Assemblyman Heath Flora (R-Ripon) on Feb. 10 introduced AB 2128, which would establish the Medical Foster Home (MFH) pilot program. This program would allow the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) to establish medical foster homes in California as an alternative to institutionalized care for veterans.
The bill is jointly authored by Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) who represents a region that is home to the Palo Alto VA hospital where many veterans who live outside the Bay Area travel to receive care.
“Last year we introduced this same bill as AB 550 and it passed both chambers of the Legislature with no opposition,” said Flora. “Unfortunately, the California state agency responsible for coordinating with the USDVA was able to work behind-the-scenes to convince the Governor’s office to veto the bill with their commitment to develop an alternative.”
The state of California is home to 1.8 million U.S. military veterans; more than any other state in the country. Many of those receive high-quality care at the VA medical facility in Palo Alto, but veterans like the ones living in Assemblyman Flora’s district – the Central Valley – must travel long distances to access this care.
MFHs are a proven model of home-based care, which provide assisted living care for eligible veterans, many of whom are often elderly or medically frail. The program isn’t a new idea or a high-risk plan. MFH programs are currently running successfully and safely in 44 other states and territories as reported by CBS News.
The program utilizes an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, aides and staff provided by the Veteran Health Administration (VHA). This program works alongside volunteer families and individuals who open their homes to care for these veterans. Many of the nation’s veterans have PTSD and do not handle institutionalized environments like wards, hospitals or hospice well. MFHs provide a place where veterans feel like people, not a statistic or a patient number.
“Californians across this state are ready and honored to take care of these American heroes in their own homes,” said Flora. “Let’s give them the opportunity.”
Flora represents the 12th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Denair, Empire, Escalon, Farmington, Hickman, Hughson, Keyes, Lathrop, Linden, Lockeford, Manteca, Modesto, Oakdale, Ripon, Riverbank, Salida, Turlock, Victor, and Waterford.