Today, Congressman Mike Michaud, Ranking Member of the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health, praised House passage of H.R. 1627, a package of bills that contains bipartisan legislation he authored (H.R. 2530) to help ensure that severely disabled and elderly veterans are able to get the care they need at Maine's state veterans homes. The bill is now cleared for President Obama's signature into law. Michaud's floor remarks as prepared for delivery can be found here.
Michaud's bill, which has 49 bipartisan cosponsors, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enter into contracts or provider agreements with state veterans homes in order to reimburse them adequately for the care they provide. The bill was introduced to address the flawed implementation of a VA program that was designed to improve long-term care for the most severely disabled veterans, but instead has limited reimbursements to state veterans homes across the nation.
"Passage of this bill is a win for Maine veterans," said Michaud. "They deserve access to the care they need, and this bill will help ensure that inadequate VA reimbursements to state veterans homes won't be a roadblock. While it's been years in the making, I've been proud to work with Maine veterans and the team at Maine Veterans' Homes to advance this critical fix."
Without this legislation, state veterans homes would not get reimbursed properly by VA for the services they provide to veterans. According to the National Association of State Veterans Homes, the average rate for such care is roughly $359 per veteran per day, while the VA currently only reimburses the homes $235 per day. This difference of $124 per day amounts to over $45,000 per year for each covered veteran.
"With approximately 25,000 beds nationwide, the financial burden on state veterans homes could become crippling," said Michaud during House floor debate on the bill today. "Passing this legislation into law will ensure our state veterans homes are paid adequately for the services they provide and can continue to serve veterans that need care."
Maine Veterans' Homes is a public, non-profit system of state veterans homes established by the government of the State of Maine that currently operates hundreds of skilled nursing, long-term care nursing, and domiciliary beds at locations in Augusta, Bangor, Caribou, Scarborough, South Paris, and Machias.