Summary: S.7 — 96th Congress (1979-1980)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Conference report filed in Senate (05/24/1979)

(Conference report filed in Senate, S. Rept. 96-195)

Veterans' Health Care Amendments of 1979 - =Title I: Health Services Programs= - Provides that medical examinations for service-connected disability compensation claims be included in the third priority category for veterans' outpatient care.

Limits dental services for non-service-connected dental conditions by providing that such services may be furnished only to the extent that dental facilities are not needed to provide dental care for: (1) service-connected dental conditions; (2) conditions associated with and aggravating a service-connected disability; (3) totally-disabled veterans; (4) veterans who were prisoners of war for six months or more; (5) non-service-connected dental care which began while a veteran was hospitalized; and (6) Spanish-American and Indian War veterans.

Extends outpatient dental care benefits eligibility to all war veterans who were prisoners of war for more than six months or who have 100 percent service-connected disabilities.

Requires the Administrator of the Veterans' Administration to submit a report to the appropriate committees of the Congress justifying expenditures for outpatient dental care by contract when such expenditures exceed the fiscal year 1978 level. Extends eligibility for contract outpatient dental care to veterans who were prisoners of war for at least six months.

Provides for the establishment of a program of readjustment counseling for any veteran who served on active duty during the Vietnam era who requests such counseling within two years from discharge or within two years after the date of enactment of this Act. Requires the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs, in the event of another declaration of war, to recommend to the Congress within six months of such declaration whether the readjustment counseling program should be extended to veterans of such war. Authorizes necessary follow-up mental health services, including services for family members of eligible veterans. Directs the Veterans' Administration (VA) to provide upon request referral services for non-VA mental health services to former service personnel not eligible for such readjustment counseling because of an other than honorable discharge.

Grants the Administrator the same authority to enter into contracts with private facilities for the furnishing of counseling and related mental health services to Vietnam-era veterans as is available to the Administrator to contract for the furnishing of treatment to veterans with 100-percent service-connected disabilities incurred in combat. Requires the Administrator to approve the quality and effectiveness of the program operated by such facility before he contracts for the furnishing of such counseling or services to an eligible veteran. Directs the Administrator to cooperate with the Secretary of Defense in notifying veterans of potential eligibility under such readjustment counseling program.

Authorizes the Administrator to conduct a five-year pilot program for the treatment and rehabilitation in community-based treatment facilities of veterans with alcohol or drug dependencies. Requires the Administrator to report not later than March 31, 1983, to the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs regarding the first three years of such pilot program. Authorizes the Administrator, in cooperation with the Secretary of Labor and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, to help rehabilitated former addict veterans find employment. Directs the VA to provide upon request referral services for non-VA services to former service personnel not eligible for such alcohol and drug treatment services because of an other than honorable discharge.

Provides that active service military personnel with an alcohol or drug dependence cannot be transferred to a VA treatment center without such person's written request, and that such request can only be made during the last 30 days of enlistment.

Authorizes the Administrator to establish a five-year pilot program of preventive health services for certain veterans with a 50 percent or more disability rating, and for veterans receiving treatment involving a service-connected disability. Requires the Administrator to report annually to the Congress with regard to such program.

Authorizes the Administrator to provide hospital care, nursing home care, and medical services in VA facilities in the United States for new Philippine Scouts and Commonwealth Army veterans for service-connected disabilities.

=Title II: Contract-Care Programs= - Provides: (1) that if specified conditions for providing contract outpatient care are satisfied veterans eligible for regular aid-and-attendance or household benefits may be provided such care if, on the basis of a medical examination, it is determined that such medical condition precludes proper treatment in a VA or other Government facility; and (2) for the VA to contract for diagnostic services necessary to determine eligibility for treatment at independent VA outpatient clinics.

Requires an annual report to the appropriate Congressional committees regarding the VA's contract care authority.

Authorizes the Administrator to contract with veterans' organizations recognized by the VA to furnish emergency medical services at the national conventions of such organizations.

=Title III: Construction, Alteration, Lease, and Acquisition of Medical Facilities= - Directs the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs, in carrying out his duties under this Act: (1) to provide for the construction and acquisition of medical facilities equitably throughout the United States with due regard for the comparative urgency of the need for each particular facility; and (2) to give due consideration to excellence of architecture and design.

States that no appropriation shall be made to construct, alter, lease, or otherwise acquire any medical facility which involves a total expenditure of more than $2,000,000 unless such construction, alteration, lease, or acquisition is first approved by resolution adopted by such committees.

Stipulates that no appropriation shall be made to lease any space at an average annual rental of more than $500,000 for use for a medical facility unless such lease is first approved by resolutions adopted by such committees.

Directs the Administrator to submit a prospectus, including cost estimates and facility description, with regard to the funding of any such proposed medical facility. States that if funds for such facility are not appropriated within one year after approval, either of such committees may rescind approval.

Enumerates structural requirements for any medical facility constructed pursuant to this Act.

Directs the Administrator to submit to Congress an annual report regarding the construction, alteration, and leasing of medical facilities. Requires such report to contain: (1) a five-year plan for those medical facilities most in need of construction, replacement and alteration; (2) a priority list of at least ten such hospitals; and (3) general plans for each medical facility in the five-year plan or the list. Stipulates that the first such report shall be submitted by September 1, 1979, and each succeeding report shall be submitted not later than June 30 of each year.

Authorizes the Administrator to establish and operate not less than 125,000 beds for the furnishing of nursing home care to eligible veterans in facilities over which the Administrator has direct jurisdiction.

Authorizes the Administrator to: (1) carry out construction or alteration of medical facilities pursuant to this Act; (2) make contributions to local authorities for safe ingress or egress to such facilities; (3) construct and operate parking facilities; (4) enter into agreements for the mutual use of Armed Forces facilities; (5) partially relinquish, on behalf of the United States, legislative jurisdiction to the State in which such medical facility may be located; and (6) use certain federally owned facilities. Authorizes the President to accept any building or grounds suitable for the use of disabled persons.

=Title IV: Benefits Payable to Persons Residing Outside the United States= - States that in order for VA benefits to be paid on behalf of a child adopted and residing outside the United States, such child must: (1) be under age 18 at the time of adoption; (2) be receiving at least one half of its annual support from the veteran; (3) not be residing with its natural parent unless the natural parent is the veteran's spouse; and (4) be residing with the veteran except in certain specified circumstances.

States that after the veteran's death such an adoption would be recognized for veterans' benefits purposes only if the veteran was entitled to or receiving a dependent's allowance for the child at any time during the year before such veteran's death, if such requirements were met for at least one year prior to the veteran's death.

Requires the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to carry out a study of veterans' benefits payable to persons residing outside the 50 States and the District of Columbia.

=Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions= - Authorizes the payment by non-Federal agencies, organizations, and individuals for travel expenses of certain employees of the VA's Department of Medicine and Surgery in connection with their official duties in specified circumstances.

Transfers the authority to appoint the Deputy Administrator of Veterans' Affairs from the Administrator to the President by and with the advice of the Senate.

Amends specified provisions relating to benefits for overseas VA employees and the salary schedule of the Department of Medicine and Surgery.

Directs the Administrator of the Veterans Administration to report to appropriate Congressional committees on the effectiveness of the home health services program for veterans with a service-connected disability of total blindness.