WASHINGTON — Senator Tim Kaine cosponsored a bill to improve the Department of Veterans Affairs caregiver program.
The legislation, Transparency and Effective Accountability Measures (TEAM) for Veteran Caregivers Act, was introduced by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Gary Peters (D-MI).
Kaine said there are several steps to improve the VA's program. The bill suggests the following:
- Ensuring all caregivers are included in the veterans’ medical records. Currently, only certain caregivers participating in the Caregiver Support Program are included in veterans’ medical records. Including all caregivers in medical records strengthens communication between VA and caregivers and recognizes them as part of the clinical team.
- Establishing a minimum standard of information in downgrade notification letters. This bill would require VA to provide additional context and explanation leading to downgrade or termination decisions. Caregivers have reported that their decision letters are sometimes missing important information that would be necessary to file an appeal.
- Extending benefits for at least 90 days after a termination letter is sent for cases where a veteran is deemed “no longer clinically eligible” for the program. Caregivers have reported being dropped within a couple weeks of receiving a termination letter and have no time to appeal or make new accommodations. This codifies the VA’s goals of maintaining care.
“Caregivers play a vital role in the lives of veterans who are injured, disabled, or suffering from other chronic conditions. I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort to help ensure that our veterans are receiving the support they need after their service to our country and that their caregivers are also being supported for their important work,” Kaine said.
View the legislation below: