Text: H.R.1527 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Referred in Senate (09/11/2008)

 
[Congressional Bills 110th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 1527 Referred in Senate (RFS)]

  2d Session
                                H. R. 1527


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                           September 11, 2008

Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT


 
   To amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of 
 Veterans Affairs to conduct a pilot program to permit certain highly 
   rural veterans enrolled in the health system of the Department of 
 Veterans Affairs to receive covered health services through providers 
                  other than those of the Department.

    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 ``Rural Veterans Access to Care Act''.

SEC. 2. PILOT PROGRAM OF ENHANCED CONTRACT CARE AUTHORITY FOR HEALTH 
              CARE NEEDS OF VETERANS IN HIGHLY RURAL AREAS.

    (a) In General.--Section 1703 of title 38, United States Code, is 
amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
    ``(e)(1) The Secretary shall conduct a pilot program which permits 
highly rural veterans--
            ``(A) who are enrolled in the system of patient enrollment 
        established under section 1705(a) of this title, and
            ``(B) who reside within Veterans Integrated Service Network 
        1, 15, 18, and 19,
to elect to receive covered health services for which such veterans are 
eligible through a non-Department health-care provider.
    ``(2) The election under paragraph (1) shall be made by submitting 
an application to the Secretary in accordance with such regulations as 
the Secretary prescribes. The Secretary shall authorize such services 
to be furnished to the veteran pursuant to contracting with such a 
provider to furnish such services to such veteran.
    ``(3) For purposes of this subsection, a highly rural veteran is 
one who--
            ``(A) resides in a location that is--
                    ``(i) more than 60 miles driving distance from the 
                nearest Department health-care facility providing 
                primary care services, if the veteran is seeking such 
                services;
                    ``(ii) more than 120 miles driving distance from 
                the nearest Department health-care facility providing 
                acute hospital care, if the veteran is seeking such 
                care; or
                    ``(iii) more than 240 miles driving distance from 
                the nearest Department health-care facility providing 
                tertiary care, if the veteran is seeking such care; or
            ``(B) in the case of a veteran who resides in a location 
        less than the distance indicated in clause (i), (ii), or (iii) 
        of subparagraph (A), as applicable, experiences such hardship 
        or other difficulties in travel to the nearest appropriate 
        Department health-care facility that such travel is not in the 
        best interest of the veteran, as determined by the Secretary 
        pursuant to regulations prescribed for purposes of this 
        subsection.
    ``(4) For purposes of this subsection, a covered health service is 
any hospital care, medical service, rehabilitative service, or 
preventative health service authorized to be provided by the Secretary 
under this chapter or any other provision of law.
    ``(5) For purposes of this subsection, a health-care provider is 
any qualified entity or individual furnishing a covered health service.
    ``(6) In meeting the requirements of this subsection, the Secretary 
shall develop the functional capability to provide for the exchange of 
medical information between the Department and non-Department health-
care providers.
    ``(7) This subsection shall apply to covered health services 
provided during the 3-year period beginning on the 120th day after the 
date of the enactment of this subsection.
    ``(8) Not later than the 30th day after the close of each year of 
the period described in paragraph (7), the Secretary shall submit a 
report to the Committees of Veterans' Affairs of the House of 
Representatives and the Senate a report which includes--
            ``(A) the Secretary's assessment of the program under this 
        subsection, including its cost, volume, quality, patient 
        satisfaction, benefit to veterans, and any other findings and 
        conclusions of the Secretary with respect to such program, and
            ``(B) any recommendations that the Secretary may have for--
                    ``(i) continuing the program,
                    ``(ii) extending the program to other or all 
                service regions of the Department, and
                    ``(iii) making the program permanent.''.
    (b) Effective Date.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
implement the amendment made by subsection (a) not later than the 120th 
day after the date of the enactment of this Act.

            Passed the House of Representatives September 10, 2008.

            Attest:

                                            LORRAINE C. MILLER,

                                                                 Clerk.