Cheryl Schmitz, Deputy Executive Director of the VHA Geriatrics and Extended Care program, announced that the VA intends to increase funding for home care services by the 2025-26 budget cycle.
Schmitz shared the news during a panel discussion on the Opportunities and Challenges in Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and VA-funded home care during the HCAOA Annual Leadership Conference last Monday. The panel discussion was moderated by Doug Robertson of Right at Home and featured Andy Friedell of healthAlign, Esme Grewal of BrightSpring Health Services, and Schmitz.
The VA realizes that home care is a key solution in caring for the nation’s veterans and is seeking to put more resources against those services. Elaborating on the meaning of the increase, Schmitz indicated that the additional funding will allow VA to increase the average number of hours of home care veterans receive from the current average of 16 hours per week.
Until the additional funding is in place, veterans can seek additional hours of care on an as needed basis. This can be done through a request from the home care provider to the social worker and, if that does not result in more hours, the home care provider can suggest to the veteran or their family that they contact their primary care provider at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and request additional hours.
Related to budget funding, the House Veterans Affairs Committee marked up and passed the Elizabeth Dole Act in July. This bill would make many improvements to the community care programs operated by the VA and allow the Department to spend the same amount on community care as it does on skilled nursing facility care—allowing for more hours of care in the home. The Elizabeth Dole Act is currently awaiting a vote on the House floor.
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