WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced bipartisan legislation that would expand veterans’ access to certain health care services and allow former service members to receive services from local providers.
The Veterans Access to Extended Care Act would give Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) the authority to enter into provider agreements for extended care services. The legislation would permit veterans to obtain non-VA extended care services from local providers that include: nursing center care, geriatric evaluation, domiciliary services, adult day health care, respite care, palliative care, hospice care, and home health care when they are “non-institutional alternatives to nursing home care.”
“I’m grateful to partner with Rep. Gabbard and my colleagues in the Senate to help simplify the complex process that non-VA providers must go through in order to provide extended care services to veterans. This legislation will help streamline partnering with the VA for these kinds of services and allow the department to work with additional healthcare providers to help ensure that every vet who needs care receives it as quickly as possible,” said Walorski.
“This bipartisan legislation will ensure that those who served our country are taken care of and given access to the health care they have earned and deserve. Bureaucracy and red tape should never get in the way of providing quality care to those who have selflessly sacrificed so much for our country. This bipartisan and bicameral partnership with Rep. Walorski and our Senate colleagues speaks strongly to the high priority we place on serving and caring for our veterans in their time of need,” said Gabbard.
Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is authorized to enter into contracts with extended care provider and it’s long-standing policy that Medicare and Medicaid providers are not considered to be federal contractors. However, if a provider currently has VA patients, they are considered to be a federal contractor under the Service Contract Act (SCA). In February 2013, the VA issued a proposed rule, RIN 2900-A015, which would make the VA reporting requirements for providers the same as they are for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Unfortunately during interagency review, VA realized that it never had the statutory authority to enter into these agreements.
Allowing extended care providers to enter into VA Provider Agreements instead of contracting would allow them to avoid complex federal contracting and reporting rules that come with being deemed a federal contractor. The Walorski, Gabbard legislation would fix this error and allow the VA to enter into provider agreements.
Companion legislation was also introduced today in the Senate by Sens. Hoeven (R-ND) and Manchin (D-WV).
Bill text and a copy of a letter signed by Walorski and Gabbard to the VA encouraging a release of the rule are attached.