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Innovative Approach To Long-Term Care For Veterans

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Location: Washington, DC


INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO LONG-TERM CARE FOR VETERANS

Legislation which would allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to take a new approach to the long-term care needs of veterans was introduced this week by U.S. Senator Larry Craig.

"The goal of the State Veterans Home Modernization Act (S. 1441) is to transition the state home program from one focused heavily on beds to one that offers flexibility for home and community-based care," said Craig, the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

The Idaho Republican made that comment during a committee hearing held Wednesday.

"I hope none of you see this bill as a sign of disapproval aimed at the state homes program. It is nothing of the sort. Rather, it simply reflects my view that this program needs to have a more forward-looking approach to long-term care," Craig said.

According to data by the Department of Veterans Affairs, at the current rate of Congressional funding, it will take nine years to fund all of the new state home construction projects currently on VA's list.

"That doesn't include any new applications. But even as we move to build more facilities, I fear if we don't begin to transition to a more non-institutional family-focused approach to care, we may find ourselves 15 years from now, staring at thousands of empty state home beds wondering what to do with half of them," Craig said.

He noted that modern technology and newer long-term care approaches already enable people to live at home longer and happier.

"It used to be that when people reached a certain age, the only option was a nursing home. Now the general public is using assisted living facilities, where seniors can live in their own apartments but have professional help nearby as needed. Other Americans are able to live at home using professionals who come by, once a day or a few times a week," Craig said.

"We need to allow state homes to have that same kind of options when thinking of providing care to veterans. My legislation will allow them that flexibility."


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