(Washington, DC) – In a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) today urged the agency to allow 23 Connecticut veterans residing in various state rest homes to stay in their current facilities at the VA’s expense until the agency can determine suitable options for their future care. As a result of an error by the VA, the veterans were erroneously placed in rest homes in 2007, even though these facilities are not authorized VA placements for veterans in need of full-time medical care. The letter urges the VA to take no further action until the housing needs of the veterans are assessed. Since many of the veterans were previously homeless, the letter urges the VA to determine their eligibility for additional VA care and housing services. Text of the letter is attached and below:
October 16, 2013
The Honorable Eric Shinseki
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20420
Dear Secretary Shinseki:
We are writing to urge your immediate action to rescind the October 11, 2013 notice to certain veterans in Connecticut residing in Seacrest Retirement Home in West Haven, Mattatuck Health Care in Waterbury, and Highvue Manor in Hamden and to ensure that the 23 Connecticut veterans who were placed in those facilities by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will remain in facilities that allow them to receive necessary physical and mental health care.
Recently, the VA announced that – due to an error by VA staff – these veterans were erroneously placed in these facilities in 2007 for health services that were paid by the VA. The veterans were placed in these rest homes because they could no longer remain in their homes while receiving home care or other community based services. The VA issued notice on October 11, 2013 that it will no longer pay for such services. Commendably, the VA has acknowledged that compensation will not be pursued from the veterans for the services that have already received – an obvious concession because the error was due to the VA’s mistakes.
Public reports indicate that many, if not all, of these veterans have no resources to pay for their present homes. Some have been homeless, and all may potentially become so now.
We write to urge that the VA take no further action until all veterans are assessed as to whether there is additional assistance to provide housing, including the option of transferring to a VA-contracted nursing care facility if eligible. An immediate assessment should be made of their present living arrangement to determine whether some accommodation would make them eligible for further care. We also request that you provide our offices with documentation both concerning the 2006 decision to assign these veterans to the rest homes and the current determination that these homes do not meet the standards of community residential care as required by 38 U.S.C. §1730.
This matter is of the utmost importance to us, and we urge you to keep us informed of the outcome of this case and the actions you will take immediately. Thank you for your prompt action on this request.
United States Senate
Christopher S. Murphy
United States Senate