DAV Applauds VA Caregiver Expansion Proposal
posted on MARCH 4, 2020
BY STEPHEN WHITEHEAD – DAV NATIONAL COMMANDER
DAV applauds VA policy proposal to expand caregiver support program eligibility to seriously ill service-connected veterans.
DAV is very pleased that the VA is proposing to expand access to its caregiver support program by redefining eligibility to include all service connected veterans whose serious disabilities are caused by illnesses, rather than just injuries—a policy change we have advocated for a decade.
Far too many seriously disabled veterans and their family caregivers have been ineligible for this life-changing program due to a misinterpretation of the original caregiver law a decade ago. For example, DAV Past National Commander Dave Riley, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, lost all four limbs to a bacterial infection in 1997, yet he and his wife Yvonne would not able to receive comprehensive caregiver supports simply because his disability was caused by illness, not injury.
This regulation would finally remove any uncertainty and make them—and many others like them—eligible for this critical support. This change would also impact veterans covered by presumptive conditions based on toxic and environmental exposures, such as Agent Orange.
The full caregiver regulatory package announced by the VA today contains a number of other significant changes and we are continuing to evaluate how it will affect disabled veterans and family caregivers. However, we want to thank Secretary Wilkie and VHA’s Executive in Charge Dr. Stone for taking this important step to correct a longstanding injustice for those who suffer from serious service-connected illnesses, and of course, for those who have dedicated so much of their lives to care for them.
Key Legislative Issues
The House Veterans Affairs Committee is holding a legislative markup for many pieces of legislation. While an extensive list, these bills cover a wide-range of public policy initiatives that relate to Veterans and their families. The bills undergoing the markup are as follows:
H.R.5284: This bill amends title 38, United States Code, to authorize State Approving Agencies to carry out outreach activities.
H.R.6018: This bill authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to collect overpayments of specially adapted housing assistance.
H.R.5781: This bill amends title 38, United States Code, to make an individual who is eligible for educational assistance under chapter 33 of title 38, transfers such educational assistance to a dependent, and fails to complete a service agreement, solely liable for any overpayment of such educational assistance.
H.R.3798: This bill amends title 38, United States Code, to provide for limitations on co-payments for contraception furnished by the VA.
H.R.5766: This bill amends the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 to expand eligibility for high technology programs of education and the class of providers who may enter into contracts with the VA Secretary to provide such programs.
H.R.1647: This bill would authorize VA health care providers to provide recommendations and opinions to veterans regarding participation in State marijuana programs.
S.3084: This bill passed the Senate and is now being considered in the House. S.3084, referred to the House Veterans Affairs Committee, amends title 38, United States Code, to modify the limitation on pay for certain high-level employees and officers of the VA.
H.R.6157: This bill would improve the GI comparison tool program and update the oversight of schools who convert from a profit to a non-profit school.
H.R.6140: This is legislation that would fix the STEM scholarship to cover dual degree programs, such as medical residency.
H.R.2224: This bill, referred to as the Homeless Veterans with Children Reintegration Act, directs the Department of Labor to give homeless veterans with dependent children service priority under homeless veteran’s reintegration programs.
H.R.712: This bill requires the VA to conduct a clinical trial of the effects of medical-grade cannabis on the health outcomes of covered veterans diagnosed with chronic pain and with PTSD. For the purposes of this legislation, “covered veterans” are those who are enrolled in the VA patient enrollment system for hospital care and medical services.
H.R.6036: This bill amends title 38, United States Code, to provide for family and medical leave for certain VA employees.
H.R.5750: This bill directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide electronic certificates of eligibility to persons who are entitled to educational assistance under certain educational assistance programs of the VA.
H.R.1527: This bill amends title 38, United States Code, to authorize the VA to enter into contracts and agreements for the placement of veterans in non-Department medical foster homes for certain veterans unable to live independently.
H.R.2628: This bill amends title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide administrative support to dental care providers.
H.R.2816: This bill directs the Secretary of the VA to carry out a pilot