The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) today offered a statement for the record to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, which is holding a hearing Wednesday afternoon into the exploitation of seniors who apply for veterans pension benefits administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). On Wednesday morning, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report outlining problems with the VA pension program that allow for it to become a marketing tool to sell inappropriate financial instruments to elderly veterans.
“ALFA members, primarily operators of senior living communities, are honored to care for elderly veterans and appreciate the opportunity to work with the Senate and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to prevent financial exploitation of our nation’s veterans,” wrote Richard P. Grimes, president and CEO of ALFA in a prepared statement for the committee hearing.
“It is our view that if a financial advisor to a veteran in any way misleads a veteran and misrepresents the Aid and Attendance program to his or her advantage at the expense of the veteran, it is an insidious form of elder abuse. It should not be tolerated and those responsible should be sanctioned to the full extent of the law.
“The VA Aid and Attendance program is a critical benefit for veterans who do not have resources to help pay for necessary long term services and supports offered in an assisted living community. Thus, since 2007, ALFA has worked directly with VA to help educate senior living providers and the residents and families they serve about the variety of programs and services available for veterans and their surviving spouses.
“The VA Aid and Attendance Program helps expand the choices available to senior veterans and their families when they need long term services and supports for themselves or a loved one and do not want, nor need, the level of care offered in more expensive, institutional forms of care such as skilled nursing,” Grimes wrote.
In the testimony, Grimes outlined recommendations to reduce the risk of exploitation of seniors by unscrupulous financial advisors or others. They included:
– Setting clear eligibility standards for the VA benefit.
– Requiring a look back period on veterans finances similar to a process used by Medicaid.
– Developing an easy to follow consumer guide.
– Creating guidelines for those closely serving seniors, such as operators of senior living communities.
– Developing a list of best practices to supplement the guidelines.
– Simplifying a very complex application and application process for benefits and as a result reducing the time it takes to process claims as well as the need for seniors and their families to seek out assistance to apply.
– Granting VA and veterans service organization access to more resources to help seniors and their families apply for the benefit.
“We continue to believe the best public policy in the area of long term care is guided by the principles of accessibility, choice, dignity, independence and quality of life for seniors. The recommendations provided by ALFA both champion these principles and create new possibilities for business, consumers and government to work together,” Grimes closed.
Interested parties may read the complete ALFA Statement for the Record and find other resources by visiting www.alfa.org/hearings .
The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) is the largest national association exclusively dedicated to professionally-managed, resident-centered senior living communities and the seniors and families they serve. Since 1990, ALFA has advocated for choice, accessibility, independence, dignity, and quality of life for all seniors. ALFA’s programs promote business and operational excellence through education, research, publications, professional networking and online tools designed to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of senior living. Visit ALFA’s Web site.
The Senior Living staff at The Fountains of West County understand your families care needs and are here to help. We provide senior living in St Louis, West County, Ballwin, Ellisville, Chesterfield and the surrounding areas. Call The Fountains of West County today for more information and a tour. 636-779-2600.