Summary: S.2484 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Public Law No: 108-445 (12/03/2004)

(This measure has not been amended since it was passed by the Senate on October 5, 2004. The summary of that version is repeated here.)

Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Personnel Enhancement Act of 2004 - (Sec. 3) Amends Federal provisions concerning grades and pay levels for physicians and dentists employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to replace the current seven physician and dentist grades with a physician grade and dentist grade.

Replaces provisions providing special pay to Department physicians and dentists with provisions which provide a pay system composed of three different elements. Makes the first element of such pay base pay, with 15 pay steps based on the total years of service in the Department's Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Increases the base pay for each step achieved, from step 1 (two years or less of such service) to step 15 (more than 28 years).

Makes the second element of such pay market pay, which is pay intended to reflect the recruitment and retention needs for the specialty or assignment of a particular physician or dentist in a Department facility. Requires the annual amount of such pay to be determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on a case-by-case basis, requiring the Secretary to consult two or more national surveys concerning physician and dentist pay. Requires such market pay to be reevaluated at least every 24 months.

Makes the third element of such pay performance pay, which is pay based on the physician's or dentist's achievement of specific goals and performance objectives as prescribed by the Secretary. Provides a fiscal year performance pay limit of $15,000 or 7.5 percent of the total of base pay and market pay.

Requires the Secretary, at least every two years, to prescribe for Department-wide applicability the minimum and maximum amounts of total pay to Department physicians and dentists.

Places at Level III of the Executive Schedule the annual rate of basic pay for the VHA position of Under Secretary for Health, allowing such pay to be increased by market pay when the person so serving is also a Department physician or dentist.

Directs the Secretary to: (1) prescribe regulations for VHA physician and dentist pay based on changes made by this Act; and (2) report annually for the next five years to the congressional veterans' committees on such pay.

Provides: (1) initial rates of base pay for Department physicians and dentists based on changes made by this Act; and (2) transition provisions for current Department physicians and dentists.

Terminates the special pay currently authorized for the Under Secretary for Health.

(Sec. 4) Authorizes the Secretary, in order to obtain or retain the services of registered nurses at any Department health-care facility, to establish two alternative work schedules for such nurses: (1) the "36/40" schedule, consisting of three 12-hour shifts (36 hours) in a work week but paid as a full work week (40 hours); and (2) the "9-month" schedule, consisting of nine months of work with three months off, allowing 75 percent of the normal annual pay for such position apportioned over a 12-month period.

Requires the Secretary to certify annually to Congress over the next three years whether each Department facility has in place a policy designed to prevent work hours by nurses providing direct patient care (other than emergency care) in excess of 12 consecutive hours or 60 hours in any seven-day period.

(Sec. 5) Authorizes the Secretary, in order to recruit and retain highly qualified Department nurse executives, to pay to each nurse executive employed at a Department health-care facility or the Central Office an annual special pay of at least $10,000 and up to $25,000, based on current pay grade, qualifications, complexity of duties, etc.