Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today highlighted several provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that benefit veterans.
The CARES Act – a bipartisan coronavirus response package –delivered robust resources to hospitals, health care systems, states and local governments, along with additional economic relief for American workers and small businesses. It also provided considerable resources to the VA health care system and to programs that support veterans housing.
“Congress moved swiftly to address the coronavirus crisis by delivering critical resources and support to American workers, families, small businesses, nonprofits and health care systems, including resources to boost the quality and safety of veterans’ health care and housing,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “The CARES Act will help improve the resiliency of the VA health care system and ensure that it has the resources it needs to provide effective treatment and fight the virus. The bill will also allow veterans to continue accessing VA health care services by expanding the use of telehealth technology. Importantly, the bill will boost investments in state-run Veterans Homes and support programs that reduce veteran homelessness.”
Key veterans-focused provisions of the CARES Act include:
- Enhancing VA Health System Capabilities: The CARES Act delivers $17.2 billion to the Veterans Health Administration to hire new staff and access critical medical resources to help manage the evolving needs of the pandemic, such as adding beds and purchasing ventilators, pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment.
- Expanding Telehealth: The CARES Act allows the VA to enter into short-term agreements with telecommunications companies to deliver free or subsidized mental health services through a telehealth connection or through the VA’s Video Connect service. It also ensures that veterans participating in the HUD-VA Supportive Housing program (HUD-VASH) have access to telehealth equipment.
- Combatting Homelessness: The CARES Act increases the amount of support to organizations that aid homeless veterans. It also gives veteran borrowers the right to loan forbearance upon request and protectes against foreclosures, evictions and adverse credit reporting.
- Supporting State Veterans Homes: To encourage social distancing and help protect veterans, especially older veterans, the CARES waives a requirement that State Veterans Homes must maintain a 90 percent occupancy rate in order to receive federal benefits. In addition, the bill allows State Veterans Homes to admit more spouses of Veterans and Gold Star parents. It also allocates $150 million for emergency State Veterans Home construction.