Tester, Moran Urge VA to Continue Support for Veterans Living in Nursing Homes During COVID-19 Crisis

U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kans.)—Ranking Member and Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee—are seeking additional support from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to protect the health and lives of veterans and staff in long-term care facilities during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have emerged as one of the most vulnerable settings for outbreaks,” the Senators wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Residents of these facilities, who are often elderly and have co-morbidities, are at higher risk for serious illness and death from the virus. We are committed to working with you to ensure that veterans and the staff dedicated to their care are protected and have access to key resources during the pandemic.”

The Government Accountability Office estimates that more than 105,000 veterans receive long-term care from—or paid for by—VA annually. This includes VA-run Community Living Centers (CLCs), state-run State Veterans Homes, or privately-run Community Nursing Homes. Given the high number of veterans who receive care outside of VA, the Senators urged development in the following five areas:

  • Testing Support
  • State Veterans Home Spot Checks
  • Nursing Home Support Teams
  • Nursing Home Concerns Hotline
  • Virtual Visitation for Nursing Home Residents

They continued, “Long-term care facility cases in 23 hotspot states rose by 18 percent over the first two weeks of July, with some states reporting almost 50 percent case increases. We ask for the Department to explore and implement the below approaches for supporting veterans living within and beyond VA walls, as the U.S. continues to experience heightened COVID-19 case numbers.”

Read the Senators’ letter HERE.