Senator: Standards for facilities accepting VA reimbursements need to change

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Standards to accept reimbursement from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs should be changed for nursing homes so that they can provide more care to veterans, one lawmaker said last week.

Speaking during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs hearing on Thursday, Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) pressed VA Secretary David J. Shulkin, M.D., on how the requirements for providers accepting VA funds could be “fixed” to better serve veterans in need of long-term care.

The goal is to open more doors for veterans by alleviating provider burden, such as loosening the complexity around accepting VA reimbursement.

Currently between 10% and 15% of skilled nursing facilities accept VA reimbursement, Hoeven said during the hearing, which was titled "Reducing Burden & Increasing Access to Healthcare: Improving VA Community Care.”

“If they take VA reimbursement they have a different and additional set of standards. This needs to be changed,” Hoeven said. “They all take Medicare, they all take Medicaid. That's not fair to our veterans.”

Hoeven introduced a bill in the previous Congress that would authorize the VA to enter into agreements with providers to furnish long-term care services. A similar proposed rule to allow “extended care” agreements between private long-term care providers and the VA was withdrawn last week.

Hoeven called his long-term care-focused efforts a “mirror” of VA's work on other healthcare initiatives, noting that “long-term care is on board.”

The American Health Care Association applauded Hoeven's legislative work to make more long-term care providers eligible to care for veterans in a statement issued after the hearing.

“Senator Hoeven is an advocate for providing veterans with access to quality care,” said AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson. “He has fought to alleviate the onerous challenges that long-term care providers face when contracting with the VA. We commend his efforts.”