Senator Murray Introduces Bill to Support Long-term Care Needs of Veterans, Help Improve VA Oversight and Support for State Homes

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced the Planning for Aging Veterans Act that would pave the way for future investments in long-term care, improve VA’s relationship with State veterans homes, and expand the care veterans residing in state-run veterans homes receive.

“Long-term care can define the quality of life for many older Americans, so it’s vital VA is taking steps to provide quality long-term care solutions for our veterans,” said Senator Murray. “In particular, I want to make sure VA is prioritizing the long-term care needs of all veterans, including veterans who have too often been overlooked like women or veterans with disabilities. As more and more veterans seek out long-term care options, it’s on us to make sure we’re taking care of them.”

The Planning for Aging Veterans Act of 2021 would pave the way for future investments in long-term care, improve VA’s relationship with State veterans homes, and expand the care veterans in State homes receive. This legislation would:

  • Require VA to develop a strategy addressing the current and future long-term care needs of veterans to identify areas for future investment.
  • Standardize the process across VA for medical centers entering into sharing agreements with State homes.
  • Clarify VA policy to ensure catastrophically disabled veterans residing in a State home receive their medications without a copayment, as they would if they resided elsewhere.
  • Require that any deficiencies during State home inspections are reported to the VA and inspection reports are published on the VA website.
  • Create a pilot program which will provide geriatric psychiatry assistance to eligible veterans at State homes.
  • Instruct VA to work with public housing authorities and local organizations to assist aging homeless veterans in accessing existing housing and supportive services.

Nearly 50 percent of the 9 million veterans currently enrolled in VA’s health care system are at least 65 years of age. From 2018 to 2028, the number of enrolled veterans aged 75 and older was projected to grow by 46 percent, and during the same time frame, the number of enrolled veterans under age 75 was projected to drop by 14 percent. A recent GAO report outlined the current state of state-run veteran homes and called for greater oversight of quality of these homes by VA.

Many veterans would also benefit from home- and community-based services to support the desire to age in place. Senator Murray has consistently stressed the need to build robust caregiving infrastructure and make a historic investment in home- and community-based care services (HCBS), and this year President Biden proposed a historic $400 billion investment in HCBS in the American Jobs Plan that reflects Senator Murray’s longtime priorities. This funding would help make HCBS available to every eligible American—ensuring better care for those who want to age in place, better pay and benefits for care workers, and a better quality of life for all Washington state families.

Senator Murray has long fought for expanded access to HCBS, and was critical in securing an estimated $12.7 billion in funding for HCBS in the American Rescue Plan, to ensure people with disabilities and older adults get the care they need during the pandemic.

See a one-pager on the bill HERE.