Veterans’ Affairs Committee Passes Bill to Provide Training and Support for Veteran Caregivers

The Committee approved a comprehensive bill to expand necessary life insurance options for veterans and their families, as well as improve medical services at VA hospitals and clinics around the country. Also passed were bills to streamline the process for nonprofit research and education corporations to participate in VA research endeavors, increase the amount available to disabled veterans for structural improvements for their homes, and provide essential support and training to those caring for this Nation’s wounded veterans.

H.R. 3219 – To make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs relating to insurance and health care. (Filner)

This comprehensive bill would expand options for veterans and service members to obtain life insurance policies that better fit their needs, and the needs of their families. The bill also improves health services for veterans by increasing participation of physician assistants at the Veterans Health Administration, prohibiting the collection of copayments for certain veterans who are catastrophically disabled, establishing a ‘Committee on Care of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury’, expanding nursing home care for certain veterans, and allowing Medal of Honor recipients to receive a priority status for medical services.

H.R. 3219 includes provisions from eight bills previously approved by Subcommittees of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The bills are H.R. 2774 (Halvorson), H.R. 2379 (Buyer), H.R. 2968, as amended (Kirkpatrick), H.R. 1197 (Mitchell), H.R. 1302 (Hare), H.R. 1335, as amended (Halvorson), H.R. 1546 (McNerney), and H.R. 2926, as amended (Nye).

H.R. 2770, as amended – Veterans Nonprofit Research and Education Corporations Enhancement Act of 2009 (Filner)

This bill would modify and update provisions of law relating to nonprofit research and education corporations so they can better support VA research. Specifically, this bill expands the general authorities on establishing nonprofit research corporations by authorizing the creation of multi-medical center research corporations where two or more VA medical centers share one corporation and improves accountability of the corporations by detailing the audit requirements.

H.R. 1293 – Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009 (Buyer)

This bill provides an increase in the amount available to disabled veterans for improvements and structural alterations furnished as part of home health services.

H.R. 3155, as amended – Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act (Michaud)

This bill would provide support services to family and non-family caregivers of veterans, including educational sessions on how to be a better caregiver; one-stop access to support services via a dedicated caregiver support Internet website; and information and outreach. The bill would also make counseling and mental health services available to family and non-family caregivers of veterans.

Chairman Filner offered the following support for H.R. 3155: “Today, the Committee passed a vital bill that will provide immediate support for our wounded warriors - by providing support to their caregivers. VA often relies on caregivers to deliver essential health care services and there is no question that they should be appropriately trained and supported. These caregivers provide necessary physical and emotional support to injured and sick veterans as they work towards recovery. I thank Mr. Michaud for his hard work to address the needs of the caregivers who sacrifice so much to attend to the needs of our veterans as they heal from the wounds of war.”

The bills will next be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives.

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