Congressional Record Statement of Senator Daniel K. Akaka
Madam 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, whichis a health benefit program administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide reimbursement for comprehensive health care for children with spina bifida who are born to veterans of the Vietnam War and to some veterans who served in Korea during specified times, as well as children of women Vietnam veterans with certain birth defects. The program provides reimbursement for medical services and supplies.
My legislation 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. This legislation is currently supported by 59 cosponsors, including my friend from North Carolina, and the ranking member on my Committee, Senator Burr. Additionally, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans , and the Military Officers Association of America have endorsed this bill.
Thank you, Madam President and I thank my colleagues for their support in making this small but important clarification for veterans.
March 25, 2010