ICYMI: Esty Speaks Out in Support of VA MISSION Act
May 16, 2018
Bill includes language from Esty’s CARE for all Veterans Act
WASHINGTON, D.C.–This afternoon, Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) spoke on the House floor to express her support for the VA MISSION Act of 2018, which was passed by a vote 347-70. The bill includes language from Esty’s bipartisan legislation, H.R. 1802 the CARE for All Veterans Act. Esty, along with Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) introduced this legislation in March 2017. Currently, the Program of Comprehensive Assistance to Family Caregivers is only available to veterans injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001. The CARE for All Veterans Act would expand the program to serve veterans of all service eras. Below is an excerpt from Esty’s floor remarks:
“Since my first days in Congress, I have heard from veterans and their caregivers about the important assistance provided through the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. Family caregivers provide loving and essential care at home to our injured veterans from bathing and dressing, housework, and transportation, to administering physical and medical therapies,” said Esty, ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.
“Caregivers are true partners in the delivery of healthcare to our veterans and it is important we recognize their tremendous service and their worth. In 2010, Congress stepped up to offer the family caregivers of veterans’ assistance in performing these vital tasks. That is why since being elected to Congress, I have authored legislation in every session to expand this assistance for family caregivers. Today, this Congress has the opportunity to honor and support veterans of all service eras by voting for this bill. It is time we treat our injured veterans of all eras equally and expand VA caregivers programs to all injured veterans.”
“I want to emphasize that I share the Ranking Member’s concerns regarding the long-term sustainability of the program. Congress will have to work closely with the VA as this new community care program is implemented to ensure that this program is sustainable without cuts to other veterans or important domestic programs.
“The bill we are considering today will help ensure that our veterans are getting the care that they need, when they need it. But in addition to timely care, we must ensure that veterans have access to quality care. As we send veterans outside the VA system to private medical providers, we need to ensure that those doctors and other health care professionals are capable of delivering the quality care that our veterans deserve.
“While I applaud the expansion of care in this bill, I am concerned about the potential for fraud, waste, and abuse as VA begins to send more veterans outside the VA system to private medical providers. That is why, it is vital that Congress remains engaged with the implementation of this new program, to make sure that our veterans are receiving high quality health care from qualified providers, and that we are being careful stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars.”
Click here or the image above to view Esty’s full remarks on the House floor
Services provided by the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers include:
- A monthly stipend;
- Travel expenses (including lodging and per diem while accompanying veterans undergoing care);
- Access to health care insurance (if the caregiver is not already entitled to care or services under a health care plan);
- Mental health services and counseling;
- Comprehensive VA Caregiver Training provided by Easter Seals; and
- Respite care (not less than 30 days per year).
A caregiver must be 18 years of age and can be a family member, a friend, or someone who lives with the veteran full time. Often the dedication and time to caring and supporting a veteran in their daily activities can take an emotional and physical toll on the caregiver and loved one, and these support services provide invaluable assistance.
The 2014 RAND Corporation report “Hidden Heroes: America’s Military Caregivers” estimates that there are 5.5 million military caregivers in the United States and that only 20 percent care for post-9/11-era veterans. Meanwhile, the RAND study also notes that “assistance provided by caregivers saves the United States millions of dollars each year in health care costs and allows millions of veterans to live at home rather than in institutions.”