Biden Signs Kilmer-Led Legislation to Plan for Washington’s Aging Veteran Population
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) announced that President Biden signed into law his legislation, the Planning for Aging Veterans Act, as part of a government funding package passed by the House and Senate in December. The new law aims to pave the way for future investments in long-term care, improve the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) relationship with State veterans’ homes, and expand the care veterans residing in state-run veterans’ homes receive.
“If you served our country, the federal government should have your back. That’s why I’m working to ensure that our brave veterans have the long-term care that they need to live with dignity,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Now that it’s law, the Planning for Aging Veterans Act will help make the VA step up to ensure all veterans in our region, and in every corner of our country, have the support and care that they have earned and deserve.”
To support Washington’s aging veteran population, the Planning for Aging Veterans Act will:
- Require the VA to develop a strategy addressing the current and future long-term care needs of veterans to identify areas for future investment.
- Standardize the process across the VA for medical centers entering into sharing agreements with State homes.
- Clarify the VA policy to ensure catastrophically disabled veterans residing in a State home receive their medications without a copayment, as they would if they resided elsewhere.
- Require that any deficiencies during State veterans’ home inspections are reported to the VA and inspection reports are published on the VA website.
- Create a pilot program that will provide geriatric psychiatry assistance to eligible veterans at State veterans’ homes.
- Instruct the VA to work with public housing authorities and local organizations to assist aging homeless veterans in accessing existing housing and supportive services.
Nearly 50 percent of the 9 million veterans currently enrolled in the VA’s health care system are at least 65 years of age. From 2018 to 2028, the number of enrolled veterans aged 75 and older is projected to grow by 46 percent, and during the same time frame, the number of enrolled veterans under age 75 is projected to drop by 14 percent. A recent GAO report outlined the current state of state-run veterans’ homes and called for greater oversight of the quality of these homes by the VA.
Veterans’ advocates have indicated that veterans will also benefit from home- and community-based services (HCBS) to support the desire to age in place. Rep. Kilmer has long advocated for expanded access to HCBS and helped pass the American Rescue Plan, which included $12.7 billion in funding for HCBS to help people with disabilities and older adults get the care they needed during the pandemic.
Last year, President Biden signed into law the Honoring our PACT Act to invest in VA’s infrastructure workforce through new recruitment and retention incentives, fund 31 new VA facilities, and deliver additional tools to build clinics more efficiently.
# # #