Long-Term Care Services for Veterans
Congressional Research Service Washington United States
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The Veterans Health Administration VHA, an operating unit of the Department of Veterans Affairs VA, is a direct service provider of health care, similar in many ways to a large private sector health care system. In addition to providing inpatient, outpatient, and a range of other medical care services, the VHA provides and purchases long-term care services. The VA is one of two federal payers of long-term care services the other being Medicaid. Since the 1960s, the VA has been authorized to provide nursing home care to eligible veterans in various settings, including VA facilities, private nursing facilities contracted by the VA, and state veterans homes P.L. 88-450. These nursing home benefits were further expanded in subsequent legislation P.L. 91-101 and P.L. 93-82. In 1999, the Veterans Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act P.L. 106-117 required the VA to provide such benefits to veterans needing nursing home care due to one of their service-connected conditions, as well as veterans who overall have a service-connected disability rating of 70 or more, who need the care for any condition, service-connected or not. In addition, the law required the VA to maintain staffing and level of services for institutional care not less than the FY1998 level the law also required non-institutional long-term care services as part of the VA medical benefits package.About 9.1 million veterans 43 of all veterans were estimated to be enrolled in the VHA in FY2016. Although the overall number of veterans in the United States has declined since FY2000, the number of veterans enrolled in the VHA has increased significantly in that same time period. In FY2000, just over 4.9 million veterans were enrolled in the VHA by FY2016 that number was estimated to have increased 86, to 9.1 million enrollees. This increase is due, in part, to the growing number of veterans with service-connected disabilities, as well as more liberal enrollment policies.
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