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Mandated hospice care for veterans might be a reality

Hospice care for all war veterans might become a reality thanks to an act signed by Congressman Chris Collins.

There is a significant portion of the veteran population in the United States that is reaching old age, and for many, hospice care is needed. Congressman Chris Collins has recently introduced the Care for our Heroes Act to the House of Representatives. Collins’ act would make it so all veterans received hospice care. According to a press release from Collins’ office, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs does not currently have to provide end of life care for veterans who have not previously enrolled in the VA program.  “This gap in VA coverage was brought to my attention during one of my Veterans Advisory meetings this spring,” said Collins in a press release. “It was a shock to learn that some of our veterans who have given so much to this country were not allowed to receive VA hospice care at the end of their lives.” Grant Loomis, spokesman to Collins, said end of life care is one of the most inexpensive forms of healthcare because the focus is on comfort rather than medical procedures.  “The United States owes our veterans a debt that can never fully be repaid,” Loomis said. “If a veteran wishes to receive end of life care through the VA, it is the least we can do.”  Collins’ draft aims to streamline the process for getting approved for care. “With the complex bureaucracy of the VA,” Collins said, “The Care for our Heroes Act will ensure that we have straight-forward rules to protect those who served when it comes to hospice care.”   Loomis said the current VA guidelines regarding hospice care can be interpreted differently by individual VA facilities. “This bill amends current law to clearly mandate that all veterans are eligible to participate in VA hospice care programs regardless of income or prior program enrollment,” Loomis said.  Loomis said that currently, veterans who aren’t eligible for end of life care, or have not enrolled in the VA prior to needing care have to either access community-based hospice programs, or end up not being able to access hospice care. He said the type of care they would be mandated to receive would help them feel comfortable in their remaining days.  Larry Snyder, quartermaster at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5260, Springville, said in the past he has not experienced any problems getting care from the VA, but added that that was before the influx of veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. “It’s probably different now, based on what I’m hearing anyway,” Snyder said.  Snyder said an act that would insure all veterans could receive hospice care would definitely be a benefit to those in the Springville area.  “Right now we’ve got a lot of old timers,” Snyder said. “The WWII vets— which we’re down to a handful of— it’s something that most will probably need. The Korean War veterans, same thing, they’re up in their 80s right now, so it would be good to have.”  Jerry Jerozal, previous commander of VFW post 5260 and Vietnam War veteran, said he believes the government should fulfill its promise to veterans. “It’s my impression that if a man or woman is brave enough to raise their right hand,” Jerozal said, “They should be entitled to the care they deserve.” For the bill to pass, it will first have to be approved by the House Committee for Veteran Affairs, then it will move to the House of Representatives for approval.  “They paid their dues,” Snyder said. “It’s time for the government to give them a little pay back.”

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