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Congressman Ryan Costello

Representing the 6th District of Pennsylvania

Rep. Costello Attends Bipartisan Press Conference with Veterans Service Organizations in Support of Expanding Caregiver Access

December 7, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) yesterday joined Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Veterans Service Organizations to call for the expansion of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. The program provides certain benefits for caregivers, who must be 18 years of age and can be a family member, a friend, or someone who lives with the veteran full time. Currently, veterans who were injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001 are able to receive complete caregiver benefits under the program, such as travel expenses, access to healthcare insurance, mental health services, and respite care. The press conference was to applaud the passage of caregiver legislation in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and call for an expansion of the program to veterans of all service eras.

In Pennsylvania, this expansion is important because the veteran population is aging. In 2015, during a town hall in Spring City, Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District, Rep. Costello heard concerns from constituents about access to the caregiver program. That same year, Rep. Costello joined with Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) to introduce the CARE for All Veterans Act, legislation that would expand access to this program to all service eras, and the legislation was reintroduced this year.

“Caregivers are true partners in the delivery of healthcare to veterans, and they deserve quality support. It is time that we expand this program to veterans of all generations,” said Rep. Costello during the press conference.

Rep. Costello’s remarks can be watched here. A transcript is available below.

Rep. Costello’s Full Remarks as Delivered at the Press Conference

Thank you very much. First, let’s applaud the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee for passing this piece of legislation. Now, that’s a big deal. It’s substantive but it also raises the dial and creates more awareness, and becomes an action item not just for the Senate as a whole, but also for the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

I’m pleased to support expanding access to the caregiver program. It has helped so many veterans and their families. No matter their service area, veterans have made tremendous sacrifices and deserve access to the care they need.

We all know that caregivers play a critical role in providing this care, and they should be able to rely on benefits – benefits such as travel expenses and access to healthcare insurance – from the Department of Veterans Affairs, just as some caregivers are already able to access.

As we know, currently, if you are a veteran who was injured after September 11, 2001, you are able to receive benefits under the program. They should continue to receive these benefits, but we should also begin to expand access in the caregiver program to veterans of other service eras.

I have heard this, as I’m sure all my colleagues have, from constituents in our respective states as the veteran population in every state, my state and all others, is aging, and problems – healthcare ailments – become more acute as you age.

Caregivers are true partners in the delivery of healthcare to veterans, and they deserve quality support. It is time, it is time that we expand this program to veterans of all generations.

In the House, and I want to point someone out who is not here – Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, who has been a champion, who has stepped up right from the beginning, who could not be here but who introduced legislation that would expand access to the current VA caregiver support program to pre-September 11 veterans and their caregivers.

I am pleased to be here with my colleagues to support this effort. I would like to thank the Disabled American Veterans and all of the Veterans Service Organizations who are here today to encourage support for expanding the program.