Late Breaking News
Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009
- Categorized in: January 2010
WASHINGTON, DC—In November, the Senate unanimously passed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009—a bill which, among other things, would allow VA to provide the primary caregivers of veterans, whether family or close friends, with educational, financial, and medical assistance from the VA health care system.
The bill, which now awaits a vote in the House VA Committee, was designed with those veterans who need regular support and care at home—care that is usually provided by that veterans’ family at the expense of their own health and income. The legislation would provide instruction and training to one designated caregiver per veteran on how to provide the proper care at home for that veteran. VAwould cover travel, lodging, and per diem expenses during the training program. Once training is completed, the caregiver will be considered by VA to be the “personal care attendant” of the veteran.
A personal care attendant would be eligible to receive direct technical support on addressing the veteran’s needs, access to online caregiver services, counseling for themselves, and a monthly personal caregiver stipend. They would also be eligible to receive mental health services from VA, as well as medical care if they are not entitled to care under another health care plan. The caregiver would be entitled to as many as 30 days of annual respite care, which include 24-hour per day care of the veteran to permit extended respite for the caregiver.
VA would be required to send someone to the veteran’s home at least once every 6 months to provide oversight of the caregiver. If it’s found the veteran is not receiving the care he or she requires, that caregiver’s status is revoked and their caregiver assistance is terminated.
In a letter to Congress, more than 20 veteran services organizations pledged their support of caregiver assistance legislation. “Family members have unhesitatingly altered their lives to become caregivers and assist their loved ones. Often leaving jobs to provide aroundthe-clock bedside care, these caregivers have suffered loss of earnings, health insurance and other benefits,” the letter stated. “This legislation forges a new paradigm of long-term care for our wounded warriors—one that acknowledges and fully supports the vital role of the family caregiver in any successful rehabilitation plan.”