Senators want caregiver benefits phased in for older veterans By Tom Philpott, Special to Stars and Stripes

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A showpiece of the Veterans First package that the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee unveiled last week is a multibillion-dollar initiative to phase in for older generations of severely injured veterans robust caregiver benefits first enacted in 2010 only for the post-9/11 generation.
Though it’s only part of a huge omnibus bill containing many veteran reform measures that senators previously introduced as separate bills, the plan to expand caregiver benefit coverage carries the biggest price tag. The early estimate is $3.1 billion over its first five years.
For in-home caregivers of thousands of vets with severe physical or mental injuries, it would mean cash stipends for their time and effort, health insurance if caregivers have none, guaranteed periods of paid respite to avoid caregiver burnout and training to enhance patient safety.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., prime architect of the caregiver expansion plan, negotiated with Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., the committee chairman, to secure a modified plan that