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Oct 30, 2020

Tester to VA: Stop Denying Personal Protective Equipment for Home Health Care Workers Caring for Vulnerable Veterans During COVID-19

Ranking Member pushes Administration to quickly comply with CARES Act mandate directing VA to deliver critical personal protective equipment to providers serving homebound veterans

Ranking Member Jon Tester of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee is continuing to push the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to implement key provisions under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to ensure veterans and health care workers are protected during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Under the CARES Act, VA is required to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for home health care workers who provide care to veterans. In a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie yesterday, Ranking Member Tester demanded the Department comply with the law and quickly distribute essential PPE to home care providers and contractors during the pandemic.

“When I fought to include this provision in law, it was so that home health workers could have the necessary PPE before they even stepped foot into a veteran’s home–not for them to be forced to show up empty-handed and have to rely on the veteran patient to supply them with essential PPE,” Ranking Member Tester wrote. “VA should not be gambling with veterans’ and providers’ health by denying home health workers the PPE they need to safely do their jobs. Further, if the Department ran into issues implementing the law as intended, VA officials should have come directly to me and the other leaders of the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees.”

Tester has fought tirelessly to ensure that veterans and the staff who provide their care have better access to life-saving supplies during the pandemic. After voting to deliver nearly $20 billion to strengthen the VA’s response to COVID-19, Tester quickly called on Secretary Wilkie to implement key provisions under CARES to provide supplies to State Veterans Homes. He demanded VA proactively share PPE with veterans and employees at these facilities, and with home health care workers. Tester also pressed the federal government to make full use of its powers under the Defense Production Act, imploring Vice President Mike Pence to prioritize VA in any supply chain decisions to better protect veterans, health care professionals, and all Americans from the coronavirus.

Ranking Member Tester continued, “Seven months after enactment, it is unacceptable that VA is not complying with the CARES Act and leaving homebound veterans and their providers at-risk during a major pandemic. What is VA’s plan to comply with the CARES Act and provide both employees and contractors with appropriate PPE so they can care for veterans safely?”

Read Tester’s full letter to Secretary Wilkie HERE.

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.

Billings

Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman

Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte

Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena

208 North Montana Avenue
Suite 104
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462

Kalispell

8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974

Missoula

130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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