Text: H.R.3471 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 114-256 (12/14/2016)

 
[114th Congress Public Law 256]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]



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Public Law 114-256
114th Congress

                                 An Act


 
 To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in 
the provision of automobiles and adaptive equipment by the Department of 
        Veterans Affairs. <<NOTE: Dec. 14, 2016 -  [H.R. 3471]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled <<NOTE: Veterans Mobility 
Safety Act of 2016.>> 
SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 38 USC 101 note.>>  SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Veterans Mobility Safety Act of 
2016''.
SEC. 2. PERSONAL SELECTIONS OF AUTOMOBILES AND ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT.

    Section 3903(b) of title 38, United States Code, is amended--
            (1) by striking ``Except'' and inserting ``(1) Except''; and
            (2) by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

    ``(2) The Secretary shall ensure that to the extent practicable an 
eligible person who is provided an automobile or other conveyance under 
this chapter is given the opportunity to make personal selections 
relating to such automobile or other conveyance.''.
SEC. 3. <<NOTE: 38 USC 3902 note.>>  COMPREHENSIVE POLICY FOR THE 
                    AUTOMOBILES ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT PROGRAM.

    (a) Comprehensive Policy.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
develop a comprehensive policy regarding quality standards for providers 
who provide modification services to veterans under the automobile 
adaptive equipment program.
    (b) Scope.--The policy developed under subsection (a) shall cover 
each of the following:
            (1) The Department of Veterans Affairs-wide management of 
        the automobile adaptive equipment program.
            (2) The development of standards for safety and quality of 
        equipment and installation of equipment through the automobile 
        adaptive equipment program, including with respect to the 
        defined differentiations in levels of modification complexity.
            (3) The consistent application of standards for safety and 
        quality of both equipment and installation throughout the 
        Department.
            (4) In accordance with subsection (c)(1), the certification 
        of a provider by a manufacturer if the Secretary designates the 
        quality standards of such manufacturer as meeting or exceeding 
        the standards developed under this section.
            (5) In accordance with subsection (c)(2), the certification 
        of a provider by a third party, nonprofit organization if the

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        Secretary designates the quality standards of such organization 
        as meeting or exceeding the standards developed under this 
        section.
            (6) The education and training of personnel of the 
        Department who administer the automobile adaptive equipment 
        program.
            (7) The compliance of the provider with the Americans with 
        Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.) when 
        furnishing automobile adaptive equipment at the facility of the 
        provider.
            (8) The allowance, where technically appropriate, for 
        veterans to receive modifications at their residence or location 
        of choice, including standards that ensure such receipt and 
        notification to veterans of the availability of such receipt.

    (c) Certification of Manufacturers and Third Party, Nonprofit 
Organizations.--
            (1) Certification of manufacturers.--The Secretary shall 
        approve a manufacturer as a certifying manufacturer for purposes 
        of subsection (b)(4), if the manufacturer demonstrates that its 
        certification standards meet or exceed the quality standards 
        developed under this section.
            (2) Certification of third party, nonprofit organizations.--
                    (A) In general.--The Secretary may approve two or 
                more private, nonprofit organizations as third party, 
                nonprofit certifying organizations for purposes of 
                subsection (b)(5).
                    (B) Limitation.--If at any time there is only one 
                third party, nonprofit certifying organization approved 
                by the Secretary for purposes of subsection (b)(5), such 
                organization shall not be permitted to provide 
                certifications under such subsection until such time as 
                the Secretary approves a second third party, nonprofit 
                certifying organization for purposes of such subsection.

    (d) <<NOTE: Deadlines.>>  Updates.--
            (1) Initial updates.--Not later than 1 year after the date 
        of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall update 
        Veterans Health Administration Handbook 1173.4, or any successor 
        handbook or directive, in accordance with the policy developed 
        under subsection (a).
            (2) Subsequent updates.--Not less frequently than once every 
        6 years thereafter, the Secretary shall update such handbook, or 
        any successor handbook or directive.

    (e) Consultation.--The Secretary shall develop the policy under 
subsection (a), and revise such policy under subsection (d), in 
consultation with veterans service organizations, the National Highway 
Transportation Administration, industry representatives, manufacturers 
of automobile adaptive equipment, and other entities with expertise in 
installing, repairing, replacing, or manufacturing mobility equipment or 
developing mobility accreditation standards for automobile adaptive 
equipment.
    (f) Conflicts.--In developing and implementing the policy under 
subsection (a), the Secretary shall--
            (1) minimize the possibility of conflicts of interest, to 
        the extent practicable; and
            (2) <<NOTE: Procedures.>>  establish procedures that ensure 
        against the use of a certifying organization referred to in 
        subsection (b)(5) that

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        has a financial conflict of interest regarding the certification 
        of an eligible provider.

