H.R. 3219: Veterans' Insurance and Health Care Improvements Act

H.R. 3219

Veterans' Insurance and Health Care Improvements Act

Date
July 28, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

H.R. 3219 is being considered under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) on July 15, 2009.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3219 would make permanent a current temporary extension of Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance coverage for totally disabled veterans. The bill allows for veterans under the age of 60 to increase their coverage in increments up to $25,000 during each five-year period (not to exceed $400,000). The bill also establishes a priority level for veterans awarded the Medal of Honor, equivalent to the level of Purple Heart recipients. The bill provides permanent authority for Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care to Vietnam-era herbicide-exposed veterans and Persian Gulf War veterans who have insufficient medical evidence to establish a service-connected disability.

The bill prohibits the Secretary from collecting copayments from catastrophically disabled veterans for the receipt of VA hospital care or medical services. The bill establishes two new positions within the Veterans Health Administration-a Director of Physician Assistant Services, and a Committee on Care of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury.

The bill establishes in the Treasury the Qualified World War II Veterans Equity Compensation Fund to provide monthly payments of $1,000 to former active-duty World War II veterans who have not received benefits under the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944.

The bill would also prohibit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs from collecting a housing loan fee from any veteran who, but for the receipt of active service pay, would be entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability.

Background

On May 7, 2009, the House passed H.R. 23, the Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act of 2009, which set up what is effectively a service pension of $1,000 a month to be paid to WWII Merchant Marines who have veterans' status. This bill establishes in the Treasury the Qualified World War II Veterans Equity Compensation Fund to provide monthly payments of $1,000 to former active-duty World War II veterans who have not received benefits under the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944.

Cost

According to CBO, H.R. 3219 would affect several programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including those providing medical care and insurance and would establish a new fund to pay benefits to qualified World War II veterans. CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 3219 would cost $895 million over the 2010-2014 period, assuming appropriation of the specified and estimated amounts. Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.