September 11, 2003
Enid Doggett
(202) 639-6419

AFGE Issues Statement On VA Cares Plan

WASHINGTON, D.C.-AFGE National President John Gage today criticized what AFGE calls a major flaw in VA's CARES process - "a failure to adequately address the long term and extended care needs of 4.5 million veterans who will be age 75 and older by 2010. The Department of Veterans' Affairs' (VA) own projections forecast that by 2022 the VA will need to have more than 17,000 additional nursing home care beds to meet the needs of elderly and frail veterans. However, the VA's current plan for building and closing new facilities to meet the future medical needs of veterans will not meet VA's own projected need for long term and extended care beds," said Gage.

"If the CARES Commission does not consider adding additional long term and extended care beds into the system, elderly veterans will be left out in the cold," says John Gage

"VA may claim that the CARES plan shows a 'commitment' to long term care but where are the 17,000 beds that will be needed by our aging veterans?" Gage inquired. "The VA may want to have this hearing be about its planning process but in a few years when aged veterans need adult day care and long term care services, they'll want to know why the VA didn't plan to have adequate beds and staff. If VA doesn't plan to have nursing home beds to meet veterans needs in the future, it will be forcing veterans into the already overloaded Medicaid system. As a nation we should plan to take care of elderly veterans at VA facilities, not send them into the poor house."

"If the CARES Commission won't step up to change the plan by adding long term care beds then it's up to Congress to make sure that VA specify how many long term and extended care beds it will add to meet the needs of the significant elderly veteran population in 2012 and 2022"

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