CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, December 7, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 6076, the To Research, Evaluate, Assess and Treat Astronauts Act, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 6076 was introduced on September 20, 2016, by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) and was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, on September 21, 2016 by voice vote.
H.R. 6076 directs the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to establish a program that provides for the medical monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment of crewmembers for space flight-associated medical conditions. Specifically, the bill finds spaceflight may increase health risks, and to advance the goal of long-duration and exploration mission, there must be a better understanding of the health effects on astronauts. It establishes a Sense of Congress that data relating to the health of astronauts will be increasingly valuable to improving the understanding of diseases humans face on Earth, and expanded data should be used to further advance treatment and equipment used before, during, and after spaceflight. Finally, the legislation authorizes the Administrator to provide medical monitoring and diagnosis of former astronauts.
According to the findings, United States government astronauts participate in long-duration and exploration spaceflight missions and may experience increased health risks like vision impairment, bone demineralization, and behavioral health and performance risks. In addition, astronauts are exposed to high levels of radiation, and microgravity can result in acute and long-term health consequences like cancer and tissue degeneration.
Since the Administration currently provides medical monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment for United States government astronauts during active employment, NASA has requested statutory authority to provide medical monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment to former astronauts for psychological and medical conditions associated with human space flight.
An official Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate is not currently available. However, NASA currently spends approximately $400,000 annually on monitoring and diagnosis of former astronauts under the Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health Program. This legislation would extend the occupational surveillance and preventive medicine exams to all former astronauts throughout their lifetime and also provide treatment associated with spaceflight. NASA estimates that this legislation will increase the annual costs to NASA by an additional $400,000. However, NASA’s estimate did not take into account the Secondary Payer provision of the bill, which should mitigate any cost increases and may in fact result in lower annual costs than under existing Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health Program. The bill calls for NASA to provide a cost-estimate within 90 days of enactment.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1828.