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May 17, 2023

Maine Congressional Delegation Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Support Maine Veterans’ Homes

Maine Veterans’ Homes is losing over $100,000 a month after the Department of Veterans Affairs stopped reimbursing domiciliary care for veterans with dementia

WASHINGTON, D.C – U.S. Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Congressman Jared Golden, have introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill to fast-track reimbursements from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to Maine Veterans’ Homes (MVH).

In 2021, Congress passed legislation authorizing the VA to cover the costs of in-home care for veterans with dementia provided by state veteran homes, but the VA has still not begun processing the reimbursements. This delay has forced MVH, and in some cases veterans and their families, to pay out-of-pocket for the care costing approximately $130,000 per month and over $2.5 million since 2019. The Reimburse Veterans for Domiciliary Care Act would require the Department to begin payments for current care as mandated by law and retroactively provide MVH with the reimbursements for past care. Senator Susan Collins and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree are co-leads on the bill.

“For decades, Maine Veterans’ Home has provided world-class care to our state’s veterans. They’ve worked hard to meet America’s commitment to those who served despite rising costs and a lack of financial support from the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Senators King and Collins and Representatives Golden and Pingree. “The Reimburse Veterans for Domiciliary Care Act requires the VA to fulfill its promises and help ensure older Maine veterans struggling with dementia can continue receiving the care they need. We hope Congress will swiftly pass our bipartisan, bicameral legislation to end the unfair reimbursement delays and meet our nation’s solemn promise to the brave men and women who answered the call of service.”

“Maine Veterans’ Homes is grateful for the efforts that have gone into the Reimburse Veterans for Domiciliary Care Act,” said Sharon Fusco, MVH Chief Executive Officer. “This bill ensures rulemaking is completed on legislation that was passed in 2021. We have incurred over $2.5 million in expenses providing care to individuals to ensure they do not fall into the cracks while we wait for the rulemaking to be completed. This legislation ensures individuals who cannot live independently have a place where they can receive needed services and honors the commitment we made as a society to serve those who have served.”

Domiciliary care was established by the VA after the Civil War as a type of in-home assisted living that is provided to older veterans who are independently mobile or semi-mobile but are incapable of living alone because of disabilities. Over 130 MVH residents receive domiciliary care, 80% of whom are on Medicaid.

The care was federally reimbursed for years, up until 2019, when the VA abruptly ended payments. The Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act, signed into law on January 5, 2021, authorized the VA resume reimbursements for domiciliary care at state homes like MVH. Twenty-eight months later, the VA has yet to announce a proposal for the payments.

The Reimburse Veterans for Domiciliary Care Act would:

  • Mandate that the VA publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register for domiciliary care reimbursements no later than 90 days from this bill being enacted.
  • Mandate that the VA enact the finalized reimbursement plan within 180 days of the proposal, or 260 days of this bill being enacted, whichever is sooner.
  • Mandate that payments to eligible veterans be retroactive to January 5th 2021 when the initial legislation was enacted.

Created by the Maine Legislature in 1977, Maine Veterans’ Homes is an independent, nonprofit organization that provides services to Maine veterans at six homes in Maine: Augusta, Bangor, Caribou, Machias, Scarborough and South Paris. Their care includes rehabilitative care, domiciliary care, nursing care, and end of life care.

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