The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act (H.R. 3236) was passed in both both chambers by votes of 385–34 in the House and 91–4 in the Senate. It would authorize funds for federal-aid highway and public transportation programs and make funds available from the Veterans Choice Fund to pay for veteran’s health care provided by sources other than the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill will be sent to the President. For more information here is a summary of the bill provided by House Republicans.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Aug 1, 2015.
(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The expanded summary of the House passed version is repeated here.)
Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015
Directs the Secretary of Transportation to reduce the amount apportioned for a surface transportation program, project, or activity for FY2015 by amounts apportioned or allocated under the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 and the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015 for the period from October 1, 2014, through July 31, 2015.
TITLE I--SURFACE TRANSPORTATION PROGRAM EXTENSION
Subtitle A--Federal-Aid Highways
(Sec. 1001) Amends the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 to continue from October 1, 2014, through October 29, 2015, and authorizes appropriations through that period for, specified federal-aid highway programs under:
the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) Technical Corrections Act of 2008, SAFETEA-LU, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), and other specified law. Subjects funding for FY2015, and for the period October 1, 2015, through October 29, 2015, for such programs to certain funding level restrictions.
Amends MAP-21 to authorize appropriations out of the general fund of the Treasury for the Tribal High Priority Projects program for the same period.
Prescribes an obligation ceiling of $40.256 billion for FY2015, including $3,189,683,060 for the period October 1, 2015, through October 29, 2015, for federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs.
(Sec. 1002) Authorizes appropriations from the HTF (other than the Mass Transit Account) for administrative expenses of the federal-aid highway program for the same period.
Subtitle B--Extension of Highway Safety Programs
(Sec. 1101) Extends for the same period the authorization of appropriations for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety programs, including:
highway safety research and development, national priority safety programs, the National Driver Register, the High Visibility Enforcement Program, and NHTSA administrative expenses. Amends SAFETEA-LU to extend for the same period high-visibility traffic safety law enforcement campaigns under the High Visibility Enforcement Program.
Sets aside a specified amount of the total apportionment to states for highway safety programs for a cooperative program to research and evaluate priority highway safety countermeasures for the same period.
(Sec. 1102) Extends for the same period the authorization of appropriations for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) programs, including:
motor carrier safety grants, FMCSA administrative expenses, commercial driver's license program improvement grants, border enforcement grants, performance and registration information system management grants, commercial vehicle information systems and networks deployment grants, safety data improvement grants, a set-aside for high priority activities that improve commercial motor vehicle safety and compliance with commercial motor vehicle safety regulations, a set-aside for new entrant motor carrier audit grants, FMCSA outreach and education, and the commercial motor vehicle operators grant program. (Sec. 1103) Amends the Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration Act to continue, for the same period, the authorized distribution of funds for coastal wetlands, recreational boating safety, projects under the Clean Vessel Act of 19921, boating infrastructure projects, and the National Outreach and Communications Program.
Subtitle C--Public Transportation Programs
(Sec. 1201) Extends for the same period the apportionment of nonurbanized (rural) area formula grants for competitive grants and formula grants for public transportation on Indian reservations.
(Sec. 1202) Extends the apportionment of urbanized area formula grants for passenger ferry projects for the same period.
(Sec. 1203) Extends for the same period the authorization of appropriations from the HTF Mass Transit Account for:
formula grants for public transportation, including allocations for specified projects; research, development demonstration, and deployment projects; the transit cooperative research program; technical assistance and standards development grants; human resources and training grants; capital investment grants; and administrative expenses. (Sec. 1204) Allocates, for the same period, certain amounts to states and territories for formula bus and bus facilities grants.
Subtitle D--Hazardous Materials
(Sec. 1301) Authorizes appropriations for the same period for hazardous materials (hazmat) transportation safety projects.
Authorizes the Secretary to make certain expenditures, including an amount for hazmat training grants, from the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Fund for the same period.
TITLE II--REVENUE PROVISIONS
(Sec. 2001) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to extend through October 30, 2015, the authority for expenditures from: (1) the Highway and Mass Transit Accounts of the Highway Trust Fund, (2) the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, and (3) the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund.
(Sec. 2002) Appropriates additional funds to the Highway and Mass Transit Accounts of the Highway Trust Fund.
(Sec. 2003) Requires tax information returns reporting mortgage interest received in a trade or business to include: (1) the outstanding principal on the mortgage, (2) the date of the origination of the mortgage, and (3) the address of the property which secures the mortgage.
(Sec. 2004) Requires that: (1) the value of the basis in any property acquired from a decedent be consistent with the basis as determined for estate tax purposes; and (2) executors of estates disclose to the Internal Revenue Service and to persons acquiring any interest in the decedent's estate information identifying the value of each interest received.
(Sec. 2005) Makes the six-year limitation on assessments of additional tax applicable to understatements of gross income due to an overstatement of unrecovered costs or other basis.
(Sec. 2006) Changes tax return due dates for partnerships, S corporations, and C corporations. Extends the automatic extension for corporate income tax returns from three to six months.
(Sec. 2007) Extends through 2025 the authority for transfers of excess pension assets of a defined benefit plan to a retiree health benefits account.
(Sec. 2008) Equalizes excise tax rates for liquefied petroleum gas, liquefied natural gas, and compressed natural gas.
TITLE III--ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS
Revises aviation security service passenger fee requirements.
Requires the deposit into the Treasury as offsetting receipts the following sums collected to pay the costs of providing civil aviation security services to airline passengers:
$1.560 billion for FY2024, and $1.6 billion for FY2025. TITLE IV--VETERANS PROVISIONS
VA Budget and Choice Improvement Act
(Sec. 4002) Directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop a plan to consolidate all non-VA provider programs into a new, single Veterans Choice Program to furnish hospital care and medical services at non-VA facilities for veterans in the patient enrollment system.
(Sec. 4003) Requires the presidential budget for FY2017 and every ensuing fiscal year to include an appropriations account for non-VA provider programs.
(Sec. 4004) Grants the VA temporary authority, until the end of FY2015, to use certain transfers from the Veterans Choice Fund to pay for health care for eligible veterans at non-VA facilities, including pharmaceuticals for treatment of Hepatitis C.
(Sec. 4005) Modifies requirements of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 to:
repeal the 60-day limit on follow-up care; repeal the August 1, 2012, enrollment limitation on the eligibility of veterans in the patient enrollment system; extend provider eligibility to any health care provider meeting VA criteria; and base the 40-mile distance requirement as on distance traveled from a VA medical facility, including one offering primary care for a veteran seeking primary care. (Sec. 4006) Prohibits the use of funds by the VA to expand the dialysis pilot program, or to create any new dialysis capability provided by the VA in a facility that is not an initial facility under the dialysis pilot program, until an independent analysis of the dialysis pilot program is conducted for each such initial facility and 180 days have elapsed since the VA reports on the results.
(Sec. 4007) Amends the Internal Revenue Code to:
exclude individuals covered for medical care under TRICARE or the VA from the determination of whether an employer is an applicable large employer with respect to employee enrollment in minimum essential health care coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan, treat a veteran receiving hospital care or medical services for a service-connected disability as not disqualified from participating in or contributing to a tax-preferred health savings account. (Sec. 4008) Designates this title, except for section 4007, an emergency requirement, thereby exempting it from the pay-as-you-go requirement of budget neutrality.