March 27, 2018

Hirono Highlights Recently Passed Bill to Expand Veterans’ Long Term Care Coverage in Visit to Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home

Bill’s Passage May Result in Continuation of Adult Day Health Care Services on Hawaii Island

Senator Mazie K. Hirono met with staff and residents at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo to discuss the impact that her recently passed legislation, the State Veterans Home Adult Day Health Care Improvement Act, will have on the facility’s ability to continue adult day health care services for service-connected severely disabled veterans.

“The Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home adult day health care program provides comprehensive services from medical care to recreational activities for veterans,” Senator Hirono said. “The passage of the State Veterans Home Adult Day Health Care Improvement Act will provide for greater reimbursement through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs so this program can continue as part of a range of health care options for Hawaii veterans and their families.”

“We’d like to thank Senator Mazie K. Hirono for her ongoing support for our nation’s veterans and for sponsoring the Hirono/Hatch Bill, S.324 that will ensure that severely disabled veterans, rated 70% or more service connected disabled, are able to receive adult day health care in state veterans homes at no cost to them,” Ferlita Acob, RN, Avalon Hawaii Regional Nurse Consultant said. “The enactment of this bill will allow our Adult Day Health Care Program to grow and become a more financially viable long term care option for our veteran community.”

The Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home is one of a few state veterans homes across the country that offers adult day health care services, which allow veterans in need of care to live in their own homes while receiving comprehensive medical, nursing, and personal care services. Before the passage of Senator Hirono’s bill, the Okutsu State Veterans Home decided to discontinue the adult day health care program because of the reimbursement through the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) did not sufficiently cover program costs. In 2017, the program operated at an annual loss of $160,000. With the passage the State Veterans Home Adult Day Health Care Improvement Act, the facility is reevaluating their decision.

The VA currently covers about one-third of the cost of adult day health care for eligible veterans at state veterans homes. The remaining expense of the program is paid for by the facility or directly by veterans and their families, which significantly limits the number of veterans who can enroll. 

The State Veterans Home Adult Day Health Care Improvement Act, which Senator Hirono cosponsored with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), passed the Senate earlier this month, and addresses this problem by defining adult day health care programs as a fully reimbursable treatment option for severely disabled veterans. The legislation is currently awaiting signature into law by the President.