Moran’s bill updates VA caregivers program for veterans

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced legislation this month that would modify the family caregiver program in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to include services related to mental health and neurological disorders.

Specifically, the Reinforcing Enhanced Support through Promoting Equity for Caregivers Today (RESPECT) Act, S. 216, would amend the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) to require that certain mental health professionals and neurological specialists participate in the evaluation and assessment process for United States military veterans, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Moran’s staff.

“Our nation’s veterans, who require a caregiver because of a mental health condition or brain injury, deserve an evaluation and assessment process that works for them,” Sen. Moran said, “and their caregivers deserve support as close to home as possible.” 

Additionally, S. 216 would create an assessment waiver process for caregivers of veterans with chronic or degenerative conditions, and ensure that certain caregivers have access to mental health resources in the community, the summary says.

“Receiving input from a veteran’s previous healthcare provider and providing access to a thorough history of a veteran’s treatment will help the VA provide timely resources to veterans,” said Sen. Moran. “Allowing caregivers to seek mental health care outside of the VA will help them stay healthy, strong, and able to continue supporting their veteran loved ones.” 

Among several other provisions, S. 216 also would require the VA to create a process and requirements for treating clinicians to properly document certain mental health episodes when eligible veterans present at VA medical facilities and to ensure such documentation is shared with the PCAFC, according to the summary.

“The RESPECT Act was born out of conversations with Kansas veterans and caregivers, and I am glad that I could take their concerns back to the Senate and make meaningful change on their behalf,” said Sen. Moran, who previously introduced the legislation during the 117th Congress.