VA programs for aging veterans improved under bipartisan, bicameral Moran bill

A bipartisan, bicameral bill recently sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) would improve certain programs of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for home and community-based services offered to United States military veterans.

The Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act, S. 141, which Sen. Moran introduced on Jan. 30 with two original cosponsors, including U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), would expand community-based services for aging veterans and improve VA support for veterans and caregivers, according to information provided by the lawmakers.

The measure is named for former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a Republican who represented North Carolina from 2003 to 2009 and had a passion for supporting veterans and their caregivers, according to the information.

“Sen. Elizabeth Dole represents the millions of caregivers who have worked behind the scenes to care for our nation’s veterans who are impacted by advanced age or catastrophic injuries,” said Sen. Moran, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. 

Caregivers help aging veterans maintain their independence and stay in their own homes in their own communities for as long as possible as they age, Sen. Moran explained. 

“The Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act expands access to home and community-based services,” he added. “It is fitting we name this legislation after an honorary Kansan – Elizabeth Dole – who has worked as an advocate to honor and recognize our veterans and their caregivers.”

If enacted, S. 141 would increase the expenditure cap for non-institutional care alternative programs from 65 percent to 100 percent of nursing home care costs, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Moran’s office, and expand access to home and community-based alternative care programs to veterans at all VA medical facilities.

Additionally, the bill would require the creation of a centralized website to disseminate information and resources related to home and community-based programs and help veterans and caregivers determine their eligibility, and require the VA to review staffing and resource needs, accessibility, and other aspects of the Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care and Caregiver Support Program Office to ensure they are appropriately serving veterans and caregivers, the summary says.

A pilot program also would be created under the bill to provide home health aide services for veterans who reside in communities with a shortage of home health aides, among other provisions. 

S. 141 is identical to H.R. 542, introduced on Jan. 26 by U.S. Reps. Julia Brownley (D-CA) and Jack Bergman (R-MI). It is endorsed by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.

Sen. Moran originally introduced the same-named S. 3854 in March 2022, but the measure stalled in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.