Thursday, February 19, 2009

NY senator pushes VA to pay nursing home costs for severely disabled vets

From Newsday:

Speaking to a cheering group of veterans at a Stony Brook nursing home, Sen. Charles Schumer (pictured) on Feb. 17 excoriated the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to implement a two-year-old Congressional mandate requiring it to pay for severely disabled veterans living in nursing homes.

Schumer said at least six patients at Long Island State Veterans Home have been forced to pay some or all of their care out of pocket. They include Omaha Beach survivor Julian Oleaga, 88, whose family has paid more than $90,000 since he was admitted last August for leg and back injuries that have left him unable to walk.

"Congress did its part; it's the VA that is holding the money," Oleaga said. "Of course that's not right."

The accusation confronts a VA already staggering under a growing burden of severely injured veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan in need of long-term care because of amputations, brain injuries or other trauma.

VA officials could not be immediately reached for comment. However, the agency has reportedly said they have not implemented the law because it is still being reviewed by the federal Office of Management and Budget.