By MOAA Staff
MOAA outlined its veterans health care priorities during the recent Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA) meeting in Las Vegas, topped by two critical bills offering in-home care for veterans and more support for their caregivers.
The Oct. 26-27 event came just days before the launch of National Veterans and Military Families Month and National Families Caregiver Month, and included a legislative-priorities panel discussion featuring MOAA and staffers from the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs committees.
“MOAA thanks the nurses, doctors, and other clinical staff and employees who support the system, and support veterans like me,” Cmdr. René Campos, USN (Ret), MOAA’s senior director for Government Relations, told nurse attendees. “My advocacy work is both professional and personal to me as a veteran and user of VA health care. I am especially grateful to my VA medical center nurse practitioner who is helpful, accessible, and compassionate, and who loves taking care of veterans.”
[TAKE ACTION TODAY: MOAA’s Legislative Action Center]
Atop MOAA’s list of veterans health care priorities for this session of Congress, which is rapidly ending, are two critical bills:
Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act (H.R. 542 and S. 141) — Also known as the Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act, this is a bipartisan, bicameral bill supported by many stakeholders (including MOAA) that would help veterans and their caregivers transition between caregiver support programs, assess the level of care they need, expand mental health services, and improve communication and coordination between veterans and their families and veteran service organizations like MOAA.
Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long Term Care Act (H.R. 1815 and S. 495) — Another bipartisan bill supported in both chambers would allow the VA to launch a pilot program to look at the effectiveness of paying for assisted living services. Currently, the VA is unable to pay room and board expenses at these facilities.
[TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Legislators to Support S. 495 and H.R. 1815]
Under Secretary of Health’s Priorities
The two-day meeting focused on the care and dedication of VA nurses who strive every day to provide excellent care to all veterans. Dr. Shereef Elnahal, VA’s under secretary for health, was a featured speaker at the event.
“While VA has made great strides in recruiting and retaining nurses and other clinical and medical center staff our work is far from over,” Elnahal said. “VA is looking at implementing night clinics to reduce the access backlog, exploring ways to reduce wait times, and exploring how to fully staff our patient aligned care teams. However, we need your innovative ideas to help VA health care remain equal to or better than care in the community.”
When asked by NOVA nurses what they could do to advance VA’s work, Elnahal said, “Recruit, recruit, recruit — tell your story and how awesome it is to work at VA.”
Other Legislative Priorities
MOAA was pleased to hear Veterans’ Affairs committee staffers highlighting many of our priorities, including the Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act as well as other home and community-based and long-term care provisions.
Other issues of importance to NOVA nurses and MOAA included:
- Expanding continuing education opportunities
- Fixing wage and promotion disparities within the nurse workforce
- Reducing staff burnout
- Improving safety and security at medical facilities
- Investing in medical facility infrastructure
- Improving coordination of community care
How Can MOAA Members, Partners help Veterans and the VA?
What better time to support our veteran community than by coming together to take action as our way of serving those who served during this national month of recognition.
With only a handful of weeks left this year with both the House and Senate in session, MOAA needs your help:
- Reach out to your lawmakers now to support the Elizabeth Dole Home Care Act and the Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long-Term Care Act.
- If you are a MOAA member or partner, or a current or former nurse or employee in the VA health care system, please send us your story on why the VA is a great place to work.
- If you have ideas on how the VA could innovate to improve its health care system, send them to MSC@MOAA.org so we will share your information with the under secretary.
Tips for Lifelong Caregiving
MOAA has partnered with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to provide an online resource outlining legal and financial support available to multiple generations of caregivers.