Long-term care next VA focus, senator says

After approving $16.3 billion in funding for veterans' healthcare, the legislative branch of the U.S. government will turn its focus to the renovation and rebuilding of long-term care facilities for veterans, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told WCBS in New York. Don't expect that effort to start in earnest until early September, however, when lawmakers return from their summer break.

July 31, the Senate passed legislation designed to help the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system address extensive appointment-scheduling issues and treatment delays; the action followed approval by the House of Representatives. The bill is awating President Barack Obama's signature. It provides $10 billion for military veterans to seek care from non-VA healthcare providers using “Veterans Choice Cards” if they have waited more than 30 days for an appointment or if they live more than 40 miles from a VA hospital, the Washington Post reported. The bill also designates about $6.3 billion for additional medical staff and emergency leases for extra space, with the goal of increasing access to care and adding capacity, particularly in areas where veterans live far from the nearest clinic, the newspaper reported.

The VA provides long-term care to veterans in residential settings (community residential care, medical foster homes, adult family homes and assisted living), nursing homes (community living centers, community nursing homes and state veterans homes) and through home- and community-based services (adult day healthcare, home-based primary care, homemaker and home health aide care, hospice and palliative care, Program of All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly [PACE], respite care, skilled home healthcare, telehealth care and veteran-directed care).

About 6.5 million of the country's 21 million veterans receive treatment every year via the VA healthcare system, according to Fox News, although 8 million are enrolled.

Mark Hagland, editor-in-chief of Healthcare Informatics, a sister brand to Long-Term Living, contributed to this report.

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