Collins also supports effort to increase troop pay
As the nation prepares to honor the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our county this Memorial Day, Congressman Chris Collins has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to ensure all veterans get the end-of-life care they need and deserve. Collins has introduced the Care for our Heroes Act (HR 4725), which mandates all veterans are eligible for VA hospice care when they need it.
Current statute does not require the VA to cover hospice care for veterans who had not enrolled in the VA system in the past for prior care, or do not fit the family income and asset brackets identified by the VA. The current VA hospice directives are subjective to each individual VA facility and interpreted differently by different caseworkers. Working with concerned veteran advocates, Collins drafted the Care for our Heroes Act to make all veterans eligible for VA hospice care.
"This gap in VA coverage was brought to my attention during one of my veterans advisory meetings this spring," Collins said. "It was a shock to learn that some of our veterans who have given so much to this country were not allowed to receive VA hospice care at the end of their lives. Our veterans deserve so much better. With the complex bureaucracy of the VA, the Care for our Heroes Act will ensure that we have straight-forward rules to protect those who served when it comes to hospice care."
Collins' bill has been referred the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
Also this week, Collins voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act and the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Act of 2014 (HR 4031). The NDAA funds America's military operations both at home and abroad for fiscal year 2015. The legislation includes a pay increase for troops, blocks National Guard reductions, and includes bipartisan reforms aimed at preventing sexual assaults in the military.
Sponsored by Republicans and Democrats alike, HR 4031 gives the VA secretary greater authority to remove employees from service due to poor performance and mandates such a termination be reported to Congress. This bill will benefit the millions of veterans who depend on the VA, the taxpayers who fund these programs, and the VA employees whom Collins said deserve the best and most accountable senior leaders possible.
The legislation has received wide support from leading veterans' organizations around the country.