Millennium Veterans Act Beefs Up Long-term Care
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2000 Veterans will be entitled to improved long- term care and other benefits thanks to a new law signed by President Clinton in November.
The comprehensive Veterans Millennium Health Care and Benefit Act directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve access to long-term care for disabled veterans. It also provides veterans with other health care benefits, new veterans' cemeteries and educational benefits.
VA will also examine innovative ways to provide nursing home care and ways to help families. Specifically VA will provide geriatric evaluation, nursing home care -- either in VA facilities or in community-based facilities, home care services, adult day health care, noninstitutional alternatives to nursing home care and respite care.
The new law includes provisions that:
- Extend the housing loan program for members of the reserve components who serve at least six years to 2007. The current program expires in 2003.
- Permit veterans to use their Montgomery GI Bill money to pay for preparatory courses such as those readying students to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test or the Graduate Record Exam.
- Authorize VA to pay reasonable emergency care costs for veterans who receive their medical care from VA.
- Authorize VA to provide care to TRICARE-eligible military retirees and Purple Heart recipients.
- Direct VA to examine the creation of six new national veterans' cemeteries. While not specifying where the new cemeteries should be, the law urges VA to closely examine such "underserved" areas as Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma City, and Sacramento, Calif.
- Add bronchiolo-alveolar carcinoma, a rare form of lung cancer not associated with tobacco use, to the list of service-connected diseases for Atomic veterans.
- Authorize the American Battle Monuments Commission to borrow $65 million from the U.S. Treasury to begin construction of the World War II Memorial in November 2000.