HOUSE COMMITTEE ON

 VETERANS' AFFAIRS

 

 

February 15, 2005   Hearing Room C

8:30 A.M.  Tapes 23 - 24

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:            Rep. Donna Nelson, Chair

Rep. Phil Barnhart, Vice-Chair

Rep. Debi Farr, Vice-Chair

Rep. Brian Boquist

Rep. Scott Bruun

Rep. Dave Hunt

Rep. Betty Komp

 

STAFF PRESENT:                  Jim Stembridge, Committee Administrator

Erin Seiler, Committee Assistant

 

MEASURES/ISSUES HEARD:        

                                                Public Testimony - Informational Meeting

                                                Veterans’ Issues - Informational Meeting

                                                           

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

TAPE 23, A

001

Chair Nelson

Opens the meeting at 8:36 a.m. Opens an informational meeting for public testimony.

PUBLIC TESTIMONY - INFORMATIONAL MEETING

029

Katie Harris

County Veterans’ Service Officer, Columbia County. Explains role of a Veterans’ Service Officer. Discusses the responsibilities of a County Veterans’ Service Officers (CVSO) and the nature of assistance that CVSO provide to veterans.

049

Chair Nelson

Asks how much revenue Columbia County receives in Medicaid match dollars and why the county will not be receiving match dollars after July 2005.

054

Harris

Explains that Medicaid guidelines have restricted the services that qualify as outreach.

063

Harris

Explains how much is spent per veteran and the net fiscal benefit to Columbia County.

084

Cathy Joeckel

Citizen, Columbia County. Praises the CVSO from Columbia County for all done on behalf of the Joeckel Family.  

113

Chair Nelson

Asks how the Columbia County Veterans’ Office defines veteran.

115

Harris

Explains how the definition varies depending upon a series of mitigating factors.  

160

Harris

Explains the qualifications for receiving Veterans’ Administration (VA) pension benefits.

173

Katherine Chakos

Citizen, Columbia County. Praises the CVSO from Columbia County for all done on behalf of the Chakos Family. 

216

Brad Parker

Disability Specialist, Columbia County. Expresses support for the work of Harris and the Columbia County Veterans’ Service Office and states the need for more funding for the office.

266

Parker

Explains the work he does on behalf of veterans and how his position is funded.

300

Frank Eckrode

Veteran, Yamhill County. Testifies about the need to remove the Federal Concurrent Receipt Law.

335

Eckrode

States his appreciation for the formation of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

345

Chair Nelson

Comments on the hard work of CVSO on behalf of all veterans.

375

Chair Nelson

Closes the informational meeting for public testimony. Opens an informational meeting on Veterans’ Issues.

VETERANS’ ISSUES - INFORMATIONAL MEETING

380

Cindy Becker

Deputy Director, Department of Human Services (DHS). Explains what the Public Assistance Reporting Information System (PARIS), its function, and how DHS uses it to assist veterans.

TAPE 24, A

049

Becker

Discusses the problems DHS is experiencing in accessing veterans’ record recovered through PARIS. Identifying the primary problem as the inability to access records from the Department of Defense.

086

Chair Nelson

Ask if Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits or if food stamps are considered income.

090

Becker

Explains that TANF and food stamps are not considered income, but DHS does review whatever an income individual does receive and that the appliqués income is offset against the amount of benefits received.  

110

Becker

States that purpose of using PARIS is cost avoidance and that doing these matches will not result in “veterans getting thrown off of Medicaid….thrown out of long-term care”; rather DHS will apply income towards benefits.

129

Chair Nelson

Asks what DHS does if a PARIS match indicates that a veteran on Medicaid is entitled to VA benefits.

138

Becker

Explains the difference between DHS and CVSO.

180

James Tate

Assistant Director for Seniors and Disabilities, DHS. Explains why CVSO outreach will no longer be considered eligible for Medicaid matching funds.

208

Chair Nelson

Asks at what point VA benefits exceed the benefits received from Medicaid.

212

Tate

Explains Medicaid eligibility qualifications. 

313

Rep. Hunt

Asks whether DHS has adequate statutory authority and staff resources to investigate and recover dollars.

340

Becker

Explains the DHS Program Integrity Fraud Protection Program and that DHS does have sufficient legal authority to investigate, recover dollars, and continue cost avoidance activities.

359

Becker

Addresses the fact that DHS is not trying to “do anyone harm, but want to be sure that we are operating with the best information about assets that someone might have.”

377

Chair Nelson

Expresses concern that the work of DHS is being done in the best interest of the veteran and their family.

390

Chair Nelson

Asks who has the authority to move a veteran from a nursing home, if it is determined that the veteran qualifies for VA and Medicaid benefits.

TAPE 23, B

001

Becker

Clarifies that DHS does not remove people because of amount of benefits they receive, a veterans’ benefits are applied to the cost of care where they are living.

