June 25, 2018

Senate Passes Cassidy-Jones Legislation to Improve Veteran Nursing Home Care

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and Doug Jones (D-AL), members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released the following statements today after the Senate passed their legislation requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to publish the quality ratings of its 133 nursing homes nationwide, including all internal metrics and criteria used in determining the ratings. The legislation passed as an amendment to the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (H.R. 5895).

“Our veterans deserve the best care in all stages of life. For years, the VA has kept the quality data of their nursing homes a secret,” said Dr. Cassidy. “While I’m glad the VA recently took steps to address this, we need full transparency so we can hold the VA accountable and provide our veterans with the best nursing home care possible.”

“Our veterans and their loved ones have given a great deal in service to our country, which is why I was so appalled by reports of very poor ratings and the unwillingness of the VA to be more transparent with this important data,” said Senator Jones. “Having every available piece of information is critical to veterans and their families as they determine where they will live and receive care, during what is unquestionably the most vulnerable stage of their lives. I am confident that this report will help the VA provide the kind of care that our men and women who served our country deserve.”

USA Today and the Boston Globe recently reported that more than 100 VA nursing homes, including its facility in Pineville, Louisiana, “scored worse than private nursing homes on a majority of key quality indicators, which include rates of infection and decline in daily living skills, according to the analysis of data withheld by the VA from public view.”

The amendment is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dean Heller (R-NV), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Bill Nelson (D-FL), John Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NV), and Todd Young (R-IN).

Other provisions benefiting Louisiana in H.R. 5895 include:

  • $6.927 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, a $100 million increase over Fiscal Year 2018, to maintain flood control projects, provide navigation maintenance for rivers and harbors, and ensure the viability of national and regional ports and waterways.
  • $20 million for the Army Corps of Engineers construction budget, to continue construction of projects including improvements to rainfall districts that address flood damages. Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control is one of the few projects eligible to compete for these federal dollars.
  • $15 million for Natural Gas Vehicle Research and Development, to address technical barriers to the increased use of natural gas vehicles, including the development of novel compression and liquefaction technologies, advanced materials, and improvements in processes for conditioning, storing and dispensing natural gas.
  • $25 million for the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), which promotes the growth of a skilled workforce, supports job creation, and invests in local and regional infrastructure in the Delta region. Of this funding, $10 million will be used for flood control, basic infrastructure development and transportation improvements, in addition to the state formula funding allocations.