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H.R. 3219 (111th): Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010


The text of the bill below is as of Jul 15, 2009 (Introduced).


I

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 3219

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

July 15, 2009

(for himself, Mr. Buyer, Ms. Corrine Brown of Florida, Mr. Stearns, Mr. Snyder, Mr. Moran of Kansas, Mr. Michaud, Mr. Brown of South Carolina, Ms. Herseth Sandlin, Mr. Miller of Florida, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Boozman, Mr. Hall of New York, Mr. Bilbray, Mrs. Halvorson, Mr. Lamborn, Mr. Perriello, Mr. Bilirakis, Mr. Teague, Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Roe of Tennessee, Mr. Donnelly of Indiana, Mr. McNerney, Mr. Space, Mr. Walz, Mr. Adler of New Jersey, Mrs. Kirkpatrick of Arizona, and Mr. Nye) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs relating to insurance and health care, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Veterans' Insurance and Health Care Improvements Act of 2009.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Title I—Matters Relating to Insurance

Sec. 101. Permanent extension of duration of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage for totally disabled veterans.

Sec. 102. Increased amount of Veterans’ Group Life Insurance.

Sec. 103. Elimination of reduction in amount of accelerated death benefit for terminally-ill persons insured under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance.

Title II—Matters Relating to Health Care

Sec. 201. Higher priority status for certain veterans who are medal of honor recipients.

Sec. 202. Provision of hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for certain Vietnam-era veterans exposed to herbicide and veterans of the Persian Gulf War.

Sec. 203. Prohibition on collection of copayments from catastrophically disabled veterans.

Sec. 204. Establishment of Director of Physician Assistant Services at Veterans Health Administration of Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sec. 205. Committee on Care of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury.

Sec. 206. Revision of certain requirements for the pilot program of enhanced contract care authority for health care needs of veterans in highly rural areas.

Title III—MATTERS RELATING TO BENEFITS

Sec. 301. Benefits for qualified World War II veterans.

I

MATTERS RELATING TO INSURANCE

101.

Permanent extension of duration of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage for totally disabled veterans

(a)

Extension

Section 1968(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1)(A), by striking clause (ii) and inserting the following new clause (ii):

(ii)

The date that is two years after the date of separation or release from such active duty or active duty for training.

; and

(2)

in paragraph (4), by striking subparagraph (B) and inserting the following new subparagraph (B):

(B)

The date that is two years after the date of separation or release from such assignment.

.

(b)

Effective date

The amendments made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to a person who is separated or released on or after June 15, 2005.

102.

Increased amount of Veterans’ Group Life Insurance

Section 1977(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1), by inserting Except as provided in paragraph (3), before Veterans’ Group Life Insurance shall be; and

(2)

by adding after paragraph (2) the following new paragraph:

(3)

Not more than once in each five-year period beginning on the date a person becomes insured under Veterans’ Group Life Insurance, such person may elect in writing to increase the amount for which the person is insured if—

(A)

the person is under the age of 60;

(B)

the increased amount is not more than $25,000; and

(C)

the amount for which the person is insured does not exceed the amount provided for under section 1967(a)(3)(A)(i) of this title.

.

103.

Elimination of reduction in amount of accelerated death benefit for terminally-ill persons insured under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance

(a)

Elimination of reduction

Section 1980(b)(1) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking reduced by and all that follows through the Secretary.

(b)

Effective date

The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to a payment of an accelerated death benefit under section 1980 of title 38, United States Code, made on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

II

MATTERS RELATING TO HEALTH CARE

201.

Higher priority status for certain veterans who are medal of honor recipients

Section 1705(a)(3) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting veterans who were awarded the medal of honor under section 3741, 6241, or 8741 of title 10 or section 491 of title 14, after Veterans who are former prisoners of war or who were awarded the Purple Heart,.

202.

