< Back to H.R. 919 (111th Congress, 2009–2010)

Text of the Veterans’ Medical Personnel Recruitment and Retention Act of 2009

This bill was introduced on February 9, 2009, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Feb 9, 2009 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

I

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 919

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 9, 2009

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, to enhance the capacity of the Department of Veterans Affairs to recruit and retain nurses and other critical health care professionals, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Veterans’ Medical Personnel Recruitment and Retention Act of 2009.

2.

Enhancement of authorities for retention of medical professionals

(a)

Secretarial authority To extend title 38 status to additional positions

(1)

In general

Paragraph (3) of section 7401 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking and blind rehabilitation outpatient specialists. and inserting the following: “blind rehabilitation outpatient specialists, and such other classes of health care occupations as the Secretary considers necessary for the recruitment and retention needs of the Department subject to the following requirements:

(A)

Not later than 45 days before the Secretary appoints any personnel for a class of health care occupations that is not specifically listed in this paragraph, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives, and the Office of Management and Budget notice of such appointment.

(B)

Before submitting notice under subparagraph (A), the Secretary shall solicit comments from any labor organization representing employees in such class and include such comments in such notice.

.

(2)

Appointment of nurse assistants

Such paragraph is further amended by inserting nurse assistants, after licensed practical or vocational nurses,.

(b)

Probationary periods for nurses

Section 7403(b) of such title is amended—

(1)

in paragraph (1), by striking Appointments and inserting Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, appointments;

(2)

by redesignating paragraph (2) as paragraph (4); and

(3)

by inserting after paragraph (1) the following new paragraphs:

(2)

An appointment of a nurse under this chapter, whether on a full-time basis or a part-time basis, shall be for a probationary period ending upon the completion by the person so appointed of 4,180 hours of work pursuant to such appointment.

(3)

An appointment described in subsection (a) on a part-time basis of a person who has previously served on a full-time basis for the probationary period for the position concerned shall be without a probationary period.

.

(c)

Prohibition on temporary part-time nurse appointments in excess of 4,180 hours

Section 7405(f)(2) of such title is amended by inserting after year the following: , except that a part-time appointment of a nurse shall be for a period that does not exceed 4,180 hours.

(d)

Waiver of offset from pay for certain reemployed annuitants

(1)

In general

Section 7405 of such title is amended by adding at the end the following:

(g)
(1)

The Secretary may waive the application of sections 8344 and 8468 of title 5 (relating to annuities and pay on reemployment) or any other similar provision of law under a Government retirement system on a case-by-case basis for an annuitant reemployed on a temporary basis under the authority of subsection (a) in a position described under paragraph (1) of that subsection.

(2)

An annuitant for whom a waiver under paragraph (1) is in effect shall not be considered an employee for purposes of any Government retirement system.

(3)

An annuitant for whom a waiver under paragraph (1) is in effect shall be subject to the provisions of chapter 71 of title 5 (including all labor authority and labor representative collective bargaining agreements) applicable to the position to which appointed.

(4)

In this subsection:

(A)

The term annuitant means an annuitant under a Government retirement system.

(B)

The term employee has the meaning under section 2105 of title 5.

(C)

The term Government retirement system means a retirement system established by law for employees of the Government of the United States.

.

(2)

Effective date

The amendment made by paragraph (1) shall take effect on the date that is six months after the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply to pay periods beginning on or after such effective date.

(e)

Minimum rate of basic pay for appointees to the Office of the Under Secretary for Health set to lowest rate of basic pay payable for a Senior Executive Service position

(1)

In general

Section 7404(a) of such title is amended—

(A)

by striking The annual and inserting (1) The annual;

(B)

by striking The pay and inserting the following:

(2)

The pay

;

(C)

by striking under the preceding sentence and inserting under paragraph (1); and

(D)

by adding at the end the following:

(3)

The minimum rate of basic pay for a position to which an Executive order applies under paragraph (1) and is not described by paragraph (2) may not be less than the lowest rate of basic pay payable for a Senior Executive Service position under section 5382 of title 5.

.

