Support grows for proposed pilot expanding assisted living access to veterans
Credit: McKnights Senior Living, Kimberly Bonvissuto
Legislation creating a pilot program allowing veterans access to assisted living care has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) introduced the Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long Term Care Act in the House, which mirrors legislation introduced this summer in the Senate. The House version is co-sponsored by Reps. Bryan Steil (R-WI), David Trone (D-MD) and Stephanie Bice (R-OK).
As McKnight’s Senior Living previously reported, the proposed three-year pilot program would expand veterans’ access to assisted living at six Veterans Integrated Services Networks, including at least two program sites in rural areas and two in state veterans homes.
The legislation was introduced after a Department of Veterans Affairs report found the annual cost to place a veteran in assisted living was $51,600 compared with $120,701 for a nursing home placement. Many veterans cannot access assisted living due to VA restrictions prohibiting funds from going toward room and board fees at such facilities.
“Argentum members operate communities that include independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities, which are home to 2 million vulnerable seniors — of which 42% are veterans or their spouses,” Argentum Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Maggie Elehwany told McKnight’s Senior Living. “The Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long Term Care Act is commonsense legislation and an important start to helping veterans access cost-effective assisted living care.”
American Seniors Housing Association President and CEO David Schless said that the legislation “makes so much sense” and will “demonstrate the value proposition of senior living.”
“Our nation’s veterans should have access to the best setting for their needs,” Schless said. “In addition to the many benefits to the seniors who live in an assisted living community, such as social engagement and personal connections which allow residents to live meaningful lives, the cost of this setting remains the lowest among the various settings for care.”
ASHA, Argentum, the National Center for Assisted Living and LeadingAge sent a coalition letter on Tuesday supporting the House bill and calling it a “commonsense approach” that will provide greater options and opportunities to veterans in accessing long-term care supportive services.
“This bill calls for feedback from veterans, geographic diversity to ensure rural participation, limits participation to Medicaid certified facilities, and provides oversight for participating assisted living communities,” the letter reads. “As a country, we must prepare for this demand for long-term care and ensure that seniors have options for quality settings such as assisted living that are also cost effective.”
The same coalition sent a similar letter in June to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee members for the legislation.
By allowing veterans who don’t need daily skilled nursing services to live in assisted living, the coalition said, the VA would see a potential nursing homes savings of $69,000 per placement per year.