Senate passes Hirono, Hatch bill to expand long term health care coverage for veterans

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed Senators Mazie K. Hirono and Orrin G. Hatch’s (R-Utah) State Veterans Home Adult Day Health Care Improvement Act, a bill to ensure that severely disabled veterans are able to receive adult day health care services at no cost to them by defining the program as a reimbursable treatment option through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“VA coverage of adult day health care allows Hawaii veterans and their families to afford comprehensive services to maintain their quality of life and care for their service-connected conditions,” said Senator Hirono. “By passing the State Veterans Home Adult Day Health Care Improvement Act, the Senate affirmed the importance of expanding access to this care for veterans in Hawaii and across the country.”

The Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo is one of a few state veterans homes across the country that offers adult day health care services, which allow veterans in need of nursing home care to live in their own homes while receiving comprehensive medical, nursing, and personal care services.

“We’d like to thank Senator Hirono for her steadfast efforts in making this legislation a reality” said David R. Pettijohn, Administrator of the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo, Hawaii. “The Okutsu State Veterans Home is evaluating the financial feasibility of continuing this service. Enactment of this legislation, and its financial impact, will need to be assessed to determine if sufficient to sustain this service going forward.”

The VA currently covers about one third of the cost of adult day health care for eligible veterans at state veterans homes. The remaining expense of the program is paid for the facility or directly by veterans and their families, which significantly limits the number of veterans who can enroll.

The State Veterans Home Adult Day Health Care Improvement Act is supported by the National Association of State Veterans Homes (NASVH), the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and AMVETS.