More than 2,600 people sent messages requesting increased funding for home- and community-based services remain in the Elizabeth Dole Act remain via HCAOA’s Legislative Action Network. Though the provision was removed from the bill, home care providers can continue to advocate for the funding by contacting their legislators.
HCAOA CEO Vicki Hoak spoke with Home Health Care News’ Patrick Filbin about the removal of the provision in a recent article.
“We started out this new session [of Congress] identifying [the Elizabeth Dole Act] as one of our priorities. We still have to play catch up in a lot of these programs, and this is one that was really disappointing,” Hoak said. “Because everyone knows that people would prefer to stay in [their] home for as long as possible. When this bill was introduced, it was going to increase [HCBS] funding to 100 percent, therefore veterans would truly have a choice.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is permitted to fund 100 percent of nursing home costs, but only up to 65 percent of home care expenses. If more services are needed, the VA requires those patients to be sent to a nursing home for costs to be covered.
“Before any legislation is passed, a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score must be calculated to determine how much legislation changes would cost the government. In this case, the government estimated the cost of increasing HCBS funding showed a 35 percent increase in non-institutional costs over 10 years. That was the reason why the committee removed the provision,” the HHCN article stated.
HCAOA believes the savings that would come from shifting care to home was not properly calculated, according to the letter HCAOA sent to the committee.
“The current cap on in-home care does not necessarily reduce the Department’s healthcare obligations to veterans – it just redirects them to the least preferred and most costly setting,” Hoak said in the letter. “The request to allow in-home care to match institutional care is not a request for more spending, but a request to allow veterans to choose where they receive their care in the most cost-efficient manner.”
HCAOA members and home care providers are encouraged to continue to use the Legislative Action Network to send updated messages to members of Congress to urge them to keep the Dole Act intact and oppose efforts to eliminate or reduce HCBS funding.
“The president, during his State of the Union speech, mentioned that we have to take care of our veterans when they come home,” Hoak said. “I think everyone is in agreement, we just have to get past some of these [misunderstandings]. We’ve got to give veterans a choice, their families a choice. That’s why this is really important to us.”
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