HOUSE COMMITTEE ON

 VETERANS' AFFAIRS

 

March 10, 2005   Hearing Room C

8:30 A.M. Tapes 30 – 31 & 37

Corrected 10/17/05

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:

                                                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 30,  A

004

Chair Nelson

Calls the meeting to order at 8:36 a.m. Opens the informational meeting on Veterans’ Issues.

VETERANS’ ISSUES – INFORMATIONAL MEETING

032

Paula Brown

Deputy Director, Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs (ODVA). States that the purpose of appearance is to discuss statistics relative to compensation and pension benefits received by Oregon veterans.  

046

Val Conley

Administrator of Veterans’ Services Divisions, ODVA. Submits United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs Compensation and Pension Statistics Report (EXHIBIT A). Explains the 2004 Per Capita Compensation and Pension Dollars State Ranking chart (EXHIBIT A, Page 1).

064

Chair Nelson

Asks if the chart reflects the per month pension a veteran receives.

066

Conley

Confirms that the chart reflects the average pension per month per veteran in each state.

081

Chair Nelson

Confirms that compensation and pension benefits are equivalent regardless of what military conflict that the individual served in.

083

Conley

Explains how the laws pertaining to benefits have evolved over time because each conflict results in different types of disabilities.

093

Rep. Boquist

Asks what distinguishes compensation benefits from pension benefits.

100

Conley

Explains the difference between compensation benefits and pension benefits.

108

Rep. Boquist

Asks if pension benefits are only based on a income-formula or if military rank is considered.

111

Conley

Clarifies that military rank is not a consideration when determining pension benefits.

127

Chair Nelson

Addresses the “horrific” practice of veterans’ disability benefits being offset by military retirement income.

134

Conley

Speaks to the federal governments’ practice of “double-dipping,” which is when a veteran’s compensation for a service connected disability is offset by military retirement income.

161

Brown

Cites a hypothetical situation of how the practice of “double-dipping” works. 

173

Rep. Boquist

Comments on the failure of the federal government to correct this problem.

191

Rep. Barnhart

Comments on the amount and depth of analysis of compensation and pension data, hypothesizing on the possible reasons for the different amounts of benefits from each state.

208

Conley

Suspects that the difference in benefits between states is related to service delivery.

225

Rep. Farr

Asks if some of the states with a lower payout have a higher income threshold.

230

Conley

States that the income threshold is the same for all states.

249

Conley

Explains the rankings of Oregon Counties based on Per Capita Compensation and Pension Rates chart (EXHIBIT A, Page 2).

273

Rep. Hunt

Asks if there is a reason why there is significant inequity in compensation and pension benefits between similar counties.  

289

Conley

Suggests that the inequity is related to the level of staffing in each County Veterans Service Office.

328

Rep. Boquist

Comments on the reasons why some veterans do not seek benefits and how County Veterans Service Officers are the best resource to reach out to veterans. 

396

Conley

Explains the 2004 U.S. Per Capita Compensation and Pension map (EXHIBIT A, Page 3).

TAPE 31, A

007

Conley

Reviews spreadsheet of the National Compensation and Pension Dollars in 2004 (EXHIBIT A, Page 4).

014

Chair Nelson

Verifies that the compensation and pension benefits of Oregon veterans increased twenty-two percent from 2003-2004.

026

Brown

States that there are different statistics regarding the number of veterans’ nationally and cites the source that ODVA uses to determine the statistics for Oregon.

038

Conley

Reviews spreadsheet of Oregon Counties Compensation and Pension Dollars in 2004 (EXHIBIT A, Page 5).

062

Van Moore

Senior Vice-President of Operations, Westcare Management, Inc.

070

David Looper

Administrator, Oregon Veterans’ Home. Submits and summarizes Unintended Consequences of the Millennium Bill On Nursing Home Care Eligible Veterans report (EXHIBIT B).

174

Chair Nelson

Clarifies that the Millennium Bill requires a veteran to go to a federally contracted veteran’s nursing home in order to receive full benefits.

184

Moore

Explains how the Millennium Bill specifically allows the federal government to deny state operated veterans’ homes from having federal contracts and the subsequent effect on veterans.

217

Moore

Hypothesizes as to how and why the federal government, through the Millennium Bill, denies veterans a choice of where to receive nursing home care.

