Call to Action: Remove Restrictive Eligibility on the Veteran Caregiver Program (PCAFC)

Call to Action: Remove Restrictive Eligibility on the Veteran Caregiver Program (PCAFC)

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Veteran Warriors, Inc. started this petition to Congressional Officials and Department of Veterans Affairs and

Veterans and Caregivers across the nation need your help as thousands of veterans are being denied access to care and services that are vital to their everyday functions and life as a direct result of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ decision to restrict the eligibility of the program that provided these services to veterans in need of assistance due to injury or illness, the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC).  Published July 31, 2020, and implemented October 1, 2020, the new regulation has proven to have harmful effects from denials and discharges.  The rule can and should be rescinded immediately to avoid further anguish on an already strained community.

PCAFC was a pilot program created under the 2010 Public Law 111-163, “Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Acts”, to provide benefits and support to family caregivers of Post 9/11 veterans.  In 2011, VA issued the Interim Rule for program operations and established the program across the nation; PCAFC quickly proved to meet a critical need. After identifying some issues, VA published the Final Rule on January 9, 2015, it was the Interim Rule with clarification.  On June 6, 2019, after years of advocacy to expand PCAFC eligibility, MISSION Act was signed into law, but VA failed to meet the IT certification deadline causing the further delay of pre-9/11 veterans' eligibility.  As the statute stated PCAFC was to expand eligibility, the Final Rule remained in effect until VA implemented a new restrictive Rule on October 1, 2020.

VA attempted restrictions prior to MISSION Act, each time Congress responded in written comments restriction is not Congress’ intent. Congresswoman Brownley voiced concerns during the House Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing (2/06/2018), that VA “may attempt to justify cuts or changes to the program at the expense of our most vulnerable veterans rather than working to improve and expand the program.”  VA ignored Congress; and published the proposed rules on March 6, 2020.  Over 200 comments were submitted from the community, VSOs, and Congress, all urging VA to reconsider the rule, voicing concerns, and identifying significant harm to the veteran community. VA ignored these concerns and the new Final Rule was codified as Federal Regulation on July 31, 2020, ahead of long-awaited Vietnam and earlier veterans eligibility on October 1, 2020.

VA’s new rule has shaken the community by creating dismay and chaos with no end in sight as veterans feel the grave effects of the rule from all directions:
·       For Post 9/11 veterans the program is the scaffolding of survival.
·       For WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam Veterans the program was hope that quickly faded with declined applications and denied appeals.
·       For Gulf War veterans the program is still out of reach and continues to cause concern related to VA delaying eligibility again.

Hundreds of thousands are affected by denied applications, these include Post 9/11, Vietnam, Korean War, and WWII veterans. Thousands are experiencing significant stress after notification of discharge, these include Post 9/11, Vietnam, Korean War, and WWII veterans.  Thousands more will feel the damaging effects in the coming months as VA continues reassessments of the 33,000 participants, roughly 19,000 are Post 9/11 veterans with significant impairments that have been in the program for years.  Completed reassessment data shows a discharge rate of 88-90% with an upward trend as more are reassessed.  Statistically, those remaining after reassessment are seeing the adverse effect of VA determining a lower level of care is needed.  Without change prior to their October 1, 2022, eligibility, Gulf War veterans are at substantial risk of denial because the rules are so restrictive that it is now easier to qualify for a nursing home than for the PCAFC.

While not a requirement of the 2010 Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Acts that created the program or the MISSION Act of 2018 that expanded the program, PCAFC regulation has restricted access to veterans living abroad no matter the era served.  Some Post 9/11 veterans have applied and been told they are not allowed, some pushed for a denial letter and received the letter.  Veterans living abroad use the Foreign Medical Program (FMP), this program allows for bowel and bladder caregiver services for veterans with spinal cord injury, but VA insists it is not feasible to provide caregiver services to those who do not fit that criteria.  There were about 55,500 veterans registered in the Foreign Medical Program, according to VA, only about 4,500 were active users of the program in fiscal 2020.  

Veterans need your help to plead with VA to rescind the regulation restrictions or with Congress to intervene and protect the rights of these veterans. Veterans are all looking to neighbors, friends, family, advocates, VA leaders, and Congress to ensure PCAFC fulfills President Lincoln's promise“To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.”

The veteran caregiver community needs:
1- PCAFC to continue expansion based on the January 9, 2015, Final Rule eligibility criteria;
2- expand the program to veterans who served between May 8, 1975, and September 11, 2001, without further delay;
3- all tactics to restrict the program cease immediately, including falsification of veteran needs;
4- the Secretary to issue a moratorium to show good faith to the veteran caregiver community.  The moratorium should prevent status changes of current participants and include a clause to ensure Gulf War-era veterans will not experience further eligibility delay.
5- services provided to veterans living abroad. 



For a bullet point list of the systemic issues veterans and caregivers are facing as a direct result of VA's new restrictive regulation compared to the MISSION Act requirements, see PCAFC Restrictive Regulation Criteria and Processes vs. MISSION Act of 2018 Requirements

 

 

We also have a pre-drafted letter for everyone who wants to send a letter of support to Congress, simply click the link, enter your name and address, and hit send, it will automatically send to your Senator and Congressperson based on your address.  This letter is the letter that is attached to the petition that will go to Congress. **Anyone can sign the petition and send a letter, you do not have to be a veteran or affected by the change.

For veterans and caregivers - please complete this survey, the data helps us to show Congress the harmful effects of the program's new regulation is. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!