By: Leo Shane III
WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin insists a limited expansion of his department’s caregivers stipend program could save the federal government around $2.5 billion annually.
But the up front costs of the plan still present a major obstacle for congressional lawmakers.
On Tuesday, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee renewed debate on the issue of VA’s caregiver program, which awards living stipends — totaling up to several thousands of dollars a month — to the families of veterans who require around-the-clock home care.
When lawmakers created the program in 2011, it only covered veterans of the post-Sept. 11 era. For much of the last year, Shulkin has advocated (along with veterans groups) that the program should include other generations of veterans as well, especially as they age and require new medical care.
“When the (program) launched, it was the first of its kind and incredibly innovative,” Shulkin said at the hearing. “It is critical that we continue to move forward and support the program in a well-thought-out and deliberate fashion.”