    (g) Biennial Report.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than 1 year after the date on 
        which the Secretary updates Veterans Health Administration 
        Handbook 1173.4, or any successor handbook or directive, under 
        subsection (d), and not less frequently than once every other 
        year thereafter through 2022, the Secretary shall submit to the 
        Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the Committee 
        on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on 
        the implementation and facility compliance with the policy 
        developed under subsection (a).
            (2) <<NOTE: Assessment.>>  Contents.--The report required by 
        paragraph (1) shall include the following:
                    (A) <<NOTE: Plan.>>  A description of the 
                implementation plan for the policy developed under 
                subsection (a) and any revisions to such policy under 
                subsection (d).
                    (B) A description of the performance measures used 
                to determine the effectiveness of such policy in 
                ensuring the safety of veterans enrolled in the 
                automobile adaptive equipment program.
                    (C) An assessment of safety issues due to improper 
                installations based on a survey of recipients of 
                adaptive equipment from the Department.
                    (D) An assessment of the adequacy of the adaptive 
                equipment services of the Department based on a survey 
                of recipients of adaptive equipment from the Department.
                    (E) An assessment of the training provided to the 
                personnel of the Department with respect to 
                administering the program.
                    (F) An assessment of the certified providers of the 
                Department of adaptive equipment with respect to meeting 
                the minimum standards developed under subsection (b)(2).

    (h) Definitions.--In this section:
            (1) Automobile adaptive equipment program.--The term 
        ``automobile adaptive equipment program'' means the program 
        administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs pursuant to 
        chapter 39 of title 38, United States Code.
            (2) Veterans service organization.--The term ``veterans 
        service organization'' means any organization recognized by the 
        Secretary for the representation of veterans under section 5902 
        of title 38, United States Code.
SEC. 4. APPOINTMENT OF LICENSED HEARING AID SPECIALISTS IN 
                    VETERANS HEALTH ADMINISTRATION.

    (a) Licensed Hearing Aid Specialists.--
            (1) Appointment.--Section 7401(3) of title 38, United States 
        Code, is amended by inserting ``licensed hearing aid 
        specialists,'' after ``Audiologists,''.
            (2) Qualifications.--Section 7402(b)(14) of such title is 
        amended by inserting ``, hearing aid specialist'' after ``dental 
        technologist''.

    (b) <<NOTE: 38 USC 7401 note.>>  Requirements.--With respect to 
appointing hearing aid specialists under sections 7401 and 7402 of title 
38, United States Code, as amended by subsection (a), and providing 
services furnished by such specialists, the Secretary shall ensure 
that--

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            (1) a hearing aid specialist may only perform hearing 
        services consistent with the hearing aid specialist's State 
        license related to the practice of fitting and dispensing 
        hearing aids without excluding other qualified professionals, 
        including audiologists, from rendering services in overlapping 
        practice areas;
            (2) services provided to veterans by hearing aid specialists 
        shall be provided as part of the non-medical treatment plan 
        developed by an audiologist; and
            (3) the medical facilities of the Department of Veterans 
        Affairs provide to veterans access to the full range of 
        professional services provided by an audiologist.

    (c) <<NOTE: 38 USC 7401 note.>>  Consultation.--In determining the 
qualifications required for hearing aid specialists and in carrying out 
subsection (b), the Secretary shall consult with veterans service 
organizations, audiologists, otolaryngologists, hearing aid specialists, 
and other stakeholder and industry groups as the Secretary determines 
appropriate.

    (d) <<NOTE: Time periods.>>  Annual Report.--
            (1) <<NOTE: Effective date.>>  In general.--Not later than 1 
        year after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually 
        thereafter during the 5-year period beginning on the date of the 
        enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
        submit to Congress a report on the following:
                    (A) Timely access of veterans to hearing health 
                services through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
                    (B) Contracting policies of the Department with 
                respect to providing hearing health services to veterans 
                in facilities that are not facilities of the Department.
            (2) Timely access to services.--Each report shall, with 
        respect to the matter specified in paragraph (1)(A) for the 1-
        year period preceding the submittal of such report, include the 
        following:
                    (A) The staffing levels of audiologists, hearing aid 
                specialists, and health technicians in audiology in the 
                Veterans Health Administration.
                    (B) A description of the metrics used by the 
                Secretary in measuring performance with respect to 
                appointments and care relating to hearing health.
                    (C) The average time that a veteran waits to receive 
                an appointment, beginning on the date on which the 
                veteran makes the request, for the following:
                          (i) A disability rating evaluation for a 
                      hearing-related disability.
                          (ii) A hearing aid evaluation.
                          (iii) Dispensing of hearing aids.
                          (iv) Any follow-up hearing health appointment.
                    (D) The percentage of veterans whose total wait time 
                for appointments described in subparagraph (C), 
                including an initial and follow-up appointment, if 
                applicable, is more than 30 days.
            (3) Contracting policies.--Each report shall, with respect 
        to the matter specified in paragraph (1)(B) for the 1-year 
        period preceding the submittal of such report, include the 
        following:
                    (A) The number of veterans that the Secretary refers 
                to non-Department audiologists for hearing health care 
                appointments.

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                    (B) The number of veterans that the Secretary refers 
                to non-Department hearing aid specialists for follow-up 
                appointments for a hearing aid evaluation, the 
                dispensing of hearing aids, or any other purpose 
                relating to hearing health.

    Approved December 14, 2016.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 3471:
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HOUSE REPORTS: No. 114-709 (Comm. on Veterans' Affairs).
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 162 (2016):
            Sept. 12, considered and passed House.
            Nov. 17, considered and passed Senate, amended.
            Nov. 29, House concurred in Senate amendment.

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