Reps. Lee, Biggs Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Secure Benefits, Support for Veteran Family Caregivers

April 21, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — U.S Rep. Susie Lee (Nev.-03) helped introduce the TEAM Veteran Caregiver Act, led by Rep. Andy Biggs (Ariz.-05). This legislation takes three steps to increase efficiency, transparency, and accountability in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) family caregivers program:  

First, it will formally recognize all caregivers of veterans by identifying them in the health records of the veteran; Second, it will require the VA to include specific information when notifying veterans and caregivers regarding any clinical determinations made relating to the downgrade or termination of family caregivers benefits; Third, it will extend the family caregivers program benefits for 90 days when a veteran is no longer clinically eligible for the program, with exclusions to protect against fraud and abuse.

“Thousands of veterans receive lifesaving care from family caregivers,” said Rep Lee. “These veteran families deserve to have every resource they need to lead dignified and independent lives,” said Rep. Lee. “For too long, family caregivers have been arbitrarily cut from the Family Caregiver Program with little to no explanation. This is inexcusable; more than anyone else, these families need transparency. This bill requires VA to provide specific information when downgrading or terminating family caregiver benefits. This will lead to families being able to appeal more easily and promote accountability for the program management. Especially during a public health crisis, veterans and their families need to be certain that they can receive the health benefits that they need, and quite frankly, they earned.”  

“Family caregivers assume enormous responsibilities by caring for our wounded veterans, including many who are among our most vulnerable population. Unfortunately, they frequently face unnecessary bureaucracy that only makes their efforts more difficult. This legislation is a small step in the right direction to streamline the VA’s family caregiver program. I look forward to working with my colleagues, veteran advocates, and the administration to pass this bill and ensure our veterans and their caregivers get the service that they deserve.” – Congressman Andy Biggs (Ariz.-05)   

"The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is proud to support Congressman Biggs and the introduction of the TEAM Act in the House of Representatives. This bill will provide huge benefits to America's military caregivers, which include official designation in their veterans' records and expanded benefits to those who have been removed from the program. We are pleased to see these issues and many others at the forefront of this bill and encourage others to join us in supporting this critical legislation." – Steve Schwab, CEO, Elizabeth Dole Foundation 

“In far too many instances, policies and procedures of the VA Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers has resulted in the untimely disruption or termination of needed benefits for our nation’s veterans and their caregivers. DAV has long advocated for improvements to this program, and is proud to support the TEAM Veteran Caregivers Act in order to provide clear standards of communicating VA’s decisions, provide smoother transitions along the program’s continuum of care for beneficiaries, and fully incorporate family caregivers within the veteran’s care team. We are grateful to the bill’s cosponsors for their commitment to disabled veterans and to the nation’s unsung heroes, their family caregivers.” – Joy Ilem, National Legislative Director, Disabled American Veterans  

"Paralyzed Veterans of America applauds the introduction of the "Transparency and Effective Accountability Measures for Veteran Caregivers Act’’ or the ‘‘TEAM Veteran Caregivers Act.’’ For far too long, VA has operated the family caregiver program in a manner that has led to veterans being inappropriately dropped from the program without any recourse. We believe this legislation is a step in the right direction, and will ensure veterans are afforded their due process rights. We appreciate the leadership of Rep. Biggs in advocating for these protections for our most significantly disabled veterans." Heather Ansley, Paralyzed Veterans of America 

BACKGROUND: The legislation is endorsed by Disabled American Veterans, Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and Paralyzed Veterans of America.