ARCHIVED — Vol. 146, No. 22 — October 24, 2012
SOR/2012-221 October 5, 2012
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS ACT
Regulations Amending the Veterans Health Care Regulations
P.C. 2012-1333 October 4, 2012
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, pursuant to section 5 (see footnote a) of the Department of Veterans Affairs Act (see footnote b), hereby makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Veterans Health Care Regulations.
REGULATIONS AMENDING THE VETERANS HEALTH CARE REGULATIONS
1. Section 34.1 of the Veterans Health Care Regulations (see footnote 1) is amended by adding the following after subsection (6):
(7) This section does not apply to a claim in respect of the services referred to in subparagraph 19(a)(iii) or (v). Payment shall be made for those services only in respect of periods during which a person is eligible to receive those services.
2. Section 34.1 of the Veterans Health Care Regulations, as it read immediately before the day on which these Regulations come into force, continues to apply in respect of any contribution arrangement for the provision of the services referred to in subparagraph 19(a)(iii) or (v) of those Regulations that was entered into before that day.
COMING INTO FORCE
3. These Regulations come into force on January 1, 2013.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) undertook a review of its operations and programs to ensure that they were as efficient as possible and effectively meeting the needs of veterans and their families.
The Veterans Health Care Regulations (VHCRs) authorize VAC to provide home-care services (which include housekeeping and grounds maintenance) to eligible veterans, civilians, primary caregivers, and survivors through the Veterans Independence Program (VIP). The program is delivered through a model known as a contribution arrangement. Under the existing contribution arrangements, VIP clients receiving housekeeping and/or grounds maintenance must obtain, track and submit receipts in order to be reimbursed. This is cumbersome for the recipients and for VAC, which deals with millions of reimbursement transactions.
The amendments to the VHCRs respond to the Government’s commitment to return to a balanced budget and support the Government’s direction — which VAC has endorsed — to cut red tape while maintaining strong support for veterans and their families.
The main objective of this proposed regulatory amendment is to reduce the administrative burden on 96 000 VAC clients who currently track expenses and submit multiple claims for VIP housekeeping and grounds maintenance services. In order to achieve this objective, this regulatory package proposes the following changes to the VHCRs:
- Exclude housekeeping and grounds maintenance payments from section 34.1 of the VHCRs so that these are no longer eligible to be paid through reimbursement of submitted receipts;
- Ensure that payments made to individuals for these services are only for periods in which individuals maintain ongoing eligibility; and
- Ensure that any housekeeping and grounds maintenance expenses incurred under a contribution arrangement that expires after the coming into force of the amended VHCRs can be paid through reimbursement of submitted receipts.
This regulatory amendment will change the contribution model for the VIP housekeeping and grounds maintenance services to a grant model.
This proposal will simplify the way veterans, civilians, primary caregivers, and survivors receive their payments for two popular VIP services — housekeeping and grounds maintenance. Under this proposal, clients eligible for housekeeping and grounds maintenance services will receive a yearly grant disbursed twice a year. All other VIP services will continue to be provided through a contribution arrangement.
In situations where clients’ needs or circumstances change throughout the year, they may come back to VAC for a reassessment of their needs. In these situations, changes to services or amounts may be paid to clients to meet their assessed health needs up to the maximum amounts, as outlined in section 20 of the VHCRs.
This proposal will only change the payment mechanism for VIP housekeeping and grounds maintenance from a contribution arrangement to a grant — all other components of VIP (i.e. eligibility requirements and processes, services, financial and frequency limits) will remain the same.
Veterans’ advocates and stakeholder groups have, for many years, raised their displeasure with the fact that veterans receiving VIP services are required to pay “out of pocket” for the expenses and then submit for reimbursement. They have been pushing for ways to address this issue and it is expected they will be supportive of these regulatory amendments to eliminate the administrative burden for clients receiving housekeeping and grounds maintenance services.
Initial reaction from stakeholders has generally been positive and pleased with the announcement that the proposed change eliminates the administrative burden for clients receiving housekeeping and grounds maintenance services.
Veterans Affairs Canada will communicate changes to the payment process for these services using a proactive approach. The Minister announced the proposed change on April 3, 2012, and emphasized that this change will reduce the administrative burden for approximately 96 000 veterans and survivors receiving these benefits. One-on-one calls were held during April 2012 with 11 national veterans’ organizations, 4 chairs of VAC’s former advisory committees and the Veterans’ Ombudsman concerning the proposed change in payment mechanism. An article was published in VAC’s Salute! print publication which was released in July 2012. These initiatives are followed by letters to current VIP recipients, meetings with stakeholders, and information profiled on VAC’s Web site and other relevant sites (Department of National Defence, Service Canada, Legion, etc.).
Veterans Affairs Canada will continue to have briefings with key veterans’ organizations and stakeholders to demonstrate the Government’s commitment to improving the benefits and services for Canadian Forces veterans and their families.
The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this proposal, as there is no change in administrative costs to business.
Small business lens
This regulatory proposal does not increase or decrease administrative burden or compliance costs on small businesses.
This proposal will simplify the administration of the popular housekeeping and grounds maintenance components of VIP by introducing annual grants to replace the existing contribution arrangements for these two services. This change will eliminate millions of transactions each year to process contribution payments. Most importantly, this change will remove a significant administrative burden for more than 96 000 veterans, civilians, primary caregivers and survivors who must currently obtain, track and submit receipts for their housekeeping and grounds maintenance services.
Under this proposal, eligible clients will receive an annual grant, paid in two installments. This will result in VIP clients no longer having to submit receipts for housekeeping and grounds maintenance services, simplifying the way recipients receive payments for these services. As well, providing this support has a positive impact on the health and safety of clients, given that income plays a role in determining someone’s physical and mental health, quality of housing, nutrition and other aspects of their well-being. Additionally, assisting these individuals to stay in their homes, rather than enter a long-term care facility, further contributes to clients’ health and quality of life.
Simplifying and streamlining the current contribution model for VIP housekeeping and grounds maintenance to a grant model will not increase administrative burden or costs on those small business providers who previously submitted reimbursement requests directly to VAC on behalf of the veteran. Under a grant payment, the provider would receive reimbursement directly from the veteran.
Veterans’ organizations will see the benefits associated with the Regulations as positive for veterans, who will continue to receive the support they need with much less administrative burden. For other Canadians and stakeholder groups, the benefits associated with this proposal would be the feeling of support for veterans and their families.
Lastly, no new additional costs to Government would be associated with these regulatory changes.
Implementation, enforcement and service standards
The Regulations will come into force on January 1, 2013. Clients will continue with the current practice for VIP housekeeping and grounds maintenance claims until the expiry date of their existing contribution arrangement, at which time they will be assessed to determine the amount of the grant for VIP housekeeping and grounds maintenance they will receive.
A Performance Measurement Plan (PMP) has been established for VIP to support performance measurement and reporting by ensuring that operational data reports are accurately capturing and portraying the performance results of the program. The PMP will support the regular monitoring of program performance to ensure that the program is meeting the needs of eligible veterans and other program participants.
In addition, VAC’s Audit and Evaluation Division conducts annual audits and evaluations of VAC programs. Results are published on VAC’s Web site regularly.
Service standards currently exist for VIP and are available on the Department’s Web site (www.vac-acc.gc.ca). A review process is also in place to review VIP standards annually.
Strategic Policy Integration
Policy and Research Division
Veterans Affairs Canada
161 Grafton Street
Daniel J. MacDonald Building, Room 436
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
S.C. 2011, c. 24, s. 180
R.S., c. V-1; S.C. 2000, c. 34, par. 95(a)