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Vets worried about new nursing-home fee

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ATLANTA — Military veterans living in state-run nursing homes are worried about Georgia’s plans to begin charging them.

A May 7 memo from Georgia Commissioner of Veterans Service Pete Wheeler alarmed the residents of the State War Veterans’ Homes in Augusta and Milledgeville in which he explains legislation Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law the week before. The law requires the Veterans Service Board to set a fee for nursing-home services, something the state has always provided to patients at no cost.

The bipartisan bill was sponsored by the chairmen of the House veterans and appropriations committees and passed overwhelmingly with only 13 “no” votes in the House and none in the Senate.

One of the sponsors was Rep. John Yates, R-Griffin, who at 90 years old is the only remaining World War II veteran serving in the General Assembly and an ardent champion of his fellow warriors.

Wheeler says in his memo that the fee wasn’t his idea.

“While this department did not advocate for, or request this law, we have been charged with implementing it, and we have started the process to do so,” he wrote.

The reason for the fee is to collect money the federal government distributes to individual veterans to cover the cost of care. Since Georgia is the only state that doesn’t levy a fee, the veterans have been pocketing the roughly $23 daily payment.

Wheeler said the state plans to set the fee equal to the federal payment, meaning the veterans still get a bargain compared with the $200 daily charge at private nursing homes.

With tight budgets in recent years, the state will use the federal money to expand the number of veterans receiving care, according to Wheeler.

The board votes in the fall to set the fee which will go into effect sometime later.

Several of the nursing-home residents have brought their concerns to the media, asking to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution.

Veterans groups aren’t sympathetic.

Wayne Hagan, state adjutant of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said the residents pocketing the federal payments for years are fleecing taxpayers for not reimbursing the state for its services as Congress intended.

“I’m a supporter of veterans. I’m not a supporter of cheaters,” he said.

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toenail
5
Points
toenail 05/15/12 - 03:28 am
1
0
GA Government should be ashamed

Most patients do not pocket anything. Over half worked all their lives after serving this country and do not qualify for the $23 per day. However ALL will be required to pay. Most States gave the returning soldiers a Cash bonus when they returned from fighting World War 2. GA kept the cash bonus promising the soldiers FREE care at the Nursing homes located in Augusta and Milledgeville. Now that the Soldiers are over 80 years old and can't fend for themselves, the government just changed their mind. GA State Government should be ashamed of themselves for treating our heroes in this manner. This fee is nothing more than an additional Tax and revenue generating scheme being levied against residents of the Georgia War Veterans Homes who fought for our country. Every member of our Armed Services should be appalled.

Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 05/16/12 - 10:13 pm
1
0
Dogs and Soldiers, keep of

Dogs and Soldiers, keep of the grass.

When peace breaks out or the draft is dismantled, respect for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and the Coast Guard lose the respect of politicians whose only idea of service is self serving.

Shame indeed.

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