Sen. Moran Introduces Legislation to Improve Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
Creates Parity in Evaluation Process of Veterans Living with Mental Health Condition or Brain Injury
Apr 05 2022
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (Kan.) – ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) – today introduced legislation to improve the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) by creating fair and commonsense processes for evaluating and assessing veterans, who are dependent on a caregiver.
The Reinforcing Enhanced Support through Promoting Equity for Caregivers Today (RESPECT) Act would amend the PCAFC to make certain mental health professionals and neurological specialists participate in the evaluation and assessment process for veterans. Additionally, this bill would create an assessment waiver process for caregivers of veterans with chronic or degenerative conditions. The RESPECT Act would also make certain caregivers have access to valuable mental health resources in the community through the federal grant-making process.
“Our nation’s veterans, who require a caregiver because of a mental health condition or brain injury, deserve an evaluation and assessment process equivalent to veterans that have suffered physical health conditions,” said. Sen. Moran. “Receiving input from a veteran’s previous health care providers and providing access to a thorough history of a veteran’s treatment, will help the VA more quickly provide timely resources to our caregivers on the frontline.”
The Reinforcing Enhanced Support through Promoting Equity for Caregivers Today (RESPECT) Act would:
- Amend the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) to explicitly include program eligibility criteria specific to mental health conditions.
- Expand the look back period for document review in certain cases from six months to three years to ensure VA has an adequate picture of an eligible veteran’s mental health or neurological condition.
- Require VA to include qualified mental health professionals and neurological specialists in the evaluation, review and assessment process.
- Require VA to create a process and requirements for treating clinicians to properly document certain mental health episodes when eligible veterans present at VA medical facilities and to ensure such documentation is shared with the PCAFC.
- Create a mental health treatment module via a federal grant making provision which will give caregivers the option to seek mental health care in the community setting.
- Require VA to take non-department documents and medical records into account when determining eligibility.
- Require VA to consult with treating providers to determine an appropriate time limit for active veteran participation during any give 24-hour period within the assessment process.
- Clarify portions of the assessment and evaluation process that solely require caregiver participation can be conducted without requiring the veteran to be present.
- Create a “duty to assist” similar to the VBA duty to assist and requires VA to make a good faith effort to assist the veteran in obtaining supporting documents within and outside of VA.
- Create an assessment waiver in instances where a participating veteran’s serious injury is due to a chronic or degenerative condition and there is a high probability that the veteran’s dependency on personal services will not diminish.