A flurry of activity surrounding the VA and veterans has hit the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives already this year. Here’s a rundown:
H.Res.198 — 115th Congress (2017-2018) Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1259) to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the removal or demotion of employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs based on performance or misconduct, and for other purposes; providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1367) to improve the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes; and providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1181) to amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the conditions under which certain persons may be treated as adjudicated mentally incompetent for certain purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Buck, Ken [R-CO-4] (Introduced 03/15/2017) Cosponsors: (0) Committees: House – Rules Committee Reports: H. Rept. 115-39 Latest Action: 03/16/2017 Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. (All Actions)
This bill passed the House.
H.R. 467, The VA Scheduling Accountability Act, introduced by Rep. Jackie Walorski, would require VA medical center directors to certify annually that their facility is in compliance with the scheduling directive (or any successor directive that replaces it), prohibit VA from waiving certification, and require VA to report to Congress on individual medical facilities’ compliance. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.
H.R. 1005, the introduced by Rep. Lee Zeldin, would direct VA to enter into an agreement or a contract with state veterans homes to pay for adult day health care for a veteran eligible for, but not receiving, nursing home care. Click here for more information.
H.R. 1162, The No Hero Left Untreated Act, introduced by Rep. Stephen Knight, would require VA to carry out a one-year pilot program at up to two VA medical facilities to provide access to magnetic EEG/EKG-guided resonance therapy to veterans with PTSD, TBI, MST, chronic pain or opiate addiction for up to 50 veterans. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.
H.R. 1329, The Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2017, introduced by DAMA Chairman Mike Bost and Ranking Member Elizabeth Esty, would increase the rates of compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities as well as the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans as of December 1st, 2017. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.
H.R. 1545, The VA Prescription Data Accountability Act, introduced by Rep. Annie Kuster, would clarify current law to stipulate that VHA is required to disclose information to state controlled substance monitoring programs for anyone – veteran or non-veteran – who is prescribed these medications through VA. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.
H.R. 1725, The Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act of 2017, introduced by Ranking Member Walz, as amended, seeks to reduce the number of unnecessary disability examinations by requiring additional information be provided to Congress regarding VA’s use of private medical evidence in support of claims for disability compensation. Click here for more information. Read the bill here.
H.R. 2288, The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 would create three “lanes” for veterans’ appeals, including the “Local Higher Level Review Lane” in which an adjudicator reviews the same evidence considered by the original claims processor; the “New Evidence Lane,” in which the veteran could submit new evidence for review and have a hearing; and the “Board Lane,” in which jurisdiction for the appeal would transfer immediately to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. The bill would give the Secretary the authority to test the new system prior to full implementation and would allow some veterans already going through the appeals process to opt into the new system. It would also require VA to provide a comprehensive plan for how the new system will be implemented and a subsequent certification by the Secretary that the department is prepared to roll-out the reform. Lastly, the bill would require the Secretary to submit periodic reports to Congress, including information on how many appeals are pending in both the modernized system and the legacy system. This legislation was sponsored by every member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Click here for more information. Read the bill text here.
House Bill Seeks to Increase Contract Participation of Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
The Ensuring Veteran Enterprise Participation in Strategic Sourcing Act would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to work with GSA to provide SDVOSBs and VOSBs with contracting opportunities they are entitled to under the law, the office of Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tennessee) said Wednesday.“This legislation will hold the VA accountable for seeking out veteran-owned small businesses for contracting opportunities as Congress intended,” said Dunn.
In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kingdomware Technologies, an SDVOSB, that a VA contract must be a small business set-aside if there are more than two small businesses than can meet contract requirements, as mandated by the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006.
The bill seeks to address a loophole identified during the case and support the Supreme Court’s decision.