News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, Oct. 5, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Twenty-two dollars and 42 cents per day -- that's the fee veterans will have to pay come Jan. 1 to keep their places at the Georgia War Veteran Nursing Home.
The fee has some veterans and their families all riled up.
"I want to know why the veterans getting picked on again," asked one wheelchair-bound veteran.
"My name is Arlene Candy. Actually, you can call me David, because I feel like I'm going to be fighting Goliath here. You've got some problems you haven't thought out yet," Candy said.
These are a few of the strong reactions to the new fee the Georgia Assembly says veterans must pay to stay in their nursing home.
"Right now that fee is projected to be $22.42 a day," said Department of Veterans Service Assistant Commissioner Dan Holtz.
That's nearly $700 a month. This comes after a new law was passed in the last legislative session authorizing the Veterans Service Board to start charging "a reasonable fee."
"The reason they did that is because state appropriations have not been able to keep up with the cost of care at both of our homes, and they want to keep as many veterans in our homes as we can possible keep in them and continue to provide quality care for them," Holtz explained.
Until now, Georgia was the only state not making veterans pay something for their residence and care in state veterans homes.
But the changes have some people frustrated -- not so much about the cost -- but about how they can pay and how much time they have to pay.
Right now, the law states the veterans must pay the amount 10 days after they receive the invoice and no electronic payment is accepted.
"You should get your systems ready and then number one, allow electronic payment, and number two, the invoice should not be due in less than 30 days because it's unheard of in business or medical care," stated one concerned family member.
Not everybody is against the fee. For many, it's worth it to get the level of care the veterans need.
Angela Lane's brother lives at the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home, and she understands why they are implementing the fee.
"They gonna need some money to keep the place going like they want it to keep going, so $22 a day is reasonable to me, I think," Lane said.
"We are willing to pay that money, whatever they ask for, to keep him here because we can't do it ourselves," agreed sister Carolyn James.
Holtz says the funds collected will be used for the maintenance and operation of the nursing homes. If you don't pay the fee, then the veteran will be discharged.
Eligible veterans will be able to apply for a waiver.