Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (10/08/1998)


Title I: Service Connection for Persian Gulf War Illnesses

Title II: Extension and Enhancement of Persian Gulf War

Health Care Authorities

Title III: Miscellaneous

Persian Gulf War Veterans Act of 1998 - Title I: Service Connection for Persian Gulf War Illnesses - Presumes to be service-connected (and therefore compensable or treatable under Federal veterans' benefits provisions) any illness that: (1) the Secretary of Veterans Affairs determines to warrant such a presumption based upon a positive association with exposure to a biological, chemical, or toxic agent, an environmental or wartime hazard, or preventive medicine or vaccine associated with service in the southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War; and (2) becomes manifest in a Gulf War veteran within a period to be prescribed by the Secretary. Requires such presumption even though there is no record of evidence of such illness in the veteran during the period of service.

Requires the Secretary to make such determinations based on sound medical and scientific evidence and to take into account reports submitted by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) as required under this Act. Requires the Secretary to make determinations regarding presumptions of service connection for covered illnesses within 60 days after receipt of a NAS report.

(Sec. 102) Directs the Secretary to enter into an agreement with NAS under which NAS shall identify: (1) the agents, hazards, or medicines to which Gulf War veterans may have been exposed; and (2) the illnesses that are manifest in such members. Requires NAS, in making such identification, to consider certain pesticides, nerve agents, repellents, compounds, radiation, particulates, endemic diseases, and vaccines. Requires NAS to submit to the congressional veterans and defense committees (designated committees) a report specifying all agents, hazards, or medicines considered. Directs NAS, after such identification, to determine whether a statistical association exists between exposure to such agent, hazard, or medicine and the illness. Requires NAS to separately review potential treatment models for such illnesses, make recommendations for additional studies, and perform subsequent reviews of available evidence and data. Requires periodic reports from NAS to the Secretary, the Secretary of Defense, and the designated committees concerning NAS activities.

Terminates requirements and activities under this Act ten years after NAS submits its first report.

Requires the Secretary to enter into an agreement with an alternative scientific organization if agreement cannot be reached with NAS.

(Sec. 103) Directs the Secretary to develop and implement a plan for the establishment and operation of a single computerized information database for the collection, storage, and analysis of information on illnesses and health care utilization patterns of Gulf War veterans. Requires such plan to be submitted to the Secretary of Defense, NAS, and the designated committees. Directs NAS to evaluate and report on such plan. Requires a joint annual report by the Secretary and the Secretary of Defense concerning data compiled and the types, incidences, and prevalence of the illnesses identified, with explanations, as well as information analysis and the implementation of appropriate treatment models in the health care systems of their respective departments.

(Sec. 104) Requires such Secretaries and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report to the designated committees on any recommendations received from NAS for additional scientific studies.

(Sec. 105) Directs the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense to carry out an ongoing program to provide Gulf War veterans with information relating to any health risks determined to be associated with such service, together with services or benefits available.

Title II: Extension and Enhancement of Persian Gulf War Health Care Authorities - Extends through December 31, 2001, the authority of the Secretary to provide hospital and nursing care and medical services to Persian Gulf War veterans for any disability.

(Sec. 202) Amends the Persian Gulf War Veterans' Benefits Act to extend a program for evaluating the health status of spouses and children of Persian Gulf War veterans until either the date on which all funds for the program are expended or December 31, 2001, whichever is earlier. (Currently such program is authorized until December 31, 1998.) Repeals certain testing and evaluation requirements under such program. Provides additional program outreach requirements. Authorizes the Secretary, in order to increase the number of diagnostic tests and medical examinations under such program: (1) to reimburse primary care physicians of such spouses and children for the costs of such tests or examinations; (2) to conduct such tests and examinations in Department medical facilities; and (3) in the event travel is required to conduct such tests or examinations by contract entities, to reimburse the spouses and children for the costs of such travel and related lodging. Requires the Secretary to provide for monthly reports to the Department's Central Office on activities conducted under the program.

Title III: Miscellaneous - Requires the Secretary to seek to enter into an agreement with NAS or other appropriate independent organization under which NAS assesses the need for and feasibility of establishing an independent entity to: (1) evaluate and monitor the post-deployment health concerns of military personnel; (2) evaluate the health care provided both before and after deployment; and (3) take certain related actions with respect to the monitoring, evaluation, and improvement of post-deployment health care. Requires a report from NAS to the designated committees on assessment results.