Provision of hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for certain Vietnam-era veterans exposed to herbicide and veterans of the Persian Gulf War

Section 1710(e) of title 38, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (3)—

(A)

by striking subsection (a)(2)(F)— and all that follows through (C) in the case and inserting subsection (a)(2)(F) in the case of; and

(B)

by redesignating clauses (i) and (ii) of the former subparagraph (C) as subparagraphs (A) and (B) of such paragraph (3) and by moving such new subparagraphs two ems to the left; and

(2)

in paragraph (1)(C)—

(A)

by striking paragraphs (2) and (3) and inserting paragraph (2); and

(B)

by inserting after on active duty the following: between August 2, 1990, and November 11, 1998,.

203.

Prohibition on collection of copayments from catastrophically disabled veterans

(a)

In general

Subchapter III of chapter 17 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

1730A.

Prohibition on collection of copayments from catastrophically disabled veterans

Notwithstanding subsections (f) and (g) of section 1710 of this title, subsection (a) of section 1722A of this title, and any other provision of law, the Secretary may not require a veteran who is catastrophically disabled to make any copayment for the receipt of hospital care or medical services under the laws administered by the Secretary.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 1730 the following new item:

1730A. Prohibition on collection of copayments from catastrophically disabled veterans.

.

204.

Establishment of Director of Physician Assistant Services at Veterans Health Administration of Department of Veterans Affairs

(a)

In general

Section 7306(a) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking paragraph (9) and inserting the following new paragraph (9):

(9)

The Director of Physician Assistant Services, who shall serve in a full-time capacity at the Central Office of the Department and who shall be a qualified physician assistant, who shall be responsible to and report directly to the Under Secretary for Health on all matters relating to the education and training, employment, appropriate utilization, and optimal participation of physician assistants within the programs and initiatives of the Administration.

.

(b)

Deadline for implementation

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall ensure that an individual is serving as the Director of Physician Assistant Services under section 7306(a)(9) of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a), by not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

205.

Committee on Care of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury

(a)

Establishment of committee

Subchapter II of chapter 73 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 7321 the following new section:

7321A.

Committee on Care of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury

(a)

Establishment

The Secretary shall establish in the Veterans Health Administration a committee to be known as the Committee on Care of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury. The Under Secretary for Health shall appoint employees of the Department with expertise in the care of veterans with traumatic brain injury to serve on the committee.

(b)

Responsibilities of committee

The committee shall assess, and carry out a continuing assessment of, the capability of the Veterans Health Administration to meet effectively the treatment and rehabilitation needs of veterans with traumatic brain injury. In carrying out that responsibility, the committee shall—

(1)

evaluate the care provided to such veterans through the Veterans Health Administration;

(2)

identify systemwide problems in caring for such veterans in facilities of the Veterans Health Administration;

(3)

identify specific facilities within the Veterans Health Administration at which program enrichment is needed to improve treatment and rehabilitation of such veterans; and

(4)

identify model programs which the committee considers to have been successful in the treatment and rehabilitation of such veterans and which should be implemented more widely in or through facilities of the Veterans Health Administration.

(c)

Advice and recommendations

The committee shall—

(1)

advise the Under Secretary regarding the development of policies for the care and rehabilitation of veterans with traumatic brain injury; and

(2)

make recommendations to the Under Secretary—

(A)

for improving programs of care of such veterans at specific facilities and throughout the Veterans Health Administration;

(B)

for establishing special programs of education and training relevant to the care of such veterans for employees of the Veterans Health Administration;

(C)

regarding research needs and priorities relevant to the care of such veterans; and

(D)

regarding the appropriate allocation of resources for all such activities.

(d)

Annual report

Not later than June 1 of 2010, and each subsequent year, the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives a report on the implementation of this section. Each such report shall include the following for the calendar year preceding the year in which the report is submitted:

(1)

A list of the members of the committee.

(2)

The assessment of the Under Secretary for Health, after review of the initial findings of the committee, regarding the capability of the Veterans Health Administration, on a systemwide and facility-by-facility basis, to meet effectively the treatment and rehabilitation needs of veterans with traumatic brain injury.

(3)

The plans of the committee for further assessments.

(4)

The findings and recommendations made by the committee to the Under Secretary for Health and the views of the Under Secretary on such findings and recommendations.

