Office of Rep. Derek Kilmer announcement.
Today, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) introduced the Planning for Aging Veterans Act – which aims to pave the way for future investments in long-term care, improve the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) relationship with State veterans’ homes, and expand the care veterans residing in state-run veterans’ homes receive.
“If you served our country, the federal government should have your back,” said Rep. Kilmer. “That’s why I’m working to ensure that our brave veterans have the long-term care that they need to live a life with dignity. The Planning for Aging Veterans Act is an important bill to ensure the VA steps up to help ensure all veterans in our region, and in every corner of our country, have the support and care that they have earned and deserve.”
“The selfless men and women who served in our military have given so much both at home and overseas. As they retire from the service and get older, it’s critical that we step up as Americans to make sure they have access to every resource to meet their changing health care needs,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. “I’m proud to lead the Planning for Aging Veterans Act with Congressman Kilmer to make sure veterans in Washington and across the country have options for long-term care, including in-home and community-based services, which are so important for senior veterans to age comfortably and peacefully. This bill is a small step towards providing the heroes of our country with the retirement care they’ve earned in service to our nation.”
The Planning for Aging Veterans Act of 2021 would:
- Require the VA to develop a strategy addressing the current and future long-term care needs of veterans to identify areas for future investment.
- Standardize the process across the VA for medical centers entering into sharing agreements with State homes.
- Clarify the VA policy to ensure catastrophically disabled veterans residing in a State home receive their medications without a copayment, as they would if they resided elsewhere.
- Require that any deficiencies during State veterans’ home inspections are reported to the VA and inspection reports are published on the VA website.
- Create a pilot program which will provide geriatric psychiatry assistance to eligible veterans at State veterans’ homes.
- Instruct the VA to work with public housing authorities and local organizations to assist aging homeless veterans in accessing existing housing and supportive services.
U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is leading companion legislation in the United State Senate – which advanced out of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in July 2021.
Nearly 50 percent of the 9 million veterans currently enrolled in the VA’s health care system are at least 65 years of age. From 2018 to 2028, the number of enrolled veterans aged 75 and older is projected to grow by 46 percent, and during the same time frame, the number of enrolled veterans under age 75 is projected to drop by 14 percent. A recent GAO report outlined the current state of state-run veterans’ homes and called for greater oversight of quality of these homes by the VA.
Veterans’ advocates have indicated that veterans would also benefit from home- and community-based services to support the desire to age in place. Earlier this year, the House passed the Build Back Better Act, which included investments to update the VA’s aging infrastructure, its workforce, and the support structures that serve veterans. This funding would help make home- and community-based services (HCBS) available to more eligible Americans – ensuring better care for those who want to age in place and better pay and benefits for care workers – with the goal of improving quality of life for Washington families.
Rep. Kilmer has long advocated for expanded access to HCBS, and helped pass the American Rescue Plan earlier this year, which included $12.7 billion in funding for HCBS to help ensure people with disabilities and older adults get the care they need during the pandemic.