SIMPSON AUTHORS VETERAN
JOB TRAINING LEGISLATION
Contact: Luci Willits 208-334-1953
"The sole purpose of this bill is long-term, sustained employment for America's veterans who risked their lives protecting our freedoms."
- Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, Chairman of the House Veterans Benefits Subcommittee, has authored legislation to enhance veterans' job training programs.
"The Jobs for Veterans Act" (H.R. 4015) is a bipartisan bill also cosponsored by Veterans Benefits Subcommittee ranking member, Silvestre Reyes and full Veterans Committee Chairman Chris Smith and ranking member Lane Evans. A hearing in the House Veterans' Benefits Subcommittee will be held on April 18 to discuss the bill.
"The sole purpose of this bill is long-term, sustained employment for America's veterans who risked their lives protecting our freedoms," Simpson said. "This bill is about providing accountability and incentives for state Job Service programs to secure jobs for veterans."
Simpson's legislation reforms an outdated system and enhances current job training programs. The legislation provides priority of service to veterans in any job-training program funded in whole or in part by the Department of Labor. The bill also requires the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training to establish and implement a comprehensive performance accountability system to measure the performance of veterans' employment and training staff funded through about $200 million in annual staffing grants to the states.
Accountability is a major priority for the bill. States that provide the highest quality of services or that have made significant improvements in service will receive more funding. States will have more flexibility in managing the grants that staff the Disabled Veteran Outreach Program and Local Veterans Employment Representatives Programs. This flexibility will include whether staff is full or part-time and where they are located.
The bill also requires the Secretary of Labor to establish a one-stop job training and placement service for military personnel and veterans.
"Whether the service member is stationed at the 38th parallel in Korea, on a nuclear sub in the South Pacific, or at a base right here in the United States, this initiative will put jobs or job training right at their finger tips," Simpson said.
Simpson's legislation establishes the President's National Hire Veterans Committee to furnish employers with information about the training and skills of veterans and disabled veterans. The Committee also will facilitate the hiring of veterans and disabled veterans through America's Career Kit National Labor Exchange.
"Each state will have a Committee largely made up of employers -- that's what will make the Committee work," Simpson said. "Veterans are a unique national resource and hiring veterans is a good business decision -- period."
Calls Conditions that Led
to Nasal Myiasis in Comatose patients "Horrible and Completely Intolerable"
ARMED FORCES NEWS
LONG TERM CARE PREMIUMS
The Office of Personnel Management has established initial premiums for the
Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program. The rates are effective during the
early enrollment program, which began March 25 and continues through May 15.
Pre- packaged policies can be purchased for three- or five-year periods,
with daily benefits of $100 or $150. Individuals wishing greater flexibility
can purchase daily benefits in $25 increments ranging from $50 to $300. For
persons aged 18-30, premiums are $8.40 per month or $32.00 per month,
depending on the type of inflation protection chosen, for a policy that
offers a three-year, daily benefit of $100 and a 90-day waiting period
before benefits begin. After age 30, premiums will vary based on age at
purchase, amount of coverage, length of coverage and other factors. To
request an early enrollment kit, call 1-800-582-3337.
LTC Enrollment And Eligibility Guidelines
The Long Term Care early enrollment period (previous item) is most appropriate for individuals who are better informed about long-term care insurance, says the Office of Personnel Management. OPM urges those who are not familiar with this insurance product to use the early enrollment period to decide which, if any, long-term care insurance best fits their needs. Additional plan options, including an unlimited benefit, will be available during the regular open enrollment, which runs from July 1 through December 31, 2002. According to OPM, the following are eligible for LTC:
Federal employees and members of the uniformed services, including employees of the U.S. Postal Service and Tennessee Valley Authority, but not including employees of the District of Columbia government.
Federal annuitants, surviving spouses of deceased federal or postal employees or annuitants who are receiving a federal survivor annuity, individuals receiving compensation from the Department of Labor who are separated from the federal service, members or former members of the uniformed services entitled to retired or retainer pay, and retired military reservists at the time they qualify for an annuity (also known as gray area reservists). Retired employees of the D.C. government are not included.
Current spouses of employees and annuitants (including surviving spouses of members and retired members of the uniformed services who are receiving a survivor annuity from the uniformed services).
Adult children (at least 18 years old, including adopted children and stepchildren) of living employees and annuitants.
