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A coalition of senior living, healthcare and veterans organizations collectively provided their continued support in a letter sent Thursday to House and Senate leadership for an assisted living pilot program geared toward serving veterans.

The American Seniors Housing Association, Argentum, LeadingAge and the National Center for Assisted Living signed a letter advocating for the Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long Term Care Act. The bill would establish a three-year pilot enabling some veterans to have their care needs met in an assisted living community rather than a Veterans Affairs home.

The associations previously voiced their support for the bill, which was reintroduced earlier this year after going nowhere last year. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health held a hearing this summer on the bill, which received the support of the US Department of Veterans Affairs — with conditions. 

The VA indicated that having the authority to provide assisted living services would help the agency find a place veterans who need such services but don’t qualify for nursing home care. But a VA representative testified that the agency would need more time and resources to implement the program. 

In its letter to House and Senate leadership as well as Veternas’s Affairs Committee leaders, the coalition called the proposed pilot program an “economically sound and sensible approach to demonstrate the benefits” of assisted living, and that the bill gives the VA the authority to offer additional options in its long-term care programs.

“It provides VA the critical flexibility to address the needs of a rapidly growing population of aging or disabled veterans who are not able to live at home, and future cost savings will help more veterans receive the assistance they need,” the letter read. “The timing is right for such action given what we know about aging and the increasing demand for supportive services.”

Pointing to statistics from a 2020 VA report, the authors noted that the number of veterans eligible for nursing home care will increase 535% over the next 20 years. The letter also noted that costs to the VA for nursing home care alone are not sustainable and that assisted living offers “significant cost savings” for those who don’t require a high level of medical care.

Additional signers of the letter were the AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, DAV, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the National Association of State Veterans Homes, the National Rural Health Association and Paralyzed Veterans of America.

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