Tester Leads Bipartisan Effort to Improve Montana Veterans’ Access to At-Home Care

Chairman introduces Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act to expand community-based services for aging veterans and support caregivers

Continuing his push to improve rural veterans’ access to health care, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester introduced the bipartisan Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act alongside U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). This legislation would expand home and community-based services for aging veterans as well as improve support for veterans and caregivers of all ages from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“In rural states like Montana where folks often have to travel great distances for health care services, making sure our aging and disabled veterans have access to convenient and quality long-term care options is critical,” said Tester. “That’s why I’m proud to join my colleagues in our bipartisan effort to provide veterans the flexibility to be cared for by their loved ones or providers of their choosing, from the comfort of their own home.”

“Senator Elizabeth Dole represents the millions of caregivers who have worked behind the scenes to care for our nation’s veterans who are impacted by advanced age or catastrophic injuries,” said Moran. “Caregivers help veterans maintain their independence and stay in their own homes in their own communities for as long as possible as they age. The Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act expands access to home and community-based services. It is fitting we name this legislation after an honorary Kansan – Elizabeth Dole – who has worked as an advocate to honor and recognize our veterans and their caregivers.”

“Senators Moran and Tester are longstanding champions of military caregivers and have brought caregiver issues to the forefront as leaders of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee over the last decade,” said Steve Schwab, CEO, Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “We are heartened by the 118th Congress’s dedication to this critical population and continue to urge Congress to provide caregivers with the support and relief they deserve.”

Among its many provisions, the Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act would:

  • Expand access to home and community-based care programs to veterans across all VA medical facilities, as well as to Native veterans enrolled in IHS or tribal health programs;
  • Create dedicated funding for the Veterans Directed Care program at each VA medical center nationwide and require VA to create a staffing model and track veterans’ demand for the program;
  • Require the creation of a centralized website to disseminate information and resources related to home and community-based programs and help veterans and caregivers determine their eligibility;
  • Require VA to review staffing and resource needs, accessibility, and other aspects of the Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care and Caregiver Support Program Office to make certain they are appropriately serving veterans and caregivers; 
  • Create a pilot program to provide home health aide services for veterans that reside in communities with a shortage of home health aides; and
  • Require VA to establish a warm handoff process for veterans and caregivers who are discharged from or ineligible for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.

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