A New Approach to California’s Veterans Homes

Report237_VeteransHomes

Report #237, March 2017

OVERVIEW

In this report, the Commission calls for greater self-sufficiency in the state’s veterans homes program and less reliance on the General Fund to free up resources to serve more California veterans, particularly those incapable of caring for their own health.

During its review of the state’s eight-home system, the Commission found unnecessarily high costs to California taxpayers compared to other states and also determined that fewer than 1 percent of the state’s 1.7 million veterans benefit from the 2,610-bed program run by the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet).

The Commission recommends changes in state law to prioritize beds for those who most need the care, as well as intelligently revising residential-only services in the home to focus on skilled nursing care. Those currently living in residential-only housing should be allowed to stay in the veterans home program as the state gradually moves away from this service. The Commission also recommends changing state law to require that residents tap all available resources to help pay for their care, including enrollment in state and federal benefit programs and maintaining health insurance coverage throughout their stay in the homes. Finally, the Commission recommends CalVet consider whether it should modify the program, including closing or repurposing facilities, along with more cost-effective alternatives to its homes, such as home and community-based programs for aged and disabled veterans.   

This review was requested by Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin in a July 13, 2015, request letter to the Commission.

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