Collins’ bill expanding dementia care for veterans slated to become law

Bipartisan legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to close a current gap in care for military veterans living with early-stage dementia, is set to be signed into law by the president as part of a broader veteran benefits improvements package.

“This bipartisan legislation will provide the flexibility needed to ensure that veterans with early-stage dementia do not fall through the cracks and that the VA can help address the growing needs for assistance for these patients,” Sen. Collins said on Dec. 17.

The State Veterans Homes Domiciliary Care Flexibility Act, which Sen. Collins introduced in August with cosponsors U.S. Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Angus King (I-ME), last week received congressional approval from both chambers of Congress as part of the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020, H.R. 7105.

“In Maine, we lead the way in caring for our veterans. For more than 40 years, Maine Veterans’ Homes has been a vital part of our state’s commitment to our heroes,” said Senator Collins. “My father, Donald Collins, a decorated World War II veteran, was cared for by the Veterans’ Home in Caribou at the end of his life, so I know firsthand the compassion and care that Maine Veterans’ Homes provide.”

Maine Veterans’ Homes has provided domiciliary care for veterans with early-stage dementia in its facilities since 2004, but newly enforced U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) eligibility requirements have limited access for many veterans, according to Sen. Collins’ office.

The State Veterans Homes Domiciliary Care Flexibility Act will address the situation by providing the VA with additional flexibility to allow veterans with early-stage dementia to receive care.

“This legislation will correct a decades-old administrative oversight that has negatively impacted Maine veterans and their families,” said Maine Veterans’ Homes CEO Kelley Kash, who thanked the legislators for advancing Sen. Collins’ bill.