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Veterans Health

S. 91 Creating a Reliable Environment for Veterans Dependents Act

S. 91 would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay homeless grant providers to include care for homeless veteran’s minor dependents while the veteran is receiving services for which they are reimbursed.  Authorizing payment for this care would ensure a homeless veteran does not have to choose between treatment and keeping her or his family together. 

VA’s Homeless Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program has long been an important source of transitional housing for homeless veterans.  Generally operated by community providers who receive grant funding from VA, in 2017, these programs offered the homeless veteran population 12,500 beds devoted to providing supportive housing and/or supportive services.  Veterans may enter these programs to stabilize their medical and behavioral health issues, learn or re-learn independent living and vocational skills and seek services and benefits that help them recover from life on the streets. Most veterans stay in transitional housing for about 6 months.

This bill is in accord with DAV Resolution No. 291 which supports sustained and sufficient funding to improve services for homeless veterans and DAV Resolution No. 173 which supports VA’s provision of child care services and assistance for a variety of VA programs including those for homeless veterans.

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VA Appeals Modernization

Recent VA Appeals Modernization allows Veterans to seek faster resolution of their disagreement with a VA decision.   

https://benefits.va.gov/benefits/appeals.asp

VA Appeals Modernization 1

VA Appeals Modernization 2
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The public can now comment on VA’s proposed rules for expanding private-sector care

By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPESPublished: February 23, 2019

WASHINGTON – Starting Friday, the Department of Veterans Affairs began collecting feedback on its proposed rules to expand veterans’ access to private doctors.

The public has until March 25 to comment on the rules. At that point, the agency could use the feedback to make changes before it implements a new private-sector care system in June.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie unveiled his proposed rules at the end of January – a plan that he said would “revolutionize VA health care as we know it.”

“With VA’s new access standards, the future of the VA health care system will lie in the hands of veterans – exactly where it should be,” Wilkie said in a statement at the time, noting President Donald Trump promised veterans more choice about where they receive treatment.

The VA Mission Act, signed by Trump last year, calls for a new community care program to be in place by summer. The law gave the VA secretary broad authority to create new rules for it.

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Under Wilkie’s draft rules, veterans who must drive more than 30 minutes to reach their VA mental health or primary care providers — or wait longer than 20 days for an appointment — would be allowed to use a private doctor.

For specialty care, veterans could go outside the VA for medical treatment if a VA provider was longer than a 60-minute drive away or they faced a 28-day wait.

Veterans could also seek private treatment if the services they need is unavailable at a VA facility, if they live in a state without a full-service VA medical center, if it’s determined to be in their “best medical interest,” or if the VA determines its services in that area don’t meet quality standards.

Since Wilkie announced the rules, some lawmakers and veterans organizations have accused him of a lack of transparency and collaboration. Twelve senators complained Wilkie released the rules “before engaging in meaningful consultation with Congress.”

Democrats are particularly worried the new rules could give veterans unfettered access to private doctors, which they think could erode VA resources.

Adrian Atizado, deputy legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, said veterans groups still lacked basic information, such as cost analyses or estimates.

“Part of the concern is there’s not going to be enough information,” Atizado said. “They may have some information, but very little budget justification… It’s like a fortress over there.”

The VA has fought back against the accusations, claiming the agency was “providing unprecedented transparency.”

The proposed rules were posted to the Federal Register. Comments can be submitted by email at regulations.gov or by mail addressed to the Director of Office of Regulation Policy and Management at the Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave., NW, Room 1063B, Washington, DC 20420. Comments can also be faxed to 202-273-9026.

Read the rules of the proposed Veterans Community Care Program here.

Comment on the proposed rule changes here.

wentling.nikki@stripes.com
Twitter: @nikkiwentling

VA Benefits for Reimbursement of Cremation Expenses

VA Benefits for Reimbursement of Cremation Expenses A. $300 is available for honorably discharged veterans if one of the following conditions are met: Veteran was receiving a pension or disability benefits from the VA at the time of death. Death occurred in a VA hospital. Death occurred in a VA nursing home or VA contracted […]