Text: H.R.639 — 107th Congress (2001-2002)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (02/14/2001)


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[Congressional Bills 107th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 639 Introduced in House (IH)]







107th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 639

  To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a comprehensive 
   program for testing and treatment of veterans for the Hepatitis C 
                                 virus.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                           February 14, 2001

Mr. Frelinghuysen (for himself, Mrs. Kelly, Mr. Pallone, Mrs. Roukema, 
    Mr. Menendez, Mrs. Morella, Mr. Shays, Mr. Green of Texas, Mr. 
  Pascrell, Mr. Ferguson, Mr. Saxton, Mr. Crowley, Mr. McGovern, Mr. 
 LoBiondo, Mr. Berman, Mr. Sisisky, Mr. Weller, Mr. Petri, Mr. Filner, 
   Mr. Hinchey, Mr. Serrano, Mr. Schrock, Mr. Boucher, Mr. King, Mr. 
Weldon of Pennsylvania, Mr. Goode, Mr. Frank, Ms. Rivers, Ms. McKinney, 
 Ms. Roybal-Allard, Mrs. Maloney of New York, Mr. Payne, Ms. Baldwin, 
  Mr. Baird, Mr. Gilman, Mr. Sweeney, Mrs. McCarthy of New York, Mr. 
  Fossella, Mr. Rush, Mrs. Christensen, Mr. Capuano, Mrs. Lowey, Mr. 
 Weiner, and Mr. Abercrombie) introduced the following bill; which was 
             referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
  To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish a comprehensive 
   program for testing and treatment of veterans for the Hepatitis C 
                                 virus.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Veterans Comprehensive Hepatitis C 
Health Care Act''.

SEC. 2. COMPREHENSIVE HEPATITIS C HEALTH CARE TESTING AND TREATMENT 
              PROGRAM FOR VETERANS.

    (a) In General.--(1) Chapter 17 of title 38, United States Code, is 
amended by inserting after section 1720E the following new section:
``Sec. 1720F. Hepatitis C testing and treatment
    ``(a) Initial Testing.--(1) During the one-year period beginning on 
the date of the enactment of the Veterans Comprehensive Hepatitis C 
Health Care Act, the Secretary shall provide a blood test for the 
Hepatitis C virus to--
            ``(A) each veteran who served in the active military, 
        naval, or air service during the Vietnam era or who is 
        considered to be `at risk,' and is enrolled to receive care 
        under section 1710 of this title who requests the test or is 
        otherwise receiving a physical examination or any care or 
        treatment from the Secretary; and
            ``(B) to any other veteran who requests the test.
    ``(2) After the end of the period referred to in paragraph (1), the 
Secretary shall provide a blood test for the Hepatitis C virus to any 
veteran who requests the test.
    ``(b) Followup Testing and Treatment.--In the case of any veteran 
who tests positive for the Hepatitis C virus, the Secretary--
            ``(1) shall provide such followup tests as are considered 
        medically appropriate; and
            ``(2) shall provide appropriate treatment for that veteran 
        in accordance with the national protocol for the treatment of 
        Hepatitis C.
    ``(c) Status of Care.--Treatment shall be provided under subsection 
(b) without regard to whether the Hepatitis C virus is determined to be 
service-connected and without regard to priority group categorization 
of the veteran. No copayment may be charged for treatment under 
subsection (b), and no third-party reimbursement may by sought or 
accepted, under section 1729 of this title or any other provision of 
law, for testing or treatment under subsection (a) or (b).
    ``(2) Paragraph (1) shall cease to be in effect upon the effective 
date of a determination by the Secretary or by Congress that the 
occurrence of the Hepatitis C virus in specified veterans shall be 
presumed to be service-connected.
    ``(d) Staffing.--(1) The Secretary shall require that each 
Department medical center employ at least one full-time 
gastroenterologist, hepatologist, or other qualified physician to 
provide tests and treatment for the Hepatitis C virus under this 
section.
    ``(2) The Secretary shall, to the extent practicable, ensure that 
each Department medical center has at least one staff member assigned 
to work, in coordination with Hepatitis C medical personnel, to 
coordinate treatment options for Hepatitis C patients and provide 
information and counseling for those patients and their families. Such 
a staff member should preferably be trained in psychology or psychiatry 
or be a social worker.
    ``(3) In order to improve treatment provided to veterans with the 
Hepatitis C virus, the Secretary shall provide increased training 
options to Department health care personnel.''.
    (b) Clerical Amendment.--The table of sections at the beginning of 
such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 
1720E the following new item:

``1720F. Hepatitis C testing and treatment.''.

SEC. 3. FUNDING FOR HEPATITIS C PROGRAMS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS 
              AFFAIRS.

    (a) Program Account.--Beginning with fiscal year 2001, amounts 
appropriated for the Department of Veterans Affairs for Hepatitis C 
detection and treatment shall be provided, within the ``Medical Care'' 
account, through the ``Specific Purpose'' subaccount, rather than the 
``VERA'' subaccount.
    (b) Allocation of Funds to VISNs.--In allocating funds appropriated 
for the Department of Veterans Affairs for the ``Medical Care'' account 
to the Veterans Integrated Service Networks, the Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs shall allocate funds for detection and treatment of the 
Hepatitis C virus based upon incidence rates of that virus among 
veterans (rather than based upon the overall population of veterans) in 
each such network.
    (c) Limitation on Use of Funds.--Amounts appropriated for the 
Department of Veterans Affairs for Hepatitis C detection and treatment 
through the ``Specific Purpose'' subaccount may not be used for any 
other purpose.

SEC. 4. NATIONAL POLICY.

    (a) Standardized Nationwide Policy.--The Secretary of Veterans 
Affairs shall develop and implement a standardized policy to be applied 
throughout the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system with 
respect to the Hepatitis C virus. The policy shall include the testing 
protocol for the Hepatitis C virus, treatment options, education and 
notification efforts, and establishment of a specific Hepatitis C 
diagnosis code for measurement and treatment purposes.
    (b) Outreach.--The Secretary shall, on an annual basis, take 
appropriate actions to notify veterans who have not been tested for the 
Hepatitis C virus of the need for such testing and the availability of 
such testing from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

SEC. 5. HEPATITIS C CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE.

    (a) Establishment.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
establish at least one, and not more than three, additional Hepatitis C 
centers of excellence or additional sites at which activities of 
Hepatitis C centers of excellence are carried out. Each such additional 
center or site shall be established at a Department of Veterans Affairs 
medical center in one of the five geographic service areas (known as a 
Veterans Integrated Service Network) with the highest case rate of 
Hepatitis C in fiscal year 1999.
    (b) Funding.--Funding for the centers or sites established under 
subsection (a) shall be provided from amounts available to the Central 
Office of the Department of Veterans Affairs and shall be in addition 
to amounts allocated for Hepatitis C pursuant to section 3.
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