Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin insists a limited expansion of his department’s caregivers stipend program could save the federal government around $2.5 billion annually - but the up front costs of the plan still present a major obstacle for congressional lawmakers.
On Tuesday, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee renewed debate on the issue of VA’s caregiver program, which awards living stipends — totaling up to several thousands of dollars a month — to the families of veterans who require around-the-clock home care. Some have framed the expansion as another opportunity for "choice" in veterans medical care, an echo of the president’s promises to give veterans more flexibility in private-sector care options.
And veterans groups framed the debate as one of basic fairness, calling the cut off date for eligibility in the program arbitrary and unfair.
"It is unconscionable to tell veterans that only some of them will be helped," said Sarah Dean, associate legislative director at Paralyzed Veterans of America, adding that "Congress continues to find excuses to deny access."
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