Congressional Record Statement of Senator Daniel K. Akaka
Mr. President, as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, concerns have been raised to me about a technical error in the health care reform bill that was recently passed, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, H.R. 3590. In drafting the PPACA, a provision was included which designates health care provided under VA's authority as meeting the minimum required health care coverage that an individual is required to maintain.
However, due to the way this exemption was worded, this definition may exclude children with spina bifida, who are seriously disabled and to whom VA provides reimbursement for comprehensive health care. The underlying bill gave authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to designate other care, which could include the VA spina bifida program, as meeting the definition of minimum essential coverage. This bill would simply clarify what was originally intended.
Chapter 18 of title 38 contains the Spina Bifida Health Care Program, which is a health benefit program administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs for Vietnam War and certain Korean War Veterans' birth children who have been diagnosed with spina bifida, except spina bifida occulta. The program provides reimbursement for medical services and supplies.
The legislation I introduce today corrects this small error. Additionally, this legislation would clarify that recipients of CHAMPVA would also be considered as meeting the requirement for minimum essential coverage.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.
March 24, 2010