Sullivan & Hassan Seek to Strengthen “LINC” Between VA and Community Services for Veterans
Legislation aims to break down silos, integrate the work of the VA and social service providers
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) have introduced the Leveraging Integrated Networks in Communities through the VA to Address Social Needs (LINC VA) Act. This legislation enables the coordination of public and private social service resources with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, prioritizing connections with already existing, community-specific organizations to better coordinate the work of health care and social service providers, and improve the health and well-being of America’s veterans.
The senators’ bill would enable the VA to leverage local expertise through public-private partnerships that connect veterans with community resources, such as food, housing, child care, job training and transportation—services that invariably impact a person’s health care outcomes. The goal of the legislation is to connect veterans with community providers so that every veteran is made aware of the resources that are available to them in the community, ensuring a seamless transition from immediate needs to long-term recovery and support for systemic issues. The bill also requires the VA to identify which needs are being met in the community and which needs are not being adequately met. This will allow Congress to be more informed in targeting future funding efforts.
“Alaska has more veterans per capita than any other state in the country,” said Sen. Sullivan. “We also have a rich history of leading health care innovation. We were the first state to implement ‘wraparound services’ on a statewide level, and also the first state to successfully implement a 1332 waiver under the Affordable Care Act. Now, many states have followed suit. With this legislation, Senator Hassan and I are endeavoring to bring this spirit of innovation and community empowerment to our nation’s veterans, helping states bridge the gap between siloed, non-integrated care services and the resources that already exist in our communities—services that could meaningfully improve the health of our veterans with a focus on personalized, holistic care. The LINC VA Act presents an opportunity to create more efficient and effective wellness networks that can meet the unique needs and circumstances of Alaska veterans and veterans nationwide. Veterans deserve this investment in their health—both physical and social.”
“Service members returning home can face a number of challenges, and it is imperative that we connect them with resources available to ease their transition to civilian life,” said Sen. Hassan. “This bipartisan bill will help ensure that when veterans go to the VA for health care, providers can coordinate with and connect veterans to additional services in the area like transportation, job training, and housing programs. I will continue working across the aisle to support New Hampshire’s service members and their families.”
The LINC VA Act would:
- Direct the VA to carry out a pilot program establishing community integration network infrastructure to connect veterans with local resources. Among others, these resources include:
- Nutritional assistance
- Health care
- Job training
- Child care
- Disability services
- Ensure that every veteran has awareness of the resources that are available to them in their community.
- Require at least one VA facility in each of the 18 Veteran Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) to carry out a system of integrated care, with a specific emphasis on under-resourced, rural communities.
- Utilize risk assessment and screening tools to collect social determinants of health data to quantify veteran health needs.
- Cultivate data to determine what resources communities have and where their networks are lacking. This data can inform future congressional investment.
- Direct the Comptroller General to evaluate the success of the networks, along with recommendations, in a report to Congress within four years of the pilot program.
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