H. R. 1134
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
March 13, 2013
Mr. Gallego introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out a grant program and pilot program designed to improve the delivery of health care to veterans residing in rural areas, and for other purposes.
Congress makes the following findings:
The estimated veteran population of the Nation is 22,328,000.
Nearly 30 percent of veterans live in rural areas, with younger veterans who served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom more likely than other veterans to live in rural areas.
Veterans living in rural areas are reported to be in poorer health than veterans living in urban areas.
Veterans living in rural areas often need to travel extremely long distances to receive medical care and the other services to which they are entitled.
The medical facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs include 821 community-based outpatient clinics, 300 veterans centers, and 152 hospitals.
Rural veterans represent 41 percent of the total number of veterans enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs patient enrollment system under section 1705 of title 38, United States Code.
A higher percentage of veterans residing in rural areas reported having at least one disability compared with veterans residing in urban areas.
Each year more than 150,000 members of the Armed Forces are discharged or separated from service in the Armed Forces and transition to veteran status.
Navigating the transition from the health care system of Department of Defense to the health care system of the Department of Veterans Affairs involves the coordination of data and information between Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
It is important to develop electronic health records that can be accessed by both the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs whether a patient is a member of the Armed Forces or a veteran to ensure the greater availability of health care information for members of the Armed Forces and veterans.
Transportation grants for rural veterans service organizations
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall establish a grant program to provide innovative transportation options to veterans in highly rural areas.
Use of funds
Grants awarded under this section may be used by State veterans service agencies and veterans service organizations to—
assist veterans in highly rural areas to travel to Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and
otherwise assist in providing medical care to veterans in highly rural areas.
The amount of a grant under this section may not exceed $50,000.
No matching requirement
The recipient of a grant under this section may not be required to provide matching funds as a condition for receiving such grant.
Recovery of unused grant funds
If a recipient of a grant does not use the full amount of funds received under this section by not later than September 30 of the fiscal year in which such grant was awarded, the United States shall be entitled to recover from such recipient the total of all unused grant amounts made under this section to such recipient.
The Secretary shall prescribe regulations for—
evaluating grant applications under this section; and
otherwise administering the program established by this section.
Not later than February 1 of each year, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report containing information related to each grant awarded under this section during the preceding year, including—
the name of the grant recipient; and
the amount of the grant.
Veterans Service Organization Definition
In this section, the term veterans service organization means any organization recognized by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the representation of veterans under section 5902 of title 38, United States Code.
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall conduct outreach, including under chapter 63 of title 38, United States Code, to educate veterans and their family members about the availability of transportation to assist veterans living in rural areas in traveling to Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, including transportation available pursuant to a grant made under section 2.
In this section, the
outreach shall have the meaning given such term in section
6301(b)(1) of title 38, United States Code.
Pilot program for the implementation of electronic health record systems or capabilities at Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities located in rural areas
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in cooperation with the Secretary of Defense, shall carry out a pilot program under section 1635(f) of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2008 ( Public Law 110–181 ; 122 Stat. 462; 10 U.S.C. 1071 note) at Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities located in rural areas and selected by the Secretary. Such pilot program shall be designed to—
implement at such medical facilities electronic health record systems or capabilities that allow for full interoperability of personal health care information between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs;
ensure that veterans served by such medical facilities are afforded the technological advances to improve the quality of health care they receive;
provide physicians and other personnel at such medical facilities with access to the complete personal health care information of members of the Armed Forces who are discharged or released from service in the Armed Forces; and
increase the accessibility, efficiency, and use of electronic health records at such facilities to meet improved health care needs.
Selection of medical facilities
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in cooperation with the Secretary of Defense, shall select Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities at which to carry out the pilot program under this section. Such facilities shall be located in rural areas where the population rate of veterans exceeds six percent.
Not later than April 1 of each year, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to Congress a report on the pilot program under this section. Each such report shall include—
an evaluation of best practices relating to furnishing health care to veterans residing in rural areas;
an evaluation of the education and training provided to physicians and other personnel at medical facilities participating in the pilot program; and
an evaluation of the health care provided to veterans residing in rural areas.