Bradley Introduces Legislation to Improve Access to State Veteran s Homes for Service-Disabled Veterans

For Immediate Release - Monday, July 17, 2006

Contact - Stephanie DuBois, (202) 225-5456

(Washington, D.C.) - First District Congressman Jeb Bradley, a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee,  has introduced legislation that would increase access to state veterans homes and prescription drugs through the Department of Veterans Affairs(VA) system for severely disabled service-connected veterans. H.R.5671, the "Veterans Long-Term Care Security Act," would also provide states with more flexibility to address gaps in coverage without having to construct new facilities. Rep. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) has signed on as an original cosponsor of Bradley's bill.

"With over one million veterans in the U.S. now over the age of 85, we need to ensure that we are meeting their long-term care needs," saidBradley. " Our veterans deserve nothing short of the best available care, and we owe it to them to make certain that our state veterans homes remain accessible to all veterans, regardless of their level of disability or whether or not they live in a rural area."

Under current law, the VA does not have the authority to fully pay for care for a veteran with a 70 percent or more service-connected disability residing at a state veteran home. These veterans are eligible to have their care fully paid for by the VA at a VA long-term care facility or a contracted nursing home, but not at a state veterans home. H.R. 5671 will give the VA the authority to place severely disabled service-connected veterans in state veterans homes, providing more options for veterans in need of long-term care services. Additionally, the bill will improve access to prescription drugs for these severely disabled veterans residing in state homes.

The bill also addresses gaps in coverage in rural areas by creating a new program to allow states the option to treat existing health care facilities as state veterans homes without having to construct new facilities, which can be cost-prohibitive.

Barry Conway, Commandant of the N.H. Veterans Home in Tilton, stated,"This legislation will have a significant impact on both the New Hampshire Veterans Home and the State Veterans Home program nationally. It will also have a most positive effect on the lives of all veterans residing in our Homes. On behalf of the New Hampshire Veterans Home and the others throughout the country, I want to thank Congressman Bradley for introducing and spearheading this legislation in Washington and for his steadfast support and advocacy for our veterans."

Bradley's bill has been referred to the House Veterans Affairs Committee where it awaits further consideration.