Hoeven pushes to expand veterans’ access to non-VA extended care providers

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) recently renewed his call for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand veterans’ access to long-term care providers that are outside of the VA network.

In a letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin, Hoeven wrote that veterans in rural and urban areas should have more access to extended care that is in or near their home communities.

“The current contracting requirements severely limit the availability of these important services for veterans, with only 14 of the 80 nursing homes in North Dakota accepting veterans,” Hoeven wrote. “By enabling provider agreements for these facilities, we can greatly improve the availability of long-term care for veterans, helping them to stay closer to home and their loved ones.”

Hoven previously pushed for the VA to be given authority to sign provider agreements with non-VA providers rather than navigating federal contracting requirements in his bill called the Veterans Access to Long Term Care and Health Services Act.

“VA provider agreements for extended care will not only improve veterans access to care, but it will bring the VA’s treatment of these facilities in line with long-standing policy under Medicare (Parts A and B) and Medicaid, where providers are not considered to be federal contractors,” Hoeven wrote.

“As employers and Medicare and Medicaid providers, nursing homes are already required to comply with a variety of employment discrimination laws and regulations,” he said. “Adding additional regulations on top of this is simply inefficient, redundant and takes staff time away from these veterans at the bedside.”

Shulkin recently accepted an invitation from Hoeven to tour local efforts in North Dakota to improve extended care for veterans, including the Veterans Care Coordination initiative at the Fargo VA. Hoeven also hosted a series of roundtable discussions with veterans around the state.

“Sen. Hoeven is a national and state advocate for veterans,” Shelly Peterson, the president of the North Dakota Long Term Care Association, said. “On behalf of veterans and their access to care at the local level, he is not giving up until it is assured. We appreciate his unending passion and drive for all veterans.”