IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
April 9, 2014
Mr. Portman (for himself and Mr. Rockefeller) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Armed Services
To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide an individual with a mental health assessment before the individual enlists in the Armed Forces or is commissioned as an officer in the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Medical Evaluation Parity for Servicemembers Act of 2014
Preliminary mental health assessments for individuals becoming members of the Armed Forces
Chapter 31 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
Preliminary mental health assessments
Provision of mental health assessment
Before any individual enlists in an armed force or is commissioned as an officer in an armed force, the Secretary concerned shall provide the individual with a mental health assessment. The Secretary shall use such results as a baseline for any subsequent mental health examinations, including such examinations provided under sections 1074f and 1074m of this title.
Use of assessment
The Secretary may not consider the results of a mental health assessment conducted under subsection (a) in determining the assignment or promotion of a member of the armed forces.
Application of privacy laws
With respect to applicable laws and regulations relating to the privacy of information, the Secretary shall treat a mental health assessment conducted under subsection (a) in the same manner as the medical records of a member of the armed forces.
The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding after the item relating to section 520c the following new item:
520d. Preliminary mental health assessments.
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health shall submit to Congress and the Secretary of Defense a report on preliminary mental health assessments of members of the Armed Forces.
The report under paragraph (1) shall include the following:
Recommendations with respect to establishing a preliminary mental health assessment of members of the Armed Forces to bring mental health screenings to parity with physical screenings of members.
Recommendations with respect to the composition of the mental health assessment, best practices, and how to track assessment changes relating to traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other conditions.
The National Institute of Mental Health shall carry out paragraph (1) in coordination with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the surgeons general of the military departments, and other relevant experts.
Physical examinations and mental health screenings for certain members undergoing separation from the Armed Forces who are not otherwise eligible for such examinations
The Secretary of the military department concerned shall provide a comprehensive physical examination (including a screening for Traumatic Brain Injury) and a mental health screening to each member of the Armed Forces who, after a period of active duty of more than 180 days, is undergoing separation from the Armed Forces and is not otherwise provided such an examination or screening in connection with such separation from the Department of Defense or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
No right to health care benefits
The provision of a physical examination or mental health screening to a member under subsection (a) shall not, by itself, be used to determine the eligibility of the member for any health care benefits from the Department of Defense or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Funds for the provision of physical examinations and mental health screenings under this section shall be derived from funds otherwise authorized to be appropriated for the military department concerned for the provision of health care to members of the Armed Forces.
Report on capacity of Department of Defense to provide electronic copy of member service treatment records to members separating from the Armed Forces
Not later than six months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to Congress a report setting forth an assessment of the capacity of the Department of Defense to provide each member of the Armed Forces who is undergoing separation from the Armed Forces an electronic copy of the member’s service treatment record at the time of separation.
Matters relating to the National Guard
The assessment under subsection (a) with regards to members of the National Guard shall include an assessment of the capacity of the Department to ensure that the electronic copy of a member’s service treatment record includes health records maintained by each State or territory in which the member served.