(5)

A description of the steps taken, plans made (and a timetable for the execution of such plans), and resources to be applied toward improving the capability of the Veterans Health Administration to meet effectively the treatment and rehabilitation needs of veterans with traumatic brain injury.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 7321 the following new item:

7321A. Committee on Care of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury.

.

206.

Revision of certain requirements for the pilot program of enhanced contract care authority for health care needs of veterans in highly rural areas

Subsection (b) of section 403 of the Veterans’ Mental Health and other Care Improvements Act of 2008 (Public Law 110–387; 38 U.S.C. 1703 note) is amended to read as follows:

(b)

Covered veterans

For purposes of the pilot program under this section, a covered veteran is any veteran who—

(1)

is—

(A)

enrolled in the system of patient enrollment established under section 1705(a) of title 38, United States Code, as of the date of the commencement of the pilot program under subsection (a)(2); or

(B)

eligible for health care under section 1710(e)(3)(C) of title 38, United States Code; and

(2)

resides in a location that is—

(A)

more than 60 minutes’ driving distance, as determined by the Secretary, from the nearest Department health care facility providing primary care services, in the case of a veteran seeking such services;

(B)

more than 120 minutes’ driving distance, as determined by the Secretary, from the nearest Department health care facility providing acute hospital care, in the case of a veteran seeking such care; or

(C)

more than 240 minutes’ driving distance, as determined by the Secretary, from the nearest Department health care facility providing tertiary care, in the case of a veteran seeking such care.

.

III

MATTERS RELATING TO BENEFITS

301.

Benefits for qualified World War II veterans

(a)

Establishment of Compensation Fund

Subchapter II of chapter 5 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

533.

Qualified World War II Veterans Equity Compensation Fund

(a)

Compensation Fund

(1)

There is in the general fund of the Treasury a fund to be known as the Qualified World War II Veterans Equity Compensation Fund (in this section referred to as the compensation fund).

(2)

Subject to the availability of appropriations for such purpose, amounts in the compensation fund shall be available to the Secretary without fiscal year limitation to make payments to eligible individuals in accordance with this section.

(b)

Eligible Individuals

(1)

An eligible individual is an individual who—

(A)

during the 1-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of the Benefits for Qualified World War II Veterans Act of 2009, submits to the Secretary an application containing such information and assurances as the Secretary may require;

(B)

has not received benefits under the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (Public Law 78–346); and

(C)

has engaged in qualified service.

(2)

For purposes of paragraph (1), a person has engaged in qualified service if the service of the person has been determined to have been active duty service pursuant to section 1401 of the GI Bill Improvement Act of 1977 (38 U.S.C. 106 note).

(c)

Amount of Payments

The Secretary shall make a monthly payment out of the compensation fund in the amount of $1,000 to an eligible individual. The Secretary shall make such payments to eligible individuals in the order in which the Secretary receives the applications of the eligible individuals.

(d)

Authorization of Appropriations

(1)

There are authorized to be appropriated to the compensation fund amounts as follows:

(A)

For fiscal year 2010, $222,000,000.

(B)

For fiscal year 2011, $193,000,000.

(C)

For fiscal year 2012, $170,000,000.

(D)

For fiscal year 2013, $146,000,000.

(E)

For fiscal year 2014, $124,000,000.

(2)

Funds appropriated to carry out this section shall remain available until expended.

(e)

Reports

The Secretary shall include, in documents submitted to Congress by the Secretary in support of the President’s budget for each fiscal year, detailed information on the operation of the compensation fund, including the number of applicants, the number of eligible individuals receiving benefits, the amounts paid out of the compensation fund, the administration of the compensation fund, and an estimate of the amounts necessary to fully fund the compensation fund for that fiscal year and each of the three subsequent fiscal years.

(f)

Regulations

The Secretary shall prescribe regulations to carry out this section.

.

(b)

Regulations

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall prescribe the regulations required under section 532(f) of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a).

(c)

Clerical Amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item related to section 532 the following new item:

533. Qualified World War II Veterans Equity Compensation Fund.

.