The federal government will pay for disabled veterans now residing in assisted-living facilities, under a bill passed by Congress in December.
But the measure doesn’t cover veterans who may move to such places in the future.
Disabled veterans living at retirement homes, including those at Seacrest Retirement Center in West Haven, HighVue Manor in Hamden, and Mattatuck Health Care in Waterbury, were told in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that coverage of their housing was a mistake and would end. The coverage began in 2010.
U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro obtained extensions for the Connecticut veterans who sought her help and she proposed the language in the bill approved that ensured their coverage would continue.
Residential care facilities affected by the legislation serve veterans who can’t live independently, but don’t need the skilled nursing care of nursing homes. The facilities generally provide services such as, housing, food, housekeeping and supervision of medicines.
The bill approved states that “ending equitable relief for veterans who were deemed eligible for benefits in error would place an unfair burden on veterans and their families.” It also notes that the “VA is working to implement new systems and protocols to eliminate instances of administrative error.”
Lewis Bower, owner of Seacrest, said that the 2013 notice affected 23 of his residents. As a result, he said, “they got scared” and 17 moved out, some to nursing homes. The six who stayed received extensions of their VA contracts with the help of DeLauro, a New Haven Democrat. Some said they would have been homeless otherwise.
“After serving our nation, no veteran should ever have to worry about not receiving care, especially in retirement when additional health issues may arise,” DeLauro said.
“Forcing these veterans to lose their benefits because of an error that was not their fault would have been wrong, and in some cases, may not have been in the best interest of their mental or physical well-being,” she said.
Bower expressed gratitude for the approved bill. “We at Seacrest are forever indebted to the veterans that have served our country, and we are privileged to provide them care.”
DeLauro has introduced the Veterans Residential Care Choice Act that would allow the VA to pay for eligible veterans who move to assisted-living facilities. She said she would continue to push for its passage. The measure is co-sponsored by Connecticut’s four other House members: Reps. Joseph Courtney, Elizabeth Esty, James Himes, and John Larson.