H. R. 5526
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 4, 2008
Mr. Fortuño (for himself and Mr. Serrano) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish the Task Force on Medical Facility Improvements in Puerto Rico, and for other purposes.
Congress makes the following findings:
Residents of Puerto Rico have served with honor and distinction in the Armed Forces of the United States in every major war and conflict the Nation has fought since 1917.
Puerto Rico consistently ranks alongside the top five States in per capita military service.
Numerous residents of Puerto Rico have won the Bronze Star with valor device, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Distinguished Service Medal.
Four residents of Puerto Rico have received the Medal of Honor, the highest award given for valor on the battlefield.
18,000 residents of Puerto Rico served in World War I.
65,000 residents of Puerto Rico served in World War II, including 200 Puerto Rican women.
61,000 residents of Puerto Rico served in the Korean War, during which the 65th Infantry Regiment, comprised mostly of Puerto Rican soldiers and known as the Borinqueneers, particularly distinguished itself for bravery.
48,000 residents of Puerto Rico served in Vietnam, with 430 killed and over 3,000 wounded.
2,600 residents of Puerto Rico were mobilized for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
3,400 residents of Puerto Rico have served, and over 230 have been killed or wounded, in the Nation’s current war on terrorism, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Residents of Puerto Rico have always proudly answered the call to defend this nation and to sacrifice for the cause of liberty, notwithstanding the fact that they cannot vote for their commander-in-chief.
In section 821 of the Veterans Benefits,
Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 (Public Law 109–461; 120
Stat. 3448), Congress expressed its sense that the need for medical facility
improvements in San Juan, Puerto Rico was not being adequately addressed and
directed the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to
take steps to explore all
options for addressing that concern, including the option of a public/private
partnership to construct and operate a facility that would replace the current
Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in San Juan, Puerto
Congress directed the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit a report to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives “identifying and outlining the various options available to the Department” for retrofitting and renovating or replacing the current Veterans Affairs medical center in San Juan.
On June 26, 2007,
the Department of Veterans Affairs submitted its
Report to Congress on
Options for Medical Facility Improvements in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in
which it identified and outlined four potential options available to the
Department for medical facility improvements in Puerto Rico and analyzed the
medical, legal, and financial implications associated with each option.
In that report, the Department of Veterans Affairs affirmed that medical facility improvements in Puerto Rico would support the Department’s strategic goals, including improving the quality of life for veterans with disabilities, ensuring a smooth transition for veterans from active military service to civilian life, and improving the health and socioeconomic well-being of veterans.
In that report,
the Department also stated that upgrades to the existing medical facility in
San Juan were
necessary to ensure the long-term safety of patients and
Task Force on Medical Facility Improvements in Puerto Rico
Not later than 60 days after the date of
the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall establish a
task force to be known as the Task Force on Medical Facility Improvements in
Puerto Rico (hereinafter in this section referred to as the
The members of the Task Force shall be appointed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and shall include—
appropriate employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs;
appropriate representatives of veterans’ organizations based in Puerto Rico; and
appropriate representatives of the government of Puerto Rico.
Number; terms of service; pay and allowances
The Secretary shall determine the number, terms of service, and pay and allowances of members of the Task Force appointed by the Secretary.
The Task Force shall—
consider options to renovate or replace the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Puerto Rico, including—
the four options outlined in the report of
the Department of Veterans Affairs entitled
Report to Congress on
Options for Medical Facility Improvements in San Juan, Puerto Rico
submitted pursuant to section 821 of the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and
Information Technology Act of 2006 (Public Law 109–461; 120 Stat. 3448);
any option not specifically discussed in such report that the Task Force determines is appropriate for consideration, especially any such option involving a public-private partnership to renovate or replace the hospital; and
make recommendations to the Secretary with respect to which of the options considered under paragraph (1) should be implemented.
Upon the request of the Task Force, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs may enter into a contract with an appropriate entity to assist the Task Force in carrying out its responsibilities under this section.
Stakeholder interests and concerns
In carrying out the responsibilities under this section, the Task Force shall ensure that the full range of stakeholder interests and concerns are considered.
Report to Secretary
Not later than 180 days after the date on which the Task Force is established under subsection (a), the Task Force shall submit to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs a report containing the findings and recommendations of the Task Force under subsection (c).
Report to Congress
Not later than 60 days after receiving the report under paragraph (1), the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to Congress such report together with any recommendations of the Secretary.
The Task Force shall terminate 30 days after the Secretary submits the report under subsection (f)(2).