Text: H.R.4166 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (12/01/2009)


111th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 4166


To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs relating to educational assistance for health professionals, and for other purposes.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

December 1, 2009

Mr. Rodriguez introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs relating to educational assistance for health professionals, 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 Health Professionals Educational Assistance Act of 2009”.

SEC. 2. Reauthorization of health professionals educational assistance scholarship program.

(a) In general.—Section 7618 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking “December 31, 1998” and inserting “December 31, 2014”.

(b) Expansion of eligibility requirements.—Section 7612(b)(2) is amended by striking “(under section” and all that follows through “or vocational nurse.” and inserting the following: “as an appointee under paragraph (1) or (3) of section 7401 of this title.”.

(c) Additional program requirements.—Subchapter II of chapter 76 of title 38, United States Code, as amended by subsections (a) and (b), is further amended—

(1) by redesignating section 7618 as section 7619; and

(2) by inserting after section 7617 the following new section:

§ 7618. Additional program requirements

“(a) Program modification.—Notwithstanding any provision of the subchapter, the Secretary shall carry out this subchapter by modifying the Scholarship Program in such a manner that the program and hiring processes are designed to fully employ scholarship program graduates as soon as possible, if not immediately, upon graduation and completion of necessary certifications, and to actively assist and monitor graduates to ensure certifications are obtained in a minimal amount of time following graduation.

“(b) Clinical tours.—The Secretary shall require participants in the Scholarship Program to perform clinical tours in assignments or locations determined by the Secretary while the participants are enrolled in the course of education or training for which the scholarship is provided.

“(c) Mentors.—The Secretary shall ensure that at the commencement of the period of obligated service of a participant in the Scholarship Program, the participant is assigned to a mentor who is employed in the same facility where the participant performs such service.”.

(d) Clerical amendments.—The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by striking the item relating to section 7618 and inserting the following new items:


“7618. Additional program requirements.

“7619. Expiration of program.”.

SEC. 3. Improvements to the Education Debt Reduction Program.

(a) Inclusion of employee retention as purpose of program.—Section 7681(2) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting “and retention” after “recruitment” the first time it appears.

(b) Expansion of eligibility.—Section 7682 of such title is amended—

(1) in subsection (a)(1), by striking “a recently appointed” and inserting “an”; and

(2) by striking subsection (c).

(c) Increase in maximum annual amount of payments.—Paragraph (1) of subsection (d) of section 7683 of such title is amended—

(1) by striking “$44,000” and inserting “$60,000”; and

(2) by striking “$10,000” and inserting “$12,000”.

(d) Exception to limitation on amount for certain positions.—Such subsection is further amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

“(3)(A) The Secretary may waive the limitations under paragraphs (1) and (2) in the case of a participant described in subparagraph (B). In the case of such a waiver, the total amount of education debt repayments payable to that participant is the total amount of the principal and the interest on the participant’s loans referred to in subsection (a).

“(B) A participant described in this subparagraph is a participant in the Scholarship Program who the Secretary determines serves in a position for which there is a shortage of qualified employee by reason of either the location or the requirements of the position.”.

SEC. 4. Loan repayment program for clinical researchers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

(a) In general.—The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, utilize the authorities available in section 487E of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 288–5) for the repayment of the principal and interest of educational loans of appropriately qualified health professionals who are from disadvantaged backgrounds in order to secure clinical research by such professionals for the Veterans Health Administration.

(b) Limitations.—The exercise by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs of the authorities referred to in paragraph (1) shall be subject to the conditions and limitations specified in paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 487E(a) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 288–5(a)(2) and (3)).

(c) Funding.—Amounts for the repayment of principal and interest of educational loans under this subsection shall be derived from amounts available to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the Veterans Health Administration for Medical Services.

SEC. 5. Inclusion of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in list of facilities eligible for assignment of participants in National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program.

(a) Inclusion of facilities.—The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall transfer up to $20,000,000 from accounts of the Veterans Health Administration to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to be used to include facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs on the list maintained by the Health Resources and Services Administration of facilities eligible for assignment of participants in the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program.

(b) Identification of eligible facilities.—The Secretary shall identify all medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics of the Department that may be eligible for assignment of participants in the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program. In making such identifications, the Secretary shall use the eligibility criteria used by the National Health Service Corps for the health professional shortage area designation.

(c) Application.—To be included on the list maintained by the Health Resources and Services Administration of facilities eligible for assignment of participants in the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program, each medical center or clinic identified by the Secretary under subsection (b) shall submit an application to the Health Resources and Services Administration.