Summary: H.R.2206 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (10/06/1997)

Veterans Health Programs Improvement Act of 1997 - Authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in providing care and services to veterans suffering from serious mental illness, including homeless veterans, to provide: (1) outreach services; (2) care, treatment, and rehabilitative services (including the use of halfway houses); and (3) therapeutic transitional housing assistance and outpatient care.

Authorizes the Secretary to operate residences and facilities as therapeutic housing, with specified conditions, including the requirement of a house manager at each residence and payments by residents to cover board expenses.

Directs the Secretary to operate a program to expand and improve the provision of veterans' benefits to homeless veterans. Requires the establishment of at least eight sites as centers for the provision of comprehensive services to homeless veterans. Directs the Secretary to coordinate such services with other Federal departments and agencies, State and local governments, and nongovernmental organizations. Requires assessments of the needs of homeless veterans living in each area served by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Amends the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Service Programs Act of 1992 to extend through FY 1999 the homeless veterans comprehensive service grant program.

Amends the Veterans' Benefits Improvements Act of 1994 to require additional information on program effectiveness in a required report concerning assistance provided to homeless veterans.

Extends permanently a program for the furnishing of noninstitutional alternatives to veterans' nursing home care. Authorizes (current law requires) the Secretary to furnish appropriate health-related services solely through contracts with public and private agencies and to designate Department health-care employees to furnish case management services to veterans furnished such services.

Amends the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992 to require counseling to Persian Gulf War veterans to include verbal counseling along with the provision of written materials.

Authorizes the Secretary to provide hospital care and services to a veteran who was exposed to a toxic substance, radiation (current law), or other conditions (currently, an environmental hazard) while performing military service.

Directs the Secretary to carry out a program of demonstration projects to test new approaches to treating, and improving treatment satisfaction of, Persian Gulf veterans who suffer from undiagnosed and ill-defined disabilities. Requires the program to be established no later than July 1, 1998, at up to ten geographically dispersed Department medical centers. Provides funding.

Excludes from Federal personnel reduction requirements employees of the Veterans Health Administration who: (1) provide or supervise others who provide care and services to patients; or (2) conduct research.

Allows a drug, pharmaceutical or biological product, or hematology-related product listed on the Federal pharmaceutical supply schedule to be procured or ordered from such schedule only by or for the following entities: (1) any agency or instrumentality of the Government; or (2) any other entity specified in Federal law or regulation effective before July 1, 1997, as eligible to procure such products from such schedule.

Redesignates the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans' Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina, as the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.