(2)

Effective date

The amendments made by paragraph (1) shall take effect on the first day of the first pay period beginning after the day that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(f)

Comparability pay program for appointees to the Office of the Under Secretary for Health

Section 7410 of such title is amended—

(1)

by striking The Secretary may and inserting (a) In general.—The Secretary may; and

(2)

by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(b)

Comparability pay for appointees to the Office of the Under Secretary for Health

(1)

The Secretary may authorize the Under Secretary for Health to provide comparability pay of not more than $100,000 per year to individuals of the Veterans Health Administration appointed under section 7306 of this title who are not physicians or dentists to achieve annual pay levels for such individuals that are comparable with annual pay levels of individuals with similar positions in the private sector.

(2)

Comparability pay under paragraph (1) for an individual is in addition to all other pay, awards, and performance bonuses paid to such individual under this title.

(3)

Except as provided in paragraph (4), comparability pay under paragraph (1) for an individual shall be considered basic pay for all purposes, including retirement benefits under chapters 83 and 84 of title 5, and other benefits.

(4)

Comparability pay under paragraph (1) for an individual shall not be considered basic pay for purposes of adverse actions under subchapter V of this chapter.

(5)

Comparability pay under paragraph (1) may not be awarded to an individual in an amount that would result in an aggregate amount of pay (including bonuses and awards) received by such individual in a year under this title that is greater than the annual pay of the President.

.

(g)

Special incentive pay for Department pharmacist executives

Section 7410 of such title, as amended by subsection (f), is further amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(c)

Special incentive pay for Department pharmacist executives

(1)

In order to recruit and retain highly qualified Department pharmacist executives, the Secretary may authorize the Under Secretary for Health to pay special incentive pay of not more than $40,000 per year to an individual of the Veterans Health Administration who is a pharmacist executive.

(2)

In determining whether and how much special pay to provide to such individual, the Under Secretary shall consider the following:

(A)

The grade and step of the position of the individual.

(B)

The scope and complexity of the position of the individual.

(C)

The personal qualifications of the individual.

(D)

The characteristics of the labor market concerned.

(E)

Such other factors as the Secretary considers appropriate.

(3)

Special incentive pay under paragraph (1) for an individual is in addition to all other pay (including basic pay) and allowances to which the individual is entitled.

(4)

Except as provided in paragraph (5), special incentive pay under paragraph (1) for an individual shall be considered basic pay for all purposes, including retirement benefits under chapters 83 and 84 of title 5, and other benefits.

(5)

Special incentive pay under paragraph (1) for an individual shall not be considered basic pay for purposes of adverse actions under subchapter V of this chapter.

(6)

Special incentive pay under paragraph (1) may not be awarded to an individual in an amount that would result in an aggregate amount of pay (including bonuses and awards) received by such individual in a year under this title that is greater than the annual pay of the President.

.

(h)

Pay for physicians and dentists

(1)

Non-foreign cost of living adjustment allowance

Section 7431(b) of such title is amended by adding at the end the following:

(5)

The non-foreign cost of living adjustment allowance authorized under section 5941 of title 5 for physicians and dentists whose pay is set under this section shall be determined as a percentage of base pay only.

.

(2)

Market pay determinations for physicians and dentists in administrative or executive leadership positions

Section 7431(c)(4)(B)(i) of such title is amended by adding at the end the following: The Secretary may exempt physicians and dentists occupying administrative or executive leadership positions from the requirements of the previous sentence..

(3)

Exception to prohibition on reduction of market pay

Section 7431(c)(7) of such title is amended by striking concerned. and inserting concerned, unless there is a change in board certification or reduction of privileges..

(i)

Adjustment of pay cap for nurses

Section 7451(c)(2) of such title is amended by striking title 5 and inserting title 5 or in level of GS–15 as prescribed under section 5332 of such title, whichever is greater.

(j)

Exemption for certified registered nurse anesthetists from limitation on authorized competitive pay

Section 7451(c)(2) of such title is further amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: The maximum rate of basic pay for a grade for the position of certified registered nurse anesthetist pursuant to an adjustment under subsection (d) may exceed the maximum rate otherwise provided in the preceding sentence..

(k)

Locality pay scale computations

(1)

Education, training, and support for facility directors in wage surveys

Section 7451(d)(3) of such title is amended by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:

(F)

The Under Secretary for Health shall provide appropriate education, training, and support to directors of Department health-care facilities in the conduct and use of surveys under this paragraph.

.

