Sinema Introduces Bipartisan Bill Making Long-Term Care Options for Veterans More Affordable

Mar 5, 2020

Senator’s bill, backed by Arizona veterans, requires the VA to expand access to long-term care options for veterans

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema today introduced the bipartisan Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act—legislation requiring the VA to expand veterans’ access to the Medical Foster Home (MFH) program. This VA program allows veterans in need of long-term care to choose to live in the home of a VA-approved caregiver, rather than enter into institutional care. Sinema’s bipartisan bill will save Arizona veterans thousands of dollars on critical long-term care, while providing veterans with the option to stay in their communities in a home-like setting where they can receive personalized care.
“Arizona veterans who sacrificed for our freedoms deserve affordable, quality health care. Increasing options for veterans who would prefer to remain in their communities rather than nursing homes will support veterans’ quality of life and save money for veterans and taxpayers,” said Sinema. 
“The DAV, Department of Arizona fully supports Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s bill which fixes a funding gap for the VA to allow them to cover the costs associated with Veterans living in Medical Foster Homes who are otherwise entitled to VA provided nursing home care,” said Commander Glenn Hohman, DAV, Department of Arizona.
“As an Army veteran and retiree, I am very supportive of the Long Term Care Veterans Choice Act and applaud Senator Sinema for introducing it. I am confident this bill represents a cost effective alternative that most veterans will prefer to a traditional nursing home. The VA training support to MFH caregivers, screening, and VA checks included in this legislation are important to ensuring the quality care that our veterans deserve,” said Gary Melton, Member of Sinema’s Veterans Advisory Council.
“Our veteran population is aging and requiring housing, services and support not currently available from the Veterans Health Administration programs such as HUD/VASH, or our transitional Grant/PerDiem programs. Senaor Kyrsten Sinema’s bill offers long term care and supportive housing to our senior veterans, many from previous eras and conflicts such as the Korean and Vietnam wars. Placing our aging veterans in a comfortable, family like setting, at a significantly lower cost than an assisted living facility, will provide a much needed alternative for veterans, and free up resources in our current VHA housing programs for those veterans who are best suited for ongoing programs,” said Terry Araman, Member of Sinema’s Veterans Advisory Council.

Currently, the VA has an approved Medical Foster Home program, allowing veterans with serious conditions who need a nursing home level of care but prefer a non-institutional setting to live in private homes of VA-approved caregivers. The VA program allows no more than three veterans to reside in the same home to ensure a high level of personalized care and promote a family-like setting. Unfortunately, the VA does not cover the care of this program and veterans must pay out-of-pocket for this option. The typical rate in a traditional nursing home is $7,000 a month, while the cost of a medical foster home is $1,500-$3,000 a month. Sinema’s Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act requires the VA to cover the cost of care of the medical foster home program, potentially saving Arizona veterans thousands of dollars a month.
Sinema has long been a champion for Arizona veterans and servicemembers. Last year, Sinema’s LEGION Act, which extends American Legion membership to honorably discharged veterans since World War II, and her Protecting Affordable Mortgages for Veterans Act, which safeguards veterans from predatory loan practices and helps them more easily access their earned homeowner benefits, became law.
Last year, Sinema championed into law the bipartisan Sgt. Daniel Somers Network of Support Act, which was named after Sgt. Daniel Somers—an Arizona Army veteran who lost his life to suicide. Sinema’s bipartisan law requires the Department of Defense to work with the American Red Cross to collect from new servicemembers the names of loved ones they consider to be their networks of support. The Department of Defense will provide those individuals with information about benefits and services available to military members.
Sinema introduced and advanced out of committee, the bipartisan Veterans Network of Support Act—legislation that ensures the VA has a similar system in place to help veterans thrive in civilian life.