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Panel OKs updating veterans law to ensure adult day program's standing

A tweak to a state law that would solidify the right of the Department of Veterans Affairs to operate adult day centers has received committee approval.

On Wednesday, the House Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee voted 11-0 to approve HF88, which would ensure the legality of a long-established adult day center at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Minneapolis.

Sponsored by Rep. Todd Lippert (DFL-Northfield), the bill, which now heads to the House floor, would also explicitly allow fees to be collected from participants and for the program to accept federal funding.

The companion, SF93, is sponsored by Sen. Andrew Lang (R-Olivia) and awaits action by the full Senate.

For years, the Minneapolis adult day center has provided veterans with meals and social, recreational, therapeutic and health care services on weekdays.

The VA is allowed under state law to develop alternative care programs but feels the need to have "explicit statutory authority" to operate the adult day program, Lippert said.

He said adult day program supports physical, mental and social well-being and provide respite for caregivers.

Ben Johnson, legislative director for the Veterans Affairs Department, said the number of veterans enrolled in the program, which reopened for in-person programming Feb. 1, varies week to week.

Thirty have been enrolled in a virtual program during pandemic.

There are no plans to expand the program to the four other veterans' homes run by the department.

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