By Ramona du Houx

August 6, 2012

Congressman Mike Michaud is empathetic for Vietnam Veterans at a welcome home ceremony for them in Waterville, Maine. photo by Ramona du Houx
Today, President Obama signed into law legislation authored by Congressman Mike Michaud, Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health, that helps ensure severely disabled and elderly veterans are able to get the care they need at Maine’s state veterans homes in Augusta, Bangor, Caribou, Scarborough, South Paris, and Machias. Michaud’s bill passed the final vote it needed in Congress on July 31st.

“The signing of this bill today marks progress for our nation’s veterans,” said Michaud. “I thank all members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, that worked with me to help make this new law a reality. It will help ensure that our veterans homes are no longer saddled with inadequate reimbursement rates for the care they provide to our nation’s heroes. Now Maine’s severely disabled and elderly veterans can be confident that the care they deserve will be there when they need it.”

Michaud bill helps homes in Augusta, Bangor, Caribou, Scarborough, South Paris, and Machias.

Michaud’s bill, which has 49 bipartisan cosponsors, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enter into contracts or provider agreements with state veterans homes in order to reimburse them adequately for the care they provide. The bill was introduced to address the flawed implementation of a VA program that was designed to improve long-term care for the most severely disabled veterans, but instead has limited reimbursements to state veterans homes across the nation.

“Passage of this bill is a win for Maine veterans,” said Michaud. “They deserve access to the care they need, and this bill will help ensure that inadequate VA reimbursements to state veterans homes won’t be a roadblock. While it’s been years in the making, I’ve been proud to work with Maine veterans and the team at Maine Veterans’ Homes to advance this critical fix.”

Without this legislation, state veterans homes would not get reimbursed properly by VA for the services they provide to veterans. According to the National Association of State Veterans Homes, the average rate for such care is roughly $359 per veteran per day, while the VA currently only reimburses the homes $235 per day. This difference of $124 per day amounts to over $45,000 per year for each covered veteran.

Maine Veterans’ Homes is a public, non-profit system of state veterans homes established by the government of the State of Maine that currently operates hundreds of skilled nursing, long-term care nursing, and domiciliary beds at locations in Augusta, Bangor, Caribou, Scarborough, South Paris, and Machias.