Text: S.2573 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (01/30/2008)


110th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 2573


To amend title 38, United States Code, to require a program of mental health care and rehabilitation for veterans for service-related post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, or a related substance use disorder, and for other purposes.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

January 30, 2008

Mr. Burr (for himself and Mr. Craig) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs


A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, to require a program of mental health care and rehabilitation for veterans for service-related post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, or a related substance use disorder, and for other purposes.

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 Mental Health Treatment First Act”.

SEC. 2. Mental heath care and rehabilitation for veterans for service-related post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, or related substance use disorder.

(a) In general.—Subchapter II of chapter 17 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 1712B the following new section:

§ 1712C. Mental health care and rehabilitation for service-related post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, or related substance use disorder

“(a) In general.—The Secretary shall carry out a program of mental health care and rehabilitation for veterans who—

“(1) are diagnosed by a physician of the Department with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, or substance use disorder related to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety disorder that is service-related (as determined in accordance with subsection (b)); and

“(2) agree to the conditions of participation applicable to such veterans set forth in subsection (c).

“(b) Treatment of conditions as service-related.—(1) A condition of a veteran described in subsection (a)(1) shall be treated as service-related for purposes of this section if—

“(A) the condition has previously been adjudicated by the Secretary to be service-connected; or

“(B) the condition is judged by the physician of the Department making the diagnosis for the veteran as described in subsection (a)(1) to be plausibly related to the service of the veteran in the active military, naval, or air service.

“(2) The Secretary shall prescribe in regulations the standards to be utilized by physicians of the Department in judging under paragraph (1)(B) whether or not a condition of a veteran described in subsection (a)(1) is plausibly related to the service of the veteran in the active military, naval, or air service.

“(c) Conditions of participation.—(1) As conditions for participation in the program under this section, a veteran seeking mental health care and rehabilitation under the program for a condition described in subsection (a)(1) who has not yet filed a claim for disability under this title for such condition shall agree as follows:

“(A) To comply substantially with the treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan prescribed under subsection (d) for the veteran.

“(B) Not to submit a claim for disability compensation under chapter 11 of this title for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, or a related substance use disorder until the earlier of—

“(i) the end of the one-year period beginning on the date of the commencement of the program by the veteran; or

“(ii) the conclusion of the treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan prescribed under subsection (d) for the veteran.

“(2) As conditions for participation in the program under this section, a veteran seeking mental health care and rehabilitation under the program for a condition described in subsection (a)(1) who has filed a claim for disability under this title for such condition that has not been adjudicated by the Secretary at the time of the diagnosis of the veteran described in subsection (a)(1)—

“(A) shall agree to comply substantially with the treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan prescribed under subsection (d) for the veteran; and

“(B) may agree, at the election of the veteran, to the suspension by the Secretary of adjudication of such claim until completion by the veteran of the treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan.

“(3) As conditions for participation in the program under this section, a veteran seeking mental health care and rehabilitation under the program for one or more conditions described in subsection (a)(1) that have been determined by the Secretary to be service-connected shall agree as follows:

“(A) To comply substantially with the treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan prescribed under subsection (d) for the veteran.

“(B) Not to submit a claim for an increase in disability compensation under chapter 11 of this title for or based on such condition or conditions until the earlier of—

“(i) the end of the one-year period beginning on the date of the commencement of the program by the veteran; or

“(ii) the completion of the treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan prescribed under subsection (d) for the veteran.

“(d) Treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan.—(1) The Secretary shall provide for each veteran who participates in the program under this section a treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan for the post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, or related substance use disorder of such veteran as described in subsection (a)(1). The treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan shall be devised by appropriate clinicians and other appropriate personnel of the Department assigned for that purpose.

“(2) The treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan for a veteran under this subsection shall include such mental health care and rehabilitation as the clinicians and other personnel concerned consider appropriate for the remediation of the condition or conditions of the veteran covered by the plan.

“(3) The duration of each treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan under this subsection shall be such period as the clinician concerned considers appropriate.

“(e) Wellness stipends.—(1) Subject to paragraph (4), each veteran covered by subsection (c)(1) who participates in the program under this section shall be paid a stipend as follows:

“(A) $2,000 payable upon commencement of the treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan provided under subsection (d) for such veteran.

“(B) $1,500 payable every 90 days thereafter upon certification by the clinician treating such veteran under the program that such veteran is in substantial compliance with such treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan, except that the total amount payable to such veteran under this subparagraph may not exceed $6,000.

“(C) $3,000 payable at the earlier of—

“(i) the date of the conclusion of such treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan; or

“(ii) one year after the date of the commencement of such treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan by the veteran.

“(2) Subject to paragraph (4), each veteran covered by subsection (c)(2) who participates in the program under this section shall be paid a stipend as follows:

“(A) If such veteran agrees as provided in subparagraph (B) of subsection (c)(2), the stipend payable under paragraph (1).

“(B) If such veteran does not agree as provided in subparagraph (B) of subsection (c)(2), the stipend payable under paragraph (3).

“(3) Subject to paragraph (4), each veteran covered by subsection (c)(3) who participates in the program under this section shall be paid a stipend as follows:

“(A) $667 payable upon commencement of the treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan provided under subsection (d) for such veteran.

“(B) $500 payable every 90 days thereafter upon certification by the clinician treating such veteran under the program that such veteran is in substantial compliance with such treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan, except that the total amount payable to such veteran under this subparagraph may not exceed $2,000.

“(C) $1,000 payable at the earlier of—

“(i) the date of the conclusion of such treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan; or

“(ii) one year after the date of the commencement of such treatment regimen and rehabilitation plan by the veteran.

“(4) In the event a veteran is determined by the Secretary to have failed to comply with any condition agreed to by the veteran under subsection (c), payment to the veteran of any stipend otherwise authorized to be payable under this subsection shall cease.

“(f) Limitation on participation.—(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), a veteran may participate only once in the program under this section.

“(2)(A) A veteran may participate more than once in the program under this section if the Secretary determines that such additional participation in the program will assist the veteran in achieving the remediation of the condition or conditions addressed by participation in the program.

“(B) The total amount of stipend payable under subsection (e) to a veteran covered by subparagraph (A) may not exceed $11,000.”.

(b) Clerical amendment.—The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 17 of such title is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 1712B the following new item:


“1712C. Mental health care and rehabilitation for service-related post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, or related substance use disorder.”.