Summary: H.R.5109 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (09/21/2000)

Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Personnel Act of 2000 - Title I: Personnel Matters - Revises pay adjustment authority for nurses employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to require the director of such Department health-care facility to use third-party industry wage surveys in making such adjustments. Prohibits any adjustment from reducing the rate of basic pay applicable to any nurse grade. Prohibits a director, in determining whether to carry out an adjustment, from considering the absence of a current recruitment or retention problem for personnel in that position. Requires a director to make such determination based on whether there is a significant pay-related staffing problem for such position at that facility. Authorizes the Department's Under Secretary for Health to modify any adjustment determination made by a facility director. Requires each director to report annually to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on staffing for covered positions at that facility. Requires the Secretary to report annually on such staffing to the congressional veterans' committees. Makes annual (currently terminated in 1993) a reporting requirement from the Secretary to the veterans' committees regarding pay adjustments.

Requires the Under Secretary to ensure that: (1) the director of a geographic service area, in formulating policy for the provision of patient care, consult regularly with a senior nurse executive(s); and (2) the director of a health-care facility include a registered nurse on any committee providing recommendations or decisions on medical center operations or policies affecting clinical services, clinical outcomes, budget, or resources.

(Sec. 102) Increases the special pay for dentists for: (1) full-time status; (2) completing a post-graduate year of accredited hospital-based training; (3) length-of-service pay; (4) scarce specialty pay; (5) service in a geographic location in which there exists extraordinary difficulties in the recruitment and retention of qualified dentists; and (6) service in certain executive positions. Credits toward civil service retirement calculations 25 percent of the special pay for length-of-service pay for each two years that the dentist completes as a dentist in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

(Sec. 103) Exempts VHA pharmacists from a required ceiling on special salary rates for certain VHA health professionals.

(Sec. 104) Requires a physician assistant with appropriate experience to advise the Under Secretary on all matters relating to the utilization and employment of VHA physician assistants.

(Sec. 105) Revises generally provisions regarding the temporary appointment of graduates of physician assistant training programs. Provides a three-year term for temporary full-time appointments of certain medical support personnel (with authorized renewals for additional three-year periods).

(Sec. 106) Requires VHA social workers to be licensed or certified to independently practice social work in a State (with an authorized waiver on an individual basis for a reasonable period).

(Sec. 107) Amends the Department of Veterans Affairs Employment Reduction Assistance Act of 1999 to: (1) revise the number of authorized participants in a plan for voluntary separation incentive payments; (2) revise the percentage of required agency contributions to the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund to cover such payments; and (3) extend payment authority through 2002.

Title II: Construction Authorization - Authorizes the Secretary to carry out major medical facility projects at Department medical centers in Palo Alto, California, Miami, Florida, and Long Beach, California. Authorizes the Secretary to carry out a renovation project at the Department medical center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

(Sec. 202) Authorizes appropriations for FY 2001 and 2002 for the Construction, Major Projects, account for such projects.

Title III: Military Service Issues - Directs the Secretary to ensure that: (1) a protocol is used during at least one clinical evaluation of a patient to identify pertinent military experiences and exposures that may contribute to the health of the patient; and (2) such information is included in the patient's medical records. Requires a report from the Secretary to the veterans' committees on the feasibility and desirability of using a computer-based system in conducting such evaluations.

(Sec. 302) Directs the Secretary to contract with an appropriate entity to conduct a follow-up study on post-traumatic stress disorder in Vietnam veterans. Requires a report to the veterans' committees.

Title IV: Medical Administration - Authorizes the Secretary to carry out a pilot program in not more than four geographically dispersed areas to improve access to and coordination of inpatient care of eligible veterans. Terminates the pilot program on September 30, 2005. Authorizes the Secretary, under such program to pay the cost of hospital care and medical services furnished on an inpatient basis in a non-Department hospital to a veteran participant. Directs the Secretary to limit program care and services to general medical and surgical services, and to require that such services be provided only upon preauthorization by the Secretary. Makes eligible for the program a veteran who: (1) is enrolled to receive medical services from a nearby Department outpatient clinic; (2) has received care within 24 months preceding the veteran's application for program enrollment (3) requires such care and services for a non-service-connected condition and could not receive such care and services from a Department clinic; and (4) elects to receive such care and services under an entitled health plan. Directs the Secretary to ensure that at least 15 percent of program participants are veterans without a health care plan. Requires two reports from the Secretary to the veterans' committees on program implementation and operation. Limits to $50 million the total authorized program expenditure for any fiscal year.

(Sec. 402) Authorizes the payment of veterans' disability compensation for veterans who are disabled during participation in a compensated work therapy program.

(Sec. 403) Extends through December 31, 2005, the authority of the Secretary to establish nonprofit research and education corporations.

(Sec. 404) Authorizes the Secretary to furnish temporary lodging in Fisher houses (guest houses) or other appropriate facilities, in connection with the examination, care, and treatment of a veteran, to: (1) a veteran who must travel a significant distance to receive such care and treatment; and (2) a family member and others who accompany such veteran and provide familial support. Authorizes the Secretary to establish charges for such lodging.

(Sec. 405) Extends through 2004 an annual reporting requirement describing activities of the Committee on Care of Severely Chronically Mentally Ill Veterans.

(Sec. 406) Excludes from the right of the Department to recover certain costs from a State for veterans' care facilities not so used for at least 20 years the establishment and operation of an outpatient clinic at such a facility.

(Sec. 407) Prohibits the Secretary from entering into an enhanced-use lease of Department property until 90 days after notifying the veterans' committees of the intention to designate property for such use.

(Sec. 409) Authorizes the Secretary to employ veterans claims examiners (also known as veterans service representatives) on a fee basis. Requires two reports on the implementation of such authority.

(Sec. 410) Directs the Secretary to release a reversionary interest in certain real property in Johnson City, Tennessee, previously transferred to the State of Tennessee.