Summary: H.R.1199 — 101st Congress (1989-1990)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (08/02/1990)

Department of Veterans Affairs Nurse Pay Act of 1990 - Title I: Pay for Nurses and Other Health-Care Personnel - Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to restructure the current registered nurse grades of the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide four grade levels for them. (Current law provides for eight grade levels.)

Amends Federal law to authorize the directors of Department health-care facilities to provide that the basic rates of pay for specified full- and part-time health care personnel positions (covered positions) in the Department are sufficient for the facilities to be competitive, on the basis of pay and other employee benefits, with non-Department health-care facilities in the same labor-market area with respect to recruitment and retention of qualified personnel.

Excludes the positions of physician and dentist from among the covered positions affected by this Act.

Requires the Secretary, upon receiving the recommendation of the Chief Medical Director (CMD), to prescribe regulations setting forth criteria and procedures to carry out this Act.

Mandates that the maximum rate of pay in each grade in a covered position be not more than 133 percent of the minimum rate paid in that grade, except that if the Secretary determines that it is insufficient for recruitment and retention of high-quality health-care personnel, he may raise the maximum rate up to 175 percent. Directs the Secretary to justify any raise in the maximum rate in the next required annual report to specified congressional committees.

Prohibits the maximum rate of basic pay for any grade for a covered position from exceeding the rate for positions in level V of the Executive Schedule.

Establishes step increments to be prescribed by the Secretary for each grade in a covered position.

States that at each Department health-care facility, the director shall make adjustments in the basic pay rate for a grade to achieve consistency with that of corresponding health-care professionals in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) labor-market area of that facility. Requires the director to determine the need for pay rate adjustments if BLS releases the results of a new industry-wage survey for that labor market. Requires the director to survey local facilities to obtain such information if it is not available from BLS. Sets forth certain prohibitions, notice, and justification requirements with respect to pay rate adjustments.

Requires the Secretary to report on any pay adjustments effective during the previous 12 months to specified congressional committees by February 1, 1991, February 1, 1992, and February 1, 1993.

Requires the Secretary to report on the general exercise of pay rate authority during the preceding fiscal year to the same committees by December 1, 1991, December 1, 1992, and December 1, 1993.

Requires regulations to assure that whenever an employee in a covered position is promoted to a new duty assignment, the basic rate of pay shall be increased at least one step increment in that employee's grade.

Makes the basic pay rate of a head nurse position two step increments above that of a nurse, even if this means creating new equivalent pay steps.

Requires an employee in a covered position to be promoted to a higher grade at a step having a basic rate greater than the rate the employee received before such promotion.

Directs the director of a Department health-care facility to pay a cash bonus (not to exceed $2,000) to an employee in a covered position who becomes certified in a specialty recognized by the Department. Authorizes such a bonus to an employee in such a position who demonstrates exemplary job performance and achievement.

Requires the Secretary to discuss in his annual report the use of bonuses and other job performance incentives.

Requires the Secretary to prescribe regulations permitting health-care facility directors to make new appointments and to raise the pay rates of other employees without prior approval from higher authority in certain circumstances.

Prohibits any reduction in grade or step (except pursuant to disciplinary action) whenever an employee in a covered position (without a break in employment) transfers from one Department health-care facility to another if the duties of the new position are similar to those of the one from which he transferred.

Repeals the current limitation on a nurse's hourly rate of overtime pay.

Title II: Miscellaneous - Authorizes the Secretary, during the four-year period beginning on October 1, 1990, to conduct a pilot program for the furnishing of medical, rehabilitative, and health-related services in noninstitutional settings for veterans who: (1) are eligible for nursing home care; (2) are in receipt or in need of nursing home care primarily for the treatment of a service-connected disability; and (3) have a service-connected disability rated at 50 percent or more. Directs the Secretary, under such program, to: (1) furnish appropriate health-related services solely through contracts with appropriate public and private agencies that provide such services; and (2) in the case of each veteran provided services under the program, appoint a Department health-care employee to furnish case management services. Authorizes the Secretary to provide in-kind assistance (through the services of Department employees and the sharing of other Department resources) to a facility furnishing such noninstitutional services to veterans. Outlines administrative provisions concerning the provision of such in-kind assistance. Limits the total cost of the provision of such alternative services to eligible veterans to 65 percent of the cost that would have been incurred by the Department if the Department had furnished such nursing home care to such veteran. Directs the Secretary to report to the veterans' committees the Secretary's evaluation, findings, and conclusions regarding the provision of such alternative noninstitutional care.