Parents, parents-in-law, and step-parents of living employees (but not of annuitants).
RECAP OF MEETING WITH
members of the Hill Country Veterans Council - Jack Ledford, Bob Weinberg,
Joe Benham, Joe Strange, Doke Nibblett, Bill Stacy and Walter Schellhase,
met with Mr. Jose Coronado and his staff of about 20 to discuss several
issue as they relate to the Kerrville Hospital. Following is the recap of
As part of the quarterly meeting with
you and your staff, the Hill Country Veterans Council would like to discuss
several specific areas of concern as they relate to the Kerrville Division.
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Action E-List Members
SUBJ: URGE YOUR SENATORS TO
COSPONSOR AND SUPPORT S. 2079
Improving the appeals
processes to make them work for, not against, veterans is one of the DAV's
top priorities. Responding to recommendations of the DAV and The Independent
Budget, published each year by the DAV, AMVETS, the Paralyzed Veterans, and
Veterans of Foreign Wars, Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman John
D. "Jay" Rockefeller, IV (D-WV), introduced S. 2079 to make four very
important changes in the law governing appeals. S. 2079 will require the
Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to enforce the rule that VA must give
veterans the benefit of the doubt where the evidence neither proves nor
disproves the claim. The bill will also expand the powers of the Court of
Appeals for the Federal Circuit to reverse decisions of the Court of Appeals
for Veterans Claims and will empower the Federal Circuit to set aside
disability rating schedule provisions that are arbitrary and capricious or
contrary to law. S. 2079 will authorize the Court of Appeals for Veterans
Claims to order the Government to pay fees to non-attorneys who successfully
represent appellants, under the same terms that the Court now awards fees to
attorneys. These changes will improve the prospects for successful appeals
by veterans seeking remedies for erroneous denials of the benefits they
rightfully deserve. In addition, because current law somewhat shields VA
decisions from full review and this bill will require the courts to make a
more probing review, it will require VA to make better decisions. It will
improve the quality of decisions by VA.
ARMED FORCES NEWS
Under the present law, military retirees, unlike any
other retirees, generally must forfeit one dollar of retired pay for each
dollar of VA disability they are awarded. In a major step to eliminate this
inequity, the House approved $581 million in the fiscal 2003 budget, with a
total five-year funding of $6.1 billion. Although this fell far short of the
$2.9 billion needed annually for full concurrent receipt, the action
represented a historic first step. Following the House's action, the Senate
Budget Committee has approved a similar measure. The next move is up to the
full Senate, which might consider the issue this week. If it does, Sen.
Harry Reid, D-Nev., is expected to propose an amendment that would add
funding to fully eliminate the inequity. Several veterans' organizations are
alerting their members to contact their senators urging passage of the Reid
amendment when it is presented.
MY SAN ANTONIO
Associated Press Web Posted : 04/15/2002 12:00 AM
More than 100 doctors employed by
the federal government have been convicted of crimes or disciplined by state
medical boards, including one physician now treating veterans who was
convicted of helping a terrorist group, an Associated Press review of
medical licenses has found. Federal agencies are required to check the
backgrounds of doctors they employ, but are not prohibited from hiring those
with criminal records, revoked licenses or medical punishments. All a doctor
needs is a medical license valid in one state to get a government job. Dr.
Suzy Melkonian, who is paid $48 an hour as a blood cancer specialist at a
Veterans Affairs hospital in Los Angeles, was convicted 21 years ago in
Switzerland of extorting money for a group that staged terrorist bombings
and assassinations. Melkonian was reprimanded five years ago by California
for failing to disclose her Swiss conviction when applying for a medical
license. Despite Melkonian's conviction, VA managers believed her training
and patient care were good and that "she'd be a qualified member of our
staff," said Dr. Dean Norman, chief of staff for the Los Angeles VA
hospital. An AP review of medical board disciplinary records identified at
least 118 federal doctors who have worked for the government in the past two
years who were convicted of crimes or punished by state authorities for
offenses ranging from sex and drug abuse to incompetence. Three of those
doctors have been fired in recent months, including one whose conviction for
attempted child molestation should have legally barred him from getting his
job, and two who had relapses of conduct that prompted earlier punishments.
