VA indicated that hospitals would need to close and that certain home care services would be terminated by the end of July or shortly thereafter.
As a result of the new funding, VA officials confirmed to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) that the veterans currently receiving home care services should not face any interruption in that care. Initially, VA officials explained that VA home health care would transition to the new CHOICE program within the VA, requiring providers to register with CHOICE contractors. However, it was also expected that current home care patients (those not receiving home health services) would continue in their care, but that prospective new patients might face a waiting list for care. CHOICE was created by Congress to address the long waiting lists for physician and hospital care by allowing veterans to get care outside of VA facilities. As part of the CHOICE changes, the home health benefit is shifted to that program. Other home care programs remain in the VA. However, as July 31 approached, veterans began receiving notices that home health and other home care services would be discontinued.
NAHC in combination with several state home care associations, particularly the Nebraska Association of Home & Community Health, enlisted congressional support for veterans receiving home care as the funding deadline neared. With the House of Representatives scheduled to leave on recess on July 30, the Senate needed to pass the House-approved funding measure. Thankfully, a strong bipartisan contingent of Senators did so.
The VA home care programs offer significant opportunities for veterans to receive extended care at home. These benefits include a Medicare-like home health services program, a personal care support program, respite care, hospice care, and home telehealth services. (Read more here: http://www.va.gov/healthbenefits/access/home_health_care.asp). The loss of funding would have impacted thousands of veterans nationwide.