Includes health-care facilities in a provision authorizing the sharing of specialized medical resources with medical schools, hospitals, and medical research centers. Revises the authority to share specialized medical resources. Permits the heads of the health-care facilities to establish an appropriate reimbursement rate after considering certain factors. (Currently, such reimbursements must cover full costs.) Provides that payments for the use of such resources must be returned to funds allotted to the facility that furnished the resource in lieu of the Veterans Administration medical appropriation.

Authorizes the temporary full-time appointment (up to two years) of a person who has completed a full course of training as a nurse or other specialized personnel category, pending a registration or licensure in a State or certification by a national board. Subjects such school or national board to the approval of the Secretary. Allows the same type of appointment for a student in such a course (approved by the Secretary) for a period not to exceed the duration of the program.

Amends the Veterans' Benefits Amendments of 1989 to postpone the reporting requirements of the Special Committee on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to February 1, 1991.

Amends Federal law to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to institute a Selected Reserve member stipend program under the Armed Forces Educational Assistance Program. Requires an individual, in order to be eligible for such assistance, to be accepted or enrolled as a full-time student at a qualifying educational institution in a course of education or training approved by the Secretary and leading toward completion of a degree in a health profession involving direct patient care or care incident to such direct patient care.

Prohibits the Secretary from approving the application of an individual applying for such assistance unless the individual is entitled to benefits under the Selected Reserve GI Bill program and has achieved a certain qualifying score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test.

Authorizes the Secretary to pay a qualifying individual $400 monthly under such program. Requires a period of obligated service as a full-time employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs from a participating individual in return for such assistance. Makes such an individual liable to the United States for failure to serve in the Department at a health-care facility for the agreed upon period.

Increases the Selected Reserve member stipend amount whenever there is a general Federal pay increase.

Requires that, if an individual cannot complete obligated service because of active duty, he or she shall be permitted to do so upon the completion of the duty. Authorizes the Secretary to waive the obligated service requirement in certain cases or if it is in the best interest of the government.

Authorizes the Secretary to suspend, terminate, reduce, or make a final denial of any financial assistance or payment under either a veterans' or an armed forces' educational assistance program or take other adverse action based on information produced by a matching program with the Department of Defense. Requires the Secretary, before taking any such action, to provide the individual involved with written notice of the findings of the Secretary based on the matching program and of the individual's right to contest the findings within ten days.

Ratifies, from July 2, 1990, until the enactment of this Act, the use by the Department of Veterans Affairs of any category of information provided by the Department or the Department of Defense for making military service status determinations of persons receiving veterans' or armed forces' educational assistance.

Delays the effective date of the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988 with respect to certain education benefits computer matching programs between DOD and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Includes as eligible for veterans' educational assistance under the Montgomery GI Bill those individuals who: (1) commenced their third academic year at one of the service academies or as a member of the Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps in a program of educational assistance before January 1, 1977; (2) served on active duty for a period of more than 180 days as a commissioned officer; (3) were discharged or released from such duty under conditions other than dishonorable; and (4) submit to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs before January 1, 1991, an irrevocable election to be eligible for such assistance. Directs the Secretary to refund to any person fulfilling such requirements his or her unused contributions to the Post-Vietnam Era Veterans Education Account.

Authorizes the Secretary to establish a procedure to approve second and subsequent changes of the educational program for a veteran or other eligible person if certain requirements are met.

Designates the Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Saginaw, Michigan, as the Aleda E. Lutz Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.