(2)

Information on methodology used in wage surveys

Section 7451(e)(4) of such title is amended—

(A)

by redesignating subparagraph (D) as subparagraph (E); and

(B)

by inserting after subparagraph (C) the following new subparagraph (D):

(D)

In any case in which the director conducts such a wage survey during the period covered by the report and makes adjustment in rates of basic pay applicable to one or more covered positions at the facility, information on the methodology used in making such adjustment or adjustments.

.

(3)

Disclosure of information to persons in covered positions

Section 7451(e) of such title is further amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(6)
(A)

Upon the request of an individual described in subparagraph (B) for a report provided under paragraph (4) with respect to a Department health care facility, the Under Secretary for Health or the director of such facility shall provide to the individual the most current report for such facility provided under such paragraph.

(B)

An individual described in this subparagraph is—

(i)

an individual in a covered position at a Department health care facility; or

(ii)

a representative of the labor organization representing that individual who is designated by that individual to make the request.

.

(l)

Increased limitation on special pay for nurse executives

Section 7452(g)(2) of such title is amended by striking $25,000 and inserting $100,000.

(m)

Eligibility of part-time nurses for additional nurse pay

(1)

In general

Section 7453 of such title is amended—

(A)

in subsection (a), by striking a nurse and inserting a full-time nurse or part-time nurse;

(B)

in subsection (b)—

(i)

in the first sentence—

(I)

by striking on a tour of duty;

(II)

by striking on such tour; and

(III)

by striking of such tour and inserting of such service; and

(ii)

in the second sentence, by striking of such tour and inserting of such service;

(C)

in subsection (c)—

(i)

by striking on a tour of duty; and

(ii)

by striking on such tour; and

(D)

in subsection (e)—

(i)

in paragraph (1), by striking eight hours in a day and inserting eight consecutive hours; and

(ii)

in paragraph (5)(A), by striking tour of duty and inserting period of service.

(2)

Exclusion of application of additional nurse pay provisions to certain additional employees

Section 7454(b)(3) of such title is amended to read as follows:

(3)

Employees appointed under section 7408 of this title performing service on a tour of duty, any part of which is within the period commencing at midnight Friday and ending at midnight Sunday, shall receive additional pay in addition to the rate of basic pay provided such employees for each hour of service on such tour at a rate equal to 25 percent of such employee's hourly rate of basic pay.

.

(n)

Exemption of additional nurse positions from limitation on increase in rates of basic pay

Section 7455(c)(1) of such title is amended by inserting after nurse anesthetists, the following: licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses, and nursing positions otherwise covered by title 5,.

3.

Limitations on overtime duty, weekend duty, and alternative work schedules for nurses

(a)

Overtime duty

(1)

In general

Subchapter IV of chapter 74 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

7459.

Nurses: special rules for overtime duty

(a)

Limitation

Except as provided in subsection (c), the Secretary may not require a nurse to work more than 40 hours (or 24 hours if such nurse is covered under section 7456) in an administrative work week or more than eight consecutive hours (or 12 hours if such nurse is covered under section 7456 or 7456A).

(b)

Voluntary overtime

(1)

A nurse may on a voluntary basis elect to work hours otherwise prohibited by subsection (a).

(2)

The refusal of a nurse to work hours prohibited by subsection (a) shall not be grounds to discriminate (within the meaning of section 704(a) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000e–3(a))) against the nurse, to dismiss or discharge the nurse, or to take any other adverse personnel action against the nurse.

(c)

Overtime under emergency circumstances

(1)

Subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary may require a nurse to work hours otherwise prohibited by subsection (a) if—

(A)

the work is a consequence of an emergency that could not have been reasonably anticipated;

(B)

the emergency is non-recurring and is not caused by or aggravated by the inattention of the Secretary or lack of reasonable contingency planning by the Secretary;

(C)

the Secretary has exhausted all good faith, reasonable attempts to obtain voluntary workers;

(D)

the nurse has critical skills and expertise that are required for the work; and

(E)

the work involves work for which the standard of care for a patient assignment requires continuity of care through completion of a case, treatment, or procedure.

(2)

A nurse may not be required to work hours under this subsection after the requirement for a direct role by the nurse in responding to medical needs resulting from the emergency ends.

(d)

Nurse defined

In this section, the term nurse includes the following:

(1)

A registered nurse.

