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September 21, 2000

H.R. 5109 - Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Personnel Act of 2000
(Rep. Stearns (R) Florida and 46 cosponsors)

The Administration would support H.R. 5109, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care Personnel Act, if it is amended to resolve the Administration's concerns with the bill. H.R. 5109 would make several changes in personnel policy for VA health care professionals and adjustments to the administration of VA medical services.

Specifically, the Administration will work with Congress to amend provisions in H.R. 5109 that would:

  • Create a pilot program shifting veteran medical services from VA to the private sector. The proposed pilot would change VA from a provider to an insurer since VA would be reimbursing private health care providers. While the Administration expects that the current infrastructure realignment study, championed by the Administration and Congress, will include options whereby VA enters into sharing contracts with private providers in some areas, we do not support moving to a system where they turn from a provider role for veterans to an insurer role. This pilot program would jeopardize VA's ability to manage veterans' care, undermine the ability of the VA system to maintain specialized medical services, and create a disparate eligibility status based on a veteran's third party insurance coverage. This provision should be deleted.

  • Increase special pay (based on post-graduate training, location, speciality, etc.) for VA dentists. VA is preparing to conduct the statutorily-mandated quadrennial study and report to Congress on special pay. It will be conducted next year and will provide a comprehensive review of the adequacy of pay levels for physicians and dentists. Any appropriate adjustments to VA dentist pay should be based on the analysis of this study.

Pay-As-You-Go Scoring

H.R. 5109 would affect direct spending; therefore, it is subject to the pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) requirements of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. OMB's estimate is under development. The Administration will work with Congress to ensure that an unintended sequester does not occur.