010

Tate

Acknowledges how there are circumstances when a veteran has received VA benefits above the Medicaid cap and the Medicaid benefits are discontinued, but an individual is not moved from a nursing home, a veteran would purchase care services as part of a private pay arrangement.

020

Becker

States that Medicaid does not differentiate for veterans and that DHS has to follow the Medicaid statutes and if a veteran has assets, those assets have to be applied.

033

Chair Nelson

Verifies the income standard DHS uses to determine Medicaid eligibility.

036

Rep. Farr

Explains why it is important to understand how VA benefits are applied to assisted living, nursing care, and foster homes.

051

Tate

Agrees that it is “conceivable” to have a person with VA benefits above the Medicaid cap and “whatever setting their in the private pay would not match to be in that setting.” 

056

Tate

Cites efforts of DHS to get veterans living at Oregon Veterans’ Home in The Dalles both Medicaid and VA benefits.

060

Becker

Clarifies that “it is not an either or situation” because there are many veterans who are eligible for Medicaid and do get some VA benefits.

070

Chair Nelson

Speaks to concern about having benefits for returning Iraqi soldiers, in particular mental health benefits.

082

Becker

Explains that DHS does have mental health services for those who are eligible.

126

Chair Nelson

Asks if there are any exceptions for getting benefits for veterans in “the time of war ….don’t we have any exceptions anywhere.”

130

Becker

Points out that DHS has to follow Medicaid guidelines and that becoming too expansive jeopardizes the billion dollars in funding that DHS receives to each year.  

145

Rep. Barnhart

Verifies that any integration between VA benefits and other types of benefits is accidental.

151

Becker

Restates that veterans are not treated differently then anybody else.

155

Rep. Barnhart

Verifies that the “holes” in benefits is a result of federal policy decisions and it is the responsibility of the federal government to fill in the “holes.”

173

Chair Nelson

Asks if DHS has any money to assist CVSO.

178

Becker

Identifies what impact the Governor’s proposed budget cuts would have on the services provided by DHS.

185

Rep. Boquist

Asks what the criteria is for physical-need based Medicaid benefits and at what level on the impairment continuum do Medicaid cease.

214

Tate

Speaks to the efforts of Oregon to transcend many of the federal constraints in the Medicaid program.

231

Rep. Barnhart

Addresses the long-term needs of deployed soldiers and asks if DHS has sufficient resources to identify those soldiers who are in need of services.

264

Becker

Explains the long-term ability of DHS to adapt and provide services to a growing number of Oregon’s population.

309

Rep. Barnhart

Discusses why the state has an interest in identifying veterans eligible for VA benefits.

325

Rep. Farr

Asks if there is an accurate account of the number of veterans receiving benefits from DHS.

334

Tate

States that DHS only has data on the number of veterans that are in long-term care.

355

Chair Nelson

Asks how many veterans utilize Oregon Project Independence.

373

Jacqueline Zimmer

Director, Oregon Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Disabilities. States that that information will be provided at a later date.

380

Chair Nelson

Asks how the cost of at-home assisted living care compares to nursing home care.

390

Zimmer

Speaks to the level of service provided by Oregon Project Independence, the cuts to their budget, and associated administrative costs.  

TAPE 24, B

029

Chair Nelson

Asks if having a family member provide at-home care is more economical then a nursing home placement. 

034

Tate

Explains that DHS does use Medicaid funds to compensate an individual, other than a spouse, to care for a person.

049

Zimmer

Discusses the limitations on the Spousal-Pay Care Program and the elimination of the Relative Foster Care Program from the Governors’ budget.

070

Rep. Farr

Verifies the cost of paying a relative to provide at-home care versus the cost of a nursing care facility.

104

Becker

Explains that all services that are alternatives to nursing home care are part of a Home and Community Based Federal Waiver.

113

Zimmer

Points out that budget cuts have led to the elimination of long-term cares services to a number of tiers on the DHS level of impairment continuum.

131

Chair Nelson

Asks how much funding DHS has lost in Medicaid dollars.  

142

Becker

Explains how much money DHS receives in matching dollars and the subsequent loss in dollars in the next biennium.

177

Rep. Boquist

Addresses the important role and function of CVSO.

220

Tate

Confirms that DHS reviews all assets and resources of an individual when verifying Medicaid eligibility.

229

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administer. Submits Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA) information packet that includes Metlife Market Survey of Nursing Home and Home Care Costs, Oregon Veterans’ Home Resident Private Pay Rates and Profile of Payer Sources, Oregon Veterans’ Home Primary Revenue Sources pie chart, Oregon Veterans’ Home Resident Mix pie chart, and 2005-2007 ODVA Requested Policy Package (EXHIBIT A).

267

Chair Nelson

Close the informational meeting on Veterans’ Issues. Adjourns the meeting at 10:17 a.m.

 

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

  1. Veterans’ Issues, information packet, staff, 27 pp