225

Rep. Barnhart

Asks if the operative issue could be repaired by establishing a private, non-profit to operate the state veterans’ nursing home.

236

Moore

Speaks to belief that the Millennium Bill is intended to prevent the problem of “double-dipping” by veterans. 

270

Staryl Austin

Advisory Committee Member, ODVA.

286

Chair Nelson

Confirms there has not been an effort, at the federal level, to defeat the Millennium Bill.

294

Austin

States that Millennium Bill must be defeated at the federal level.

310

Chair Nelson

Asks how many veterans currently reside at the Oregon Veterans’ Home and at the Evergreen Veterans’ Home.

328

Looper

Addresses the resident capacity of the Oregon Veterans’ Home and Evergreen Veterans’ Home and confirms that only federal veterans’ home is in Vancouver, Washington.

367

Chair Nelson

Asks how much the administrative and maintenance costs are for the Oregon Veterans’ Home.  

385

Looper

Speaks to the importance of continuous maintenance and improvements at the Oregon Veterans’ Home.

TAPE 30, B

010

Morgan

Addresses the difficulties of determining a dollar figure for maintenance costs and cites the best resource for getting a dollar figure is the manager of plant services at the Oregon Veterans’ Home.

031

Rep. Barnhart

Asks if the difference in rates between private facilities and federal facilities is a result of how debt service is collected and the federal governments up –front investment in the facility.

052

Morgan

Explains how federal government restrictions prevent ODVA from accruing reserves on state-operated nursing homes.

074

Rep. Barnhart

Confirms that the accounting practices instituted by the federal government prevent total reimbursement by the Oregon Veterans’ Home and the ability to impute costs in order to determine real operating costs.

106

Chair Nelson

Asks if either men have knowledge of a veteran being forced to leave the Oregon Veterans’ Home because of Medicaid versus Medicare payment issues.

113

Looper

States that the only insistence of a veteran having to leave the Oregon Veterans’ Home was because of the Millennium Bill.

127

Morgan

Cites that there is the potential for conflict with Medicaid certification because it is possible that a person may qualify for skilled nursing care in a state-veterans home under veterans’ criteria, but not qualify for skilled nursing care in a state-veterans’ home under Medicaid criteria.

155

Looper

Restates opposition to the Millennium Bill.

168

Rep. Farr

Verifies that it could potentially cost one hundred percent of a veteran’s pension to pay for a state nursing home facility.

201

Morgan

Points out that the Oregon Veterans’ Home does have volunteers to run a cantina in order to provide funds to supplement incidental expenses of residents.

219

Chair Nelson

Asks for a projection of the number of nursing home beds that will be necessary for veterans in the next decade.

222

Morgan

Addresses why there is a need to build veterans’ nursing home facilities in the population centers of Oregon.  

270

Austin

Explains why The Dalles was selected as a location for the Oregon Veterans’ Home and why future location decisions must be made based on the concentration of veteran population.

307

Bill Penhollow

Assistant Executive Director, Association of Oregon Counties (AOC). Explains the work of the County Veterans Service Program and variations in general fund budget resources for each county.

390

Chair Nelson

Asks how the funds from the Federal Forest Safety Net are distributed to each county.

395

Penhollow

Explains how funds from the Federal Forest Safety Net are distributed to each county’s general funds.

TAPE 31, B

018

Penhollow

Introduces Ralph Wyatt, Pat Brillon, Diane Clienti, and John Krawczyk.

033

Chair Nelson

Asks if it is accurate that the state only funds two-tenths of a County Veterans Service Officer.

038

Penhollow

Explains that the state allocates ten thousand dollars to each county towards the salary of a County Veterans Service Officer.

055

Chair Nelson

Asks why each county has not asked for additional funding for the County Veterans Service Officer position.  

062

Penhollow

Speaks to the numerous programs that counties provide in partnership with the state and how limited state and county fiscal resources are.

109

Chair Nelson

Asks if there is a reason why ODVA cannot serve as the administrative body for County Veterans Service Officers.

111

Ralph Wyatt

Administrative Officer, Linn County. Submits and summarizes Linn County Veterans’ Services Costs and Revenue chart (EXHIBIT C).

161

Chair Nelson

Inquires how to insure that if the state were to allocate funds to each county for the purpose of funding the position of a County Veterans’ Service Officer the money would not be spent to backfill other services.

