Sen. Patty Murray headshot
Sen. Patty Murray

A new Senate bill would pave the way for more veterans to move into assisted living, paid for by the Department of Veteran Affairs. 

Currently, the VA is restricted from paying room and board fees for assisted living. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT), ranking member Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) are introducing legislation that would change that.

“Creating a pilot program to develop and assess the effectiveness of assisted living care will help VA proactively prepare for the rapid increase of aging veterans expected over the next two decades,” Moran stated.

Murray added, “We make a promise to our veterans that we’ll take care of them long after their service ends, and that includes making sure the VA provides them with the assisted living care and services they have earned.”

The Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long Term Care Act would create a pilot program for eligible veterans to receive assisted living care paid for by VA. According to the bill’s sponsors, this would “allow aging veterans to live more independently and save taxpayer dollars.” The pilot program would be conducted at six Veterans Integrated Services Networks nationwide, including at least two program sites located in rural or highly rural areas and two State Veterans Homes.

The bill “would authorize VA to support assisted living programs for aging and disabled veterans, many of whom would otherwise require more expensive nursing home care,” National Association of State Veterans Homes President Heyward Hilliard said.

The proposed bill has received strong backing from various veterans service organizations and stakeholders nationwide, including the National Rural Health Association and AARP.

It would help veterans in rural areas access essential support through assisted living facilities and provide “an important alternative to nursing home care,” said National Rural Health Association CEO Alan Morgan.

AARP Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Bob Sweeney said his organization applauds the bipartisan efforts to “give veterans more options for how and where they can get the long-term care they need.”