All veterans would be eligible for VA hospice care under House bill

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All veterans would be entitled to hospice care if recently introduced federal legislation becomes law. Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) introduced the “Care for Our Heroes Act” Thursday in the House of Representatives.

Under current law, veterans must meet certain prior care requirements and income and asset thresholds to qualify for hospice care at facilities run by the Department of Veterans Affairs. There also is variation in how different VA facilities and caseworkers interpret the hospice rules, according to Collins' office. The bill would eliminate current barriers to care and simplify the relevant statute.

“It was a shock to learn that some of our veterans who have given so much to this country were not allowed to receive VA hospice care at the end of their lives,” Collins said. The act “will ensure that we have straight-forward rules to protect those who served when it comes to hospice care.” 

Collins' attempt to expand VA hospice care comes during a time of crisis for the veterans' healthcare system. Its failure to provide timely care has had fatal consequences for some vets, according to recent revelations that have sparked public outrage and political upheaval. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki issued a public statement pledging to fix the problems last week, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle called for his resignation.

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