S 1127

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 1127

To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish centers of excellence for rural health research, education, and clinical activities and to recognize the rural health resource centers in the Office of Rural Health, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

May 26, 2011

Mr. CONRAD introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs


A BILL

To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish centers of excellence for rural health research, education, and clinical activities and to recognize the rural health resource centers in the Office of Rural Health, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Veterans Rural Health Improvement Act of 2011'.

SEC. 2. CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE FOR RURAL HEALTH RESEARCH, EDUCATION, AND CLINICAL ACTIVITIES.

    (a) In General- Subchapter II of chapter 73 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

`SEC. 7330B. CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE FOR RURAL HEALTH RESEARCH, EDUCATION, AND CLINICAL ACTIVITIES.

    `(a) Establishment of Centers- The Secretary shall, through the Director of the Office of Rural Health, establish and operate at least one and not more than five centers of excellence for rural health research, education, and clinical activities, which shall--

      `(1) conduct research on the furnishing of health services in rural areas;

      `(2) develop specific models to be used by the Department in furnishing health services to veterans in rural areas;

      `(3) provide education and training for health care professionals of the Department on the furnishing of health services to veterans in rural areas; and

      `(4) develop and implement innovative clinical activities and systems of care for the Department for the furnishing of health services to veterans in rural areas.

    `(b) Use of Rural Health Resource Centers- In selecting locations for the establishment of centers of excellence under subsection (a), the Secretary may select a rural health resource center that meets the requirements of subsection (a).

    `(c) Geographic Dispersion- The Secretary shall ensure that the centers established under this section are located at health care facilities that are geographically dispersed throughout the United States.

    `(d) Funding- (1) There are authorized to be appropriated to the Medical Care Account and the Medical and Prosthetics Research Account of the Department of Veterans Affairs such sums as may be necessary for the support of the research and education activities of the centers operated under this section.

    `(2) There shall be allocated to the centers operated under this section, from amounts authorized to be appropriated to the Medical Care Account and the Medical and Prosthetics Research Account by paragraph (1), such amounts as the Under Secretary of Health considers appropriate for such centers. Such amounts shall be allocated through the Director of the Office of Rural Health.

    `(3) Activities of clinical and scientific investigation at each center operated under this section--

      `(A) shall be eligible to compete for the award of funding from funds appropriated for the Medical and Prosthetics Research Account; and

      `(B) shall receive priority in the award of funding from such account to the extent that funds are awarded to projects for research in the care of rural veterans.'.

    (b) Clerical Amendment- The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 73 of such title is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 7330A the following new item:

      `7330B. Centers of excellence for rural health research, education, and clinical activities.'.

    (c) Recognition of Rural Health Resource Centers in Office of Rural Health- Section 7308 of such title is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

    `(d) Rural Health Resource Centers- (1) There are in the Office veterans rural health resource centers that serve as satellite offices for the Office.

    `(2) The veterans rural health resource centers have purposes as follows:

      `(A) To improve the understanding of the Office of the challenges faced by veterans living in rural areas.

      `(B) To identify disparities in the availability of health care to veterans living in rural areas.

      `(C) To formulate practices or programs to enhance the delivery of health care to veterans living in rural areas.

      `(D) To develop special practices and products for the benefit of veterans living in rural areas and for implementation of such practices and products in the Department systemwide.'.

END