Summary: S.1359 — 104th Congress (1995-1996)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (09/26/1996)


Title I: Veterans Health Administration

Subtitle A: Administration

Subtitle B: Personnel

Title II: Health Care

Subtitle A: Readjustment Counseling

Subtitle B: Other Provisions

Title III: Health Care Research

Title IV: Hospice Care Services

Title V: Mammography Standards

Veterans' Medical Programs Amendments of 1996 - Title I: Veterans Health Administration - Subtitle A: Administration - Authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into arrangements for the exchange and mutual use of health-care resources between Department of Veterans Affairs health care facilities and non-Department health-care providers. (Currently, such sharing is authorized only for specialized medical resources.) Removes the requirement of an annual fiscal year report concerning such shared resources.

(Sec. 102) Reduces from 90 to 45 days the required period of prior congressional notification after which the Secretary may implement an administrative reorganization within the Department.

(Sec. 103) Repeals a Federal provision which prohibits, with an exception, the Secretary from entering into a contract under which an activity at a Department health-care facility currently performed by Federal employees is converted to one performed by Federal contractor employees.

Subtitle B: Personnel - Includes all Department facilities furnishing hospital care or medical services (currently, only Department hospitals) under provisions authorizing the Secretary to establish residencies and internships.

(Sec. 112) Repeals a Federal provision prohibiting certain Department health-care personnel from providing care and treatment to any patient other than patients at a Department facility.

(Sec. 113) Authorizes the Secretary to waive special pay agreement refund requirements in the case of physicians and dentists who enter into residency training programs.

Title II: Health Care - Subtitle A: Readjustment Counseling - Prohibits the Secretary from altering or revising the organizational structure of the Readjustment Counseling Service (RCS) within the Department until the congressional veterans' affairs committees have been advised and 60 days have elapsed. Requires each Department budget submitted to the Congress to include the amount requested for the RCS and for oversight of its activities.

(Sec. 202) Expands the number of veterans eligible to receive veterans' readjustment counseling services (currently limited to active-duty Vietnam veterans) to include any veteran who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during a period of war or a period in which hostilities occurred. Authorizes the Secretary to provide counseling to any other veteran to assist such veteran in readjusting to civilian life. Directs the Secretary to provide counseling services to the surviving parents, spouses, and children of military personnel who die in a theater of combat operations or area of hostilities or as a result of a disease, injury, or condition incurred during such service. Authorizes the Secretary to provide such services to the surviving parents, spouses, and children of personnel who die while on active duty or from a disease, injury, or condition incurred while on active duty.

(Sec. 203) Establishes in the Department the Advisory Committee on the Readjustment of Veterans to advise the Secretary with respect to veterans readjustment needs and future Department responses, psychological problems arising from military service, and the effectiveness of the Department's readjustment policies, organizations, and services.

(Sec. 204) Directs the Secretary to report to the veterans' committees on the feasibility and desirability of: (1) the collocation of Vet Centers and outpatient clinics of the Department as current leases for such centers and clinics expire; and (2) providing a limited battery of health care services to veterans at Department readjustment counseling centers.

Subtitle B: Other Provisions - Authorizes the Secretary to pay each State a per diem rate for each veteran receiving adult day health care in a State home.

Includes the construction of adult day health care facilities within the authorized use of funds under a program providing grants to States for the construction of State veterans' nursing home or hospital care facilities.

(Sec. 212) Amends the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 to extend through December 31, 1998, the authority of the Secretary to share health care resources with the Department of Defense.

(Sec. 213) Amends the Persian Gulf War Veterans' Benefits Act to extend through December 31, 1998, the authority of a Department study of the health status of spouses and children of Persian Gulf War veterans.

(Sec. 214) Directs the Secretary to submit to the veterans' committees a copy of any report submitted to the Under Secretary for Health by the Special Committee for the Seriously Mentally Ill Veteran.

Title III: Health Care Research - Directs the Secretary to: (1) designate not more than five Department facilities as locations for centers of mental health services research, education and training, and the development and implementation of innovative clinical activities and systems of care with respect to the delivery of such services by the Department; (2) establish and operate such centers; (3) designate one such center by January 1, 1997; and (4) ensure that such centers are located in various geographic regions.

Requires the official within the Central Office of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) responsible for mental health and behavioral science matters to establish a panel to assess the scientific and clinical merit of proposals submitted to the Secretary for the establishment of new centers. Requires at least three centers to emphasize research into improving the quality of care provided to mentally ill veterans through the development of community-based alternatives to institutional treatment.

Requires the Under Secretary for Health to ensure that useful information produced by activities at the centers is disseminated throughout the VHA. Authorizes appropriations. Requires reports.

(Sec. 302) Extends through December 31, 2000, the authority to establish Department research corporations. Removes the requirement that such corporations must, within a four-year period after their establishment, be recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt organizations specifically under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or be dissolved (thereby allowing such corporation to remain established if it is so recognized under any Code provision). Revises reporting requirements with respect to the establishment of such corporations.

Title IV: Hospice Care Services - Veterans' Hospice Care Services Act of 1996 - Directs the Secretary to conduct a pilot program to: (1) assess the feasibility and desirability of furnishing hospice care to terminally ill veterans; and (2) determine the most efficient and effective means of providing such care. Directs the Secretary to designate 15 to 30 Department medical facilities for hospice care demonstration projects. Allows such hospice care to be provided by Department medical facilities and personnel or by contract with a non-Department medical facility. Limits the amount paid for such care to amounts paid for hospice care programs under title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act.

Directs the Secretary, during the pilot program period of October 1, 1996, through December 31, 2001, to designate no fewer than ten Department medical facilities at which hospice care is being provided to furnish palliative care to such veterans.

Provides for: (1) informing terminally ill veterans of their eligibility for hospice and palliative care; and (2) hospice program evaluation, assessment, and congressional reports concerning the hospice care pilot program by the Secretary and the Under Secretary for Health.

Authorizes appropriations for FY 1997 through 2000.

Title V: Mammography Standards - Women Veterans' Mammography Quality Standards Act - Prohibits mammograms from being performed at a Department facility unless such facility is accredited for such purpose by a private nonprofit organization designated by the Secretary. Requires any such organization to meet the standards for accrediting bodies established under the Public Health Service Act (PHSA).

Directs the Secretary to prescribe quality assurance and control standards relating to the performance and interpretation of mammograms and the use of Department mammogram equipment and facilities consistent with requirements of the PHSA. Requires the Secretary to inspect such equipment and facilities annually. Requires any Department mammograms contracted to a non-Department provider to conform to the standards of the PHSA. Requires a report on the quality standards prescribed.