We reported last week that the House finished up work on its version of the defense authorization bill, and included a list of a number of important amendments.
Several additional amendments were approved after our legislative update went out, including provisions that would:
- Extend foreclosure protections to servicemembers serving in contingency operations, surviving spouses of servicemembers who die from service-connected causes, and veterans with a 100% disability rating
- Provide behavioral health coverage to dependent children with autism through TRICARE
- Establish an online system for reservists to track their active-duty service and calculate the amount of early reserve retirement credit awarded for each tour of duty
- Expand a pilot program to help servicemembers transition by providing civilian credentialing, licensing, and certification for their military skills
- Establish a working group to improve pediatric care through TRICARE
On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved funding for VA and DoD health care programs for FY2013, including an integrated electronic health record system linking VA and DoD health records.
The legislation would provide $104 million for the project. The Committee language directs the VA to submit a plan with deadlines and encourages the departments to use open-source architecture for developing the system.
The bill provides $71.9 billion in discretionary funding for fiscal 2013 — $227 million more than fiscal 2012, but $465.9 million less than the president’s request. The bill also provides $54.5 billion in advanced fiscal 2014 appropriations for veterans’ medical care.
An integrated health record system between DoD and the VA would be a major step toward providing seamless transition for servicemembers and veterans, but previous attempts have failed to live up to expectations.