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House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) chair Rep. Takano (D-CA) and ranking member Rep. Bost (R-IL) introduced HR 6411, the Supporting the Resilience of Our Nation’s Great Veterans Act, also known as the STRONG Act. The legislation, based on 22 other bills, addresses a wide range of issues within the VA, including:
• Expand eligibility for student veterans at Vet Centers.
• Improve culturally competent suicide prevention at VA medical centers for Native veterans.
• Increase mental health staffing and training at Vet Centers and VA medical facilities, including expanded use of peer support programs; and
• Improve the Veterans Crisis Line.
The bill would also expand collection of data on veterans’ use of inpatient mental health and substance use treatment. This information will hopefully guide the VA in expanding its programs in these areas.
VA Secretary McDonough called upon the committee to act on the VA Nurse and Physician Assistant RAISE Act, which would increase salary limitations for these clinicians.
The committee’s planned markup of both bills was postponed Thursday morning, as Takano brought another bill, HR 4673, the Ensuring Veterans’ Smooth Transition (EVEST) Act, to the House floor.
The House passed the EVEST Act on January 20th, which automatically enrolls eligible service members into the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system as they leave the military. The EVEST Act would automatically enroll service members in the VA as they leave the military, with the ability to opt-out. The hope is that simplifying enrollment in the VA will allow more new veterans to get the help they need faster. The first year after leaving the military is a period of especially high risk for suicide. The majority of veterans who die from suicide were not in VA care. Studies have shown that receiving VA care helps protect a veteran from suicide. In his statement on the floor, Takano stressed that this bill will smooth the transition between Department of Defense (DoD) and VA care. “We shouldn’t be trying to hide VA care from those who’ve earned it,” he proclaimed. The bill now moves to the Senate, where no timeline has been set for consideration.
AT-HOME COVID-19 TESTING
This week, the government’s site for ordering at-home COVID-19 tests went live. Every American household can order up to four tests. The next milestone will be the US Post Office delivering the millions of tests to individual mailboxes at the end of the month.
The Biden Administration now requires all private health insurance companies and group health plans to reimburse enrollees for up to eight at-home tests per month. Thus, a family of four people covered by a plan would be eligible for reimbursement for up to 32 tests per month that the family purchased commercially.
However, TRICARE, by statute, is only allowed to pay for tests ordered by an authorized provider or provided at a military treatment facility. Thus, according to Defense Health Agency Director LTG Place, TRICARE will not reimburse beneficiaries for over the counter tests. The TRICARE website indicates reimbursement could be available if the at-home test was ordered by a TRICARE provider for a medically necessary purpose, such as the existence of symptoms. This rules out ordering these tests for screening purposes.
Traditional fee for service (FFS) Medicare also does not allow for reimbursement of commercial at-home tests. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) advises beneficiaries that they can get free tests from community health centers and Medicare-certified health clinics. However, some Medicare Advantage plans may reimburse their enrollees for the tests.
2021-2022 Bills 117th Congress
Active Bills Since Last Report
H.R.1836 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021 Sponsor: Rep. Levin, Mike [D-CA-49] (Introduced 03/11/2021) Cosponsors: (9) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs | Senate - Veterans' Affairs Committee Report: H. Rept. 117-222 Latest Action: Senate - 01/13/2022 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
H.R.4673 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) EVEST Act Sponsor: Rep. Takano, Mark [D-CA-41] (Introduced 07/22/2021) Cosponsors: (0) Committees: House - Veterans' Affairs | Senate - Veterans' Affairs Committee Report: H. Rept. 117-223 Latest Action: Senate - 01/20/2022 Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
H.Res.860 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 1836) to amend title 38, United States Code, to ensure that the time during which members of the Armed Forces serve on active duty for training qualifies for educational assistance under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes; providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 4673) to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the automatic enrollment of eligible veterans in patient enrollment system of Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes; and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Perlmutter, Ed [D-CO-7] (Introduced 01/10/2022) Cosponsors: (0) Committees: House – Rules Committee Report: H. Rept. 117-225 Latest Action: House - 01/11/2022 Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.
S.1605 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 Sponsor: Sen. Scott, Rick [R-FL] (Introduced 05/13/2021) Cosponsors: (2) Committees: Senate - Energy and Natural Resources Latest Action: 12/27/2021 Became Public Law No: 117-81.
For any Federal Bill Details go to: Library of Congress - https://www.congress.gov/search
AL Legislative Center: http://capwiz.com/legion/issues/bills/
2022-2023 Bills – 219th Legislative Session
In January the 219th NJ Legislative Session began. 192 Bills, nearly all from the 218th Legislative Session have been re-introduced. There are no 219th Session Bills that have moved beyond the point of introduction this month.
A number of Bills from the 218th Legislative Session were signed into law or had other action in January 2022.
A1121 Upgrades certain crimes of misrepresenting oneself as member or veteran of US
Armed Forces or organized militia. Reported out of Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee with Amendments, 2nd Reading 11/8/2021. Recommitted to Assembly Appropriations Committee 12/13/2021, reported out of Assembly Committee, 2nd Reading. Passed by the Assembly 12/20/2021 (76-0-0). Identical bill S1871 reported from Senate Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee, 2nd Reading 2/11/2021 and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. Latest Action: 1/10/2022, Substituted by A1121, passed by the Senate (39-0), became P.L. 2021, c.435 1/18/2022.
A259 Provides civil service preference to military service members who did not serve in theater of operation but received campaign or expedition medal. 12/20/2021 passed by the Assembly (75-0-0). Identical bill S2224 reported from the Senate Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee, 2nd Reading 11/15/2021. Latest Action: Substituted for S2244, 1/10/2022, passed by the Senate (39-0), became P.L. 2021 , c.429 1/18/2022.
A4624 Allows active duty service members to provide document other than DD-214 when claiming veterans' preference for civil service. Identical bill S2817 6/3/2021 passed by the Senate (37-0). 2/20/2021 substituted by S2817. 12/20/2021 passed Assembly (69-0). Latest Action: 1/10/2022 approved P.L.2021, c.340.
A5694 Permits dependents of military member to enroll in school district in advance of military member's relocation to district. 12/20/2021 passed by the Assembly (75-0-0). Substituted for S3783, 1/10/2022, passed by the Senate (39-0). Latest Action: Became P.L 2021, c.470 1.18.2022.
A6012 Appropriates $500,000 for USS New Jersey Commissioning Committee to support commissioning of boat and assigned personnel. Passed by the Assembly (73-0-0) 12/20/2021. Identical bill S4076 reported from Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, 2nd Reading 11/8/2021. Substituted for S4076 1/10/2022, passed by the Senate (39-00. Latest Action: Became P.L. 2021, c.474 1/18/2022.
A6254 Requires DMVA to develop mobile application to provide guidance on available resources to veterans and their families. Latest Action: Introduced 1/6/2022, referred to the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs’ committee. Identical bill introduced in the Senate, referred to the Senate Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee 1/4/2022. No further action.
S4308 Establishes Helmets to Hardhats program in the DMVA; appropriates $400,000. Latest Action: Introduced in the Senate, referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee 1/4/2022. 1/10/2022 passed by the Senate (38-0). No further action.
For Details of NJ Legislative bills go to “NJ Legislature” - https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bill-search