166

John Krawczyk

Administrative Officer, Yamhill County. Speaks to the commitment of Yamhill County to supporting their County Veterans Service Officer and addresses concern that state funds would be used judiciously.

197

Rep. Hunt

Concurs that there is a need for a greater level of assurance “that not one dollar would be backfilled into other programs,” adding that “comfort level of passing those new dollars will be low” without firm commitment from counties that this will not occur.

209

Wyatt

Explains how lack of state funding has resulted in counties supplementing their County Veterans Service Program with monies from the their General Fund and it is “unreasonable” to expect counties “not to direct one dollar” to supplement other programs.

244

Rep. Barnhart

Asks if the concern is whether counties have the ability of each county to afford the costs that will accompany the expansion in the program if requests for services and assistance increase at the anticipated rate. 

260

Pat Brillon

County Veteran Service Officer, Linn County. Speaks to the increase in the active work load in the Linn County Veterans’ Service Office.

286

Rep. Barnhart

In reference to the Linn County Veterans’ Services Costs and Revenue chart, asks if the county budget can maintain the current rate of growth.

293

Wyatt

Explains how the cost and revenue figures were calculated on the chart (EXHIBIT C).

310

Rep. Boquist

States why the committee must have definitive statistics, by county, of the number of  County Veterans’ Service Officers, current budget allocations for the program, and the number of veterans.

365

Chair Nelson

Affirms why it is important to have definitive county by county statistics for County Veterans’ Service Officers.

TAPE 37, A

005

Jacqueline Zimmer

Director, Oregon Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Disabilities. Speaks to previous efforts to attain funds for County Veterans’ Service Officers.

026

Debbie Kincaid

Secretary, Oregon County Veterans Service Officer Association (OCVSOA). Submits and summarizes OCVSOA information packet which includes County Veterans Service Officer job description, Current Staffing and Funding of Oregon County Veterans Service Officers spreadsheet, and County Veterans Service Officer Bill Expense Allocations chart (EXHIBIT D).

051

Krawczyk

Confirms that each county submits a quarterly budget report to the state of the expenses and recoveries for veterans’ services and receive a reimbursement check.   

061

Rep. Komp

Verifies that there are annual audits completed to monitor expenditures and accounting revenues.

071

Kincaid

Clarifies the basis for the veteran population statistics and what compromises the other funds accounting figures (EXHIBIT D, Page 4).

092

Zimmer

Explains how the total budget proposal for County Veterans Service Officers was determined.

103

Kincaid

Speaks to why it is not possible for County Veterans Service Officers to be a part of the ODVA.

120

Kincaid

Explains why Washington County ranks lowest in per capita dollars received from United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

138

Kincaid

Discusses the information and referral services that County Veterans Service Officers provide that cannot be reflected in performance measures or accounted for in a caseload report.

168

Kincaid

Explains the Multnomah and Washington County Veterans Service Medicaid Pilot Project.

189

Chair Nelson

Explains the need for the county administrative officers to meet with County Veterans Service Officers in order to evaluate Medicaid program.

210

Zimmer

Points out the effect that the decrease in funding for health services has had on the ability to provide assistance to people with disabilities, including veterans and seniors and the that the Medicaid Pilot Program would assist in restoring the lost services.  

265

Kincaid

Explains that OCVSOA are in the process of developing accountability measures for County Veterans Service Officers.

276

Rep. Hunt

Urges OCVSOA to be aware of the dollar for dollar comparison that will occur when Ways and Means is balancing funding of veterans services and other state services.

308

Diane Clienti

County Veteran Service Officer, Yamhill County. Speaks to the role and responsibilities of a County Veterans Service Officer and the increasing demand for assistance.

396

Chair Nelson

Closes the informational meeting on Veterans’ Issues. Adjourns the meeting at 10:45 a.m.

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

  1. Veterans’ Issues, United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs Compensation and Pension Statistics Report, Val Conley, 6 pp
  2. Veterans’ Issues, Unintended Consequences of the Millennium Bill On Nursing Home Care Eligible Veterans Report, David Looper, 12 pp
  3. Veterans’ Issues, Linn County Veterans’ Services Costs and Revenue Chart, Ralph Wyatt, 1 p
  4. Veterans’ Issues, information packet, Debbie Kincaid, 5 pp