December 11, 2019
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) cosponsored bipartisan legislation to strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) caregiver program. Introduced by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the Transparency and Effective Accountability Measures (TEAM) for Veteran Caregivers Act gives caregivers and veterans an opportunity to appeal any downgrade or termination of benefits and ensures all caregivers are recognized as part of the clinical team attending to veterans.
“After serving our country bravely and selflessly, Nevada’s veterans deserve compassionate, comprehensive care as they settle into civilian life. Caregivers provide crucial support for our veterans, especially those suffering from chronic conditions, and they must be empowered with every necessary resource to do their important work. Our country can never truly repay the debt we owe our veterans, but ensuring they have access to quality care and every support possible are important steps we must take.”
In addition to Senators Cortez Masto, Peters and Blackburn, U.S. Senators Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) also cosponsored this legislation.
The Transparency and Effective Accountability Measures for (TEAM) Veteran Caregivers Act takes a number of steps to improve the VA caregiver program, including:
- Ensuring all caregivers are included in the veterans’ medical records. Currently, only certain caregivers participating in the Caregiver Support Program are included in veterans’ medical records. Including all caregivers in medical records strengthens communication between VA and caregivers and recognizes them as part of the clinical team.
- Establishing a minimum standard of information in downgrade notification letters. This bill would require VA to provide additional context and explanation leading to downgrade or termination decisions. Caregivers have reported that their decision letters are sometimes missing important information that would be necessary to file an appeal.
- Extending benefits for at least 90 days after a termination letter is sent for cases where a veteran is deemed “no longer clinically eligible” for the program. Caregivers have reported being dropped within a couple weeks of receiving a termination letter and have no time to appeal or make new accommodations. This codifies the VA’s goals of maintaining care.
Full text of the bill is available here.
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