The Improving Care for Veterans Act will address high rates of COVID-19 infections in state Veterans Homes, prevent future disease outbreaks by providing accountability and modernizing standards for Veteran housing facilities
Following introduction, Senator Warnock’s bill was taken up by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee at Wednesday hearing – WATCH HERE
Senator Reverend Warnock: “This is about raising our standards of care to protect those who laid it all on the line and courageously served our country. The Improving Care for Veterans Act will create life-saving reforms to improve health outcomes for heroes in our state Veterans Homes, like in Milledgeville and Augusta, Georgia”
COVID-19 devastated nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and Veterans Homes across the country. Within the first months of the pandemic, COVID-19 had infected 181 patients and took the lives of 42 people at Georgia’s two nursing homes for veterans in Milledgeville and Augusta
Senior VA official: “We fully support this bill and the provisions of providing a governing body, infection preventionist, and an emergency plan” – MORE from Wednesday’s SVAC Hearing HERE
ICYMI: Georgia Senators secure $1.5 Million for grants to Milledgeville and Augusta State Veterans Nursing Care Homes — READ MORE on WRCBTV
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced legislation to improve the health and safety of veterans in state Veterans Homes. The Improving Care for Veterans Act is aimed at reducing infections of COVID-19 and other diseases to protect Veterans’ health and improve accountability in Veterans Homes by establishing preventative guidelines and updating public health protections to align their standards with those of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. This bill will update standards to help prevent future pandemic deaths and outbreaks at Georgia’s nursing care homes for veterans and Veterans Homes across the country.
“This is about raising our standards of care to protect those who laid it all on the line and courageously served our country,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “The Improving Care for Veterans Act will create life-saving reforms to improve health outcomes for heroes in our state Veterans Homes, like in Milledgeville and Augusta, Georgia. Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and we must always ensure at home we are committed to honoring that sacrifice and service by ensuring we’re providing them the utmost care and support.”
Shortly after introduction, Senator Warnock’s bill received a hearing in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs committee, where committee leadership and administration officials expressed their strong support for the legislation. During the hearing, Dr. Elizabeth Brill, MD, Deputy Assistant Under Secretary for Health for Clinical Services and Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Veterans Health Administration, said she “fully supports” Senator Warnock’s bill, and highlighted why key components such as hiring infection preventionists and standardizing emergency plans is vital to protection for veterans. (View discussion beginning at 42:40 here.)
The Improving Care for Veterans Act would:
- Improve management for Veterans Homes by changing federal requirements for the administrator or deputy superintendent of any Veterans Home facility, requiring them to have a similar medical licensure as is required for skilled nursing facility administrators;
- Improve the governance and oversight of Veterans Homes by requiring the governing body of any Veterans Home to be more than one person;
- Enhance infection control and prevention by requiring all facilities to employ an infection preventionist, similar to state long-term care facilities;
- Improve reporting and management at Veterans Homes by requiring each facility to submit an annual emergency plan to the VA; and
The new legislation follows Senator Warnock’s work to improve the safety and livelihoods of Georgia’s veterans. Recently, Senator Warnock led calls to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to increase mental health outreach to veterans during the Afghanistan withdrawal and strengthen veteran’s health care services at the Atlanta VA which serves more than 126,000 veterans across metro Atlanta and North Georgia. Additionally, he secured grants for Georgia’s two state veteran homes and introduced legislation to study disparities in service benefits for veterans of color.
Read the full bill text here.