Connecticut senators urge VA not to force 23 veterans out of rest homes

Connecticut’s senators Wednesday urged the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to reconsider its order to kick 23 veterans out of rest homes in Hamden, West Haven and Waterbury, where they have been living for 12 years.

The department notified the veterans last week that it would no longer pay for their nursing home care as of Dec. 31 because the department isn’t authorized to provide that level of care.

The 23 affected veterans live in Highview Manor in Hamden, Seacrest Retirement Home in West Haven and Mattatuck Health Care in Waterbury.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy wrote to U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to urge him to allow the veterans to stay in their nursing homes.

“They assured me that there will be no imminent action,” Blumenthal said. “I am going to be meeting with them in the next days and to visit one of the homes. We’re working through both the legal requirements and the practical human issue.”

The department said it is not authorized to provide “rest home level of care” for veterans who need full-time nursing care. Instead, they may be placed only in “skilled nursing facilities.”

Though the veterans have been living at the homes since 2001, the department just discovered the mistake in an audit in January. Department officials said the problem is unrelated to the government shutdown.

Because it was the VA’s error, the department will not try to recover the unauthorized payments made on behalf of the veterans, the department said in a news release.

VA social workers will work with the veterans to help them relocate to a skilled VA-contracted nursing home at VA expense — or remain at their current facility or in another residence at their own expense.

Neither Blumenthal nor Connecticut VA spokeswoman Pamela Redman could say how much the government has paid per year to keep the veterans in these rest homes since 2001. Blumenthal said it may, in fact, be less expensive to keep the veterans where they are than to move them to skilled nursing facilities.

“We want to see what can be done to provide the best benefits to the veterans at the least cost to taxpayers,” he said.

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