Elizabeth Dole Act seeks to expand services for disabled and elderly veterans

Connecting Vets
Connecting Vets

Lawmakers in both houses of Congress recently introduced bipartisan legislation that improves and expands home and community-based services for disabled and elderly veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs, ensuring they are able to remain in their homes and receive the care they need.

The Elizabeth Dole Act, named in honor of Sen. Elizabeth Dole, also commissions research to comprehensively study the VA's capability to support the mental and emotional health of caregivers.

“[The bill] is precisely focused on providing solutions,” said Elizabeth Dole Foundation Cheif Executive Officer Steve Schwab in testimony before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on March 16, “solutions that are worthy of bipartisan support and that will directly address the most common and persistent hardships of our veterans, their families, and their caregivers.”

The legislation specifically:

- 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 programs;

- 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.

On the Senate side, the legislation was introduced by Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Jon Tester (D-MT), who each serve on the chamber’s Veterans Affairs Committee. On the House side, the measure was introduced by Reps. Julia Brownley (D-CA) and Jack Bergman (R-MI).

“By expanding home and community-based service, veterans will have the assistance needed to remain members of their communities, to be present in their family lives, to support caregivers, and to age with dignity,” said Brownley.

The bill also provides greater access to resources while allowing caregivers and veterans to consider and apply for services they are eligible for more easily.

The bill’s backers said the legislation exemplifies Dole’s passion for finding enduring solutions for veterans in need of long-term care and their caregivers

“Caregivers help these homebound veterans maintain their independence and stay in their own homes in their own communities for as long as possible,” said Moran. “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.”

The text of the bill can be found here.

Reach Julia LeDoux at .

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