(2)

A licensed practical or vocational nurse.

(3)

A nurse assistant appointed under this chapter or title 5.

(4)

Any other nurse position designated by the Secretary for purposes of this section.

.

(2)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 74 of such title is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 7458 the following new item:

7459. Nurses: special rules for overtime duty.

.

(b)

Weekend duty

Section 7456 of such title is amended—

(1)

in subsection (a) by striking regularly scheduled 12-hour tour of duty and inserting scheduled 12-hour periods of service;

(2)

in subsection (b)—

(A)

in paragraph (2), by striking service performed as part of a regularly scheduled 12-hour tour of duty and inserting any service performed; and

(B)

in paragraph (3)—

(i)

in subparagraph (A), by striking regularly scheduled two 12-hour tours of duty and inserting scheduled 12-hour period of service;

(ii)

in subparagraph (B), by striking regularly scheduled two 12-hour tour of duty and inserting scheduled 12-hour period of service; and

(iii)

in subparagraph (C), by striking regularly scheduled two 12-hour tours of duty and inserting scheduled two 12-hour periods of service;

(3)

by striking subsection (c); and

(4)

by redesignating subsection (d) as subsection (c).

(c)

Alternate work schedules

(1)

In general

Section 7456A(b)(1)(A) of such title is amended by striking three regularly scheduled and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting six regularly scheduled 12-hour periods of service within a pay period shall be considered for all purposes to have worked a full 80-hour pay period..

(2)

Conforming amendments

Section 7456A(b) of such title is amended—

(A)

in the subsection heading, by striking 36/40 and inserting 72/80;

(B)

in paragraph (2)—

(i)

in subparagraph (A), by striking 40-hour basic work week and inserting 80-hour pay period;

(ii)

in subparagraph (B), by striking regularly scheduled 36-hour tour of duty within the work week and inserting scheduled 72-hour period of service within the bi-weekly pay period;

(iii)

in subparagraph (C)—

(I)

in clause (i), by striking regularly scheduled 36-hour tour of duty within an administrative work week and inserting scheduled 72-hour period of service within an administrative pay period;

(II)

in clause (ii), by striking regularly scheduled 12-hour tour of duty and inserting scheduled 12-hour period of service; and

(III)

in clause (iii), by striking regularly scheduled 36-hour tour of duty work week and inserting scheduled 72-hour period of service pay period; and

(iv)

in subparagraph (D), by striking regularly scheduled 12-hour tour of duty and inserting scheduled 12-hour period of service; and

(C)

in paragraph (3), by striking regularly scheduled 12-hour tour of duty and inserting scheduled 12-hour period of service.

4.

Improvements to certain educational assistance programs

(a)

Reinstatement of health professionals educational assistance scholarship program

(1)

In general

Section 7618 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking December 31, 1998 and inserting December 31, 2013.

(2)

Expansion of eligibility requirements

Paragraph (2) of section 7612(b) of such title is amended by striking (under section and all that follows through the period at the end and inserting the following: as an appointee under paragraph (1) or (3) of section 7401 of this title..

(b)

Improvements to education debt reduction program

(1)

Inclusion of employee retention as purpose of program

Section 7681(a)(2) of such title is amended by inserting and retention after recruitment the first time it appears.

(2)

Eligibility

Section 7682 of such title is amended—

(A)

in subsection (a)(1), by striking a recently appointed and inserting an; and

(B)

by striking subsection (c).

(3)

Maximum amounts of assistance

Section 7683(d)(1) of such title is amended—

(A)

by striking $44,000 and inserting $60,000; and

(B)

by striking $10,000 and inserting $12,000.

(c)

Loan repayment program for clinical researchers from disadvantaged backgrounds

(1)

In general

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, may utilize the authorities available in section 487E of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 288–5) for the repayment of the principal and interest of educational loans of appropriately qualified health professionals who are from disadvantaged backgrounds in order to secure clinical research by such professionals for the Veterans Health Administration.

(2)

Limitations

The exercise by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs of the authorities referred to in paragraph (1) shall be subject to the conditions and limitations specified in paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 487E(a) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 288–5(2) and (3)).

(3)

Funding

Amounts for the repayment of principal and interest of educational loans under this subsection shall be derived from amounts available to the Secretary of Veterans for the Veterans Health Administration for Medical Services.