In all, 0.5 percent of the more than 20,800 doctors working for the federal
government have been convicted of crimes or punished, records show. In the
profession nationally, the rate is 2.6 percent. But advocates say the
government's choice of doctors should be better than the public at large,
particularly because federal physicians serve the vulnerable, the
underprivileged and those who have fought to keep the country safe. "How
many times do we have to get (expletive)? Nobody seems to care all that
much," said Sherri Siegle, a Choctaw nurse who worked for the Indian Health
Service. Siegle said she checked the backgrounds of doctors at her Oklahoma
hospital after seeing them make mistakes, and found several who had been
previously punished. Fourteen punished doctors work for IHS. Punished
federal physicians have treated veterans, soldiers, American Indians,
astronauts and federal prisoners. They also have researched drug safety,
investigated new addiction treatments, and been agency medical advisers.
They include: At least five reprimanded for neglecting patients who died.11
convicted criminals, including doctors who ordered child pornography,
defrauded Medicaid, or stole drugs from the VA.18 punished for sexual
misconduct, including a doctor disciplined for having sex with five
patients.37 punished for drug violations, including three whose drug use
forced them to leave surgeries and three prison doctors who now treat
prisoners for drug abuse and other ailments. The majority - 75 - work for
the VA, the largest federal health care agency. Some veterans' groups want
VA Secretary Anthony Principi to investigate. "If this is true - and these
are some serious allegations - I assume the secretary will do something
about it," said Dick Flanagan, a spokesman for the group AMVETS. Federal
officials acknowledge screening processes are not always thorough. Dr.
Thomas Craig, the VA's chief medical officer, said overworked hospital
officials sometimes can miss problems or fail to check a doctor's background
thoroughly. The VA has a new computer system to assist background checks. Melkonian and other punished doctors said they told
supervisors about their pasts. Melkonian was convicted in 1981 of extorting
about $6,000 from a Swiss businessman to help the now-defunct Armenian
Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, according to California medical
board records and news reports. ASALA, identified by the U.S. government as
a terrorist group, claimed responsibility for scores of bombings and
assassinations, mostly of Turkish targets. Melkonian was arrested in 1980
after an explosion in her Geneva hotel room led police to a partly assembled
bomb. Afterward, ASALA and a splinter group began a bombing campaign aimed
at freeing her and an ASALA leader. Melkonian denied being a member of the
terrorist group. The Swiss court convicted her of extortion, gave her an
18-month suspended sentence, and expelled her. "These events have nothing
whatsoever to do with my practice of medicine," Melkonian, 46, said in a
written statement. 04/15/2002
ARMED FORCES NEWS
Because of a 100-year-old law, military retirees, unlike retirees from any other occupation or profession, must forfeit one dollar of retired pay for each dollar of VA disability they are awarded. As a down payment to correct this inequity, the House approved $581 million for concurrent receipt in fiscal 2003, with a total five-year funding of $6.1 billion. Members of The Military Coalition and some House Armed Services Committee aides generally support a plan to distribute this to the most severely disabled - those with 60 percent disabilities or more. Meanwhile, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is expected to propose a plan to fully fund concurrent receipt for all disabled
retirees. This would cost some $3 billion in 2003 and $20 billion over the next five years. Major military associations are saying that fiscal 2003 is the year to eliminate the injustice of this outdated law.
ARMED FORCES NEWS
Last October a claims processing task force reported that Department of Veterans Affairs veteran services representatives working on claims had to understand and perform more than 10,000 separate tasks. All incoming claims were placed in the queue and worked when their turn came, regardless of their complexity. In response, the VA is conducting a pilot test using specialty teams. One team will separate claims that can be processed in a day or two and will route more complex claims to specialized teams, such as appeals, or award action teams. Another specialized team, a public contact team, will provide customer service to veterans who walk in, write or e-mail the office about their claim.
CORPUS CHRISTI NAVY HOSPITAL
There is a move by Representative Solomon P. Ortiz to have the Corpus Christi Navy Hospital turned over to VA to run even though the VA has an Outpatient Clinic in Corpus Christi. This clinic has a patient load of 4670 and is operating at 126% capacity.
The only thing this move by Representative Ortiz will do is take dollars from Kerrville and Audie Murphy. This Navy Hospital now serves at least four (4) other Navy facilities on the Texas Gulf Coast. Where will the active duty Navy personnel go for medical service if this facility is closed? Will the VA be asked to provide this service taking more dollars from Kerrville and Audie Murphy?
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