VA Caregivers – Stakeholder Update

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March 22, 2011

The unprecedented Public Law (111-163) called the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, was signed by President Obama on May 5, 2010 and allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enhance the already extensive range of services and benefits currently available to all enrolled Veterans and their caregivers. The new law will also develop a new program of specific support and benefits designed for the primary caregivers of eligible Veterans and Service members most seriously injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001 (Post 9/11).

The latest…

Good news – Last week VA submitted an Interim Final Rule (IFR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to speed the federal rulemaking process to implement certain provisions of Public Law 111-163.This step is part of the legal process, in order for VA to implement these new so-called “authorities” to provide new support services and benefits.

Following OMB review and approval, the IFR will be effective immediately once it is published in the Federal Register, which takes a few weeks.  The IFR will also include an opportunity for public comment.  We believe that with this accelerated procedure, these unprecedented new direct-to-caregiver benefits can be fully in place for the eligible Post 9/11primary (?) caregivers as early as this summer.

While this rulemaking process is necessary for certain unprecedented direct-to-caregiver benefits (including stipend and health care coverage benefits), the other new or enhanced benefits are actually available now to caregivers of enrolled Veterans of all eras. These benefits provide all caregivers with enhanced support services such as a toll-free Caregiver Support Line (1-855-260-3274), education and training, access to online information and resources, counseling and support groups, respite care, and referrals to other VA and community resources.

Other caregiver news…

VA was the recent focus of some innovative work done on behalf of caregivers of Veterans with Alzheimer’s, called REACH VA (Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health/Department of Veterans Affairs).  Printed in the recent issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, the authors commend VA:

“Their encouraging results promise some relief to the increasing number of family members and patients who are coping with Alzheimer disease and dementia…”

For the entire article please visit  the Archives of Internal Medicine website.

Additional commentary is available at: by clicking here.

Did you know…

VA has been supporting caregivers for more than seven decades? Darlene Richardson, a historian at VA’s Veterans Health Administration, told us –

“The earliest benefit I found for an ‘attendant’ assisting a Veteran was a 1940 law that reimbursed actual costs for taking a Veteran someplace for medical exams/treatment and back.  This appears to be the first law, as past benefits went directly to the Veteran.

A prior law dated Aug. 27, 1888 reimbursed state homes for taking care of Veterans at a rate of $120 per person/per year.  It’s possible that Public Health Service nurses served as caregivers, as there are money transfers to PHS over the years, but there are no details about the expenditure and whether it was a reimbursement.

The term caregiver, in the past, was used for those taking care of children, so the contextual meaning has changed in recent years (1980s).”

Don’t miss it

Join the more than 1,552 people who have watched this short video that introduces you to a few of the extraordinary Caregivers of Veterans.

 

Watch this space for further updates on VA and Caregivers of Veterans…

 

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