The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
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At A Glance
 
 
Public Law
: Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016
: 114-315
Session: 114th Congress (Second Session)


The following are excerpts, highlighted in red, from the final legislation and/or conference report which contain references to and studies for The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (Pound signs [##] between passages denote the deletion of unrelated text.)

HR6416 Roe (R-Tenn.) 12/10/16
Enrolled (finally passed both houses)
To amend title 38, United States Code, to make certain improvements in the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
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SUBTITLE C—TOXIC EXPOSURE

Sec. 631. Definitions.

Sec. 632. National Academy of Medicine assessment on research relating to the descendants of individuals with toxic exposure.

Sec. 633. Advisory board on research relating to health conditions of descendants of veterans with toxic exposure while serving in the Armed Forces.

Sec. 634. Research relating to health conditions of descendants of veterans with toxic exposure while serving in the Armed Forces.


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TITLE I—DISABILITY COMPENSATION MATTERS


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SEC. 110. INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF PROCESS BY WHICH DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS ASSESSES IMPAIRMENTS THAT RESULT FROM TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY FOR PURPOSES OF AWARDING DISABILITY COMPENSATION.

(a) Agreement.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall seek to enter into an agreement with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to perform the services covered by this section.

(2) TIMING.—The Secretary shall seek to enter into the agreement described in paragraph (1) not later than 9 months after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(b) Comprehensive Review.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Under an agreement between the Secretary and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine under this section, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shall conduct a comprehensive review of examinations furnished by the Department of Veterans Affairs to individuals who submit claims to the Secretary for compensation under chapter 11 of title 38, United States Code, for traumatic brain injury to assess the impairments of such individuals relating to such injury.

(2) ELEMENTS.—The comprehensive review carried out pursuant to paragraph (1) shall include the following:

(A) A determination of the adequacy of the tools and protocols used by the Department to provide examinations described in paragraph (1).

(B) A determination of which credentials are necessary for health care specialists and providers to perform such portions of such examinations that relate to an assessment of all disabling effects.

(3) GROUP OF EXPERIENCED HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS.—In carrying out the comprehensive review pursuant to paragraph (1), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shall convene a group of relevant experts, including experts in clinical neuropsychology, psychiatry, physiatry, neurosurgery, and neurology.

(c) Report.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 540 days after the date on which the Secretary enters into an agreement under subsection (a)(1), the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives a report on the comprehensive review conducted under this section.

(2) ELEMENTS.—The report submitted under paragraph (1) shall include the following:

(A) The findings of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine with respect to the comprehensive review conducted under this section.

(B) Such recommendations for legislative or administrative action as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine may have for the improvement of the adjudication of claims described in subsection (b)(1).

(d) Alternate Contract Organization.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—If the Secretary is unable within the period prescribed in subsection (a)(2) to enter into an agreement described in subsection (a)(1) with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on terms acceptable to the Secretary, the Secretary shall seek to enter into such an agreement with another appropriate organization that—

(A) is not part of the Government;

(B) operates as a not-for-profit entity; and

(C) has expertise and objectivity comparable to that of the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

(2) TREATMENT.—If the Secretary enters into an agreement with another organization as described in paragraph (1), any reference in this section to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shall be treated as a reference to the other organization.


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Subtitle C—Toxic Exposure


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SEC. 632. NATIONAL ACADEMY OF MEDICINE ASSESSMENT ON RESEARCH RELATING TO THE DESCENDANTS OF INDIVIDUALS WITH TOXIC EXPOSURE.

(a) In General.—

(1) AGREEMENT.—Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall seek to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Medicine under which the National Academy of Medicine conducts an assessment on scientific research relating to the descendants of individuals with toxic exposure.

(2) ALTERNATE ORGANIZATION.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—If the Secretary is unable within the period prescribed in paragraph (1) to enter into an agreement described in such paragraph with the National Academy of Medicine on terms acceptable to the Secretary, the Secretary shall seek to enter into such an agreement with another appropriate organization that—

(i) is not part of the Federal Government;
(ii) operates as a not-for-profit entity; and
(iii) has expertise and objectivity comparable to that of the National Academy of Medicine.

(B) TREATMENT.—If the Secretary enters into an agreement with another organization as described in subparagraph (A), any reference in this section to the National Academy of Medicine shall be treated as a reference to the other organization.

(b) Elements.—The assessment conducted pursuant to the agreement entered into under subsection (a) shall include the following:

(1) A scientific review of the scientific literature regarding toxicological and epidemiological research on descendants of individuals with toxic exposure.

(2) An assessment of areas requiring further scientific study relating to the descendants of veterans with toxic exposure.

(3) An assessment of the scope and methodology required to conduct adequate scientific research relating to the descendants of individuals with toxic exposure, including—

(A) the types of individuals to be studied, including veterans with toxic exposure and the descendants of those veterans;

(B) the number of veterans and descendants described in subparagraph (A) to be studied;

(C) the potential alternatives for participation in such a study, including whether it would be necessary for participants to travel in order to participate;

(D) the approximate amount of time and resources needed to prepare and conduct the research; and

(E) the appropriate Federal agencies to participate in the research, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

(4) The establishment of categories, including definitions for each such category, to be used in assessing the evidence that a particular health condition is related to toxic exposure, such as—

(A) sufficient evidence of a causal relationship;

(B) sufficient evidence of an association;

(C) limited or suggestive evidence of an association;

(D) inadequate or insufficient evidence to determine whether an association exists; and

(E) limited or suggestive evidence of no association.

(5) An analysis of—

(A) the feasibility of conducting scientific research to address the areas that require further study as described under paragraph (2);

(B) the value and relevance of the information that could result from such scientific research; and

(C) for purposes of conducting further research, the feasibility and advisability of accessing additional information held by a Federal agency that may be sensitive.

(6) An identification of a research entity or entities with—

(A) expertise in conducting research on health conditions of descendants of individuals with toxic exposure; and

(B) an ability to conduct research on those health conditions to address areas requiring further scientific study as described under paragraph (2).

(c) Report.—The agreement entered into under subsection (a) shall require the National Academy of Medicine to submit, not later than 2 years after entering into such agreement, to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate, and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives—

(1) the results of the assessment conducted pursuant to such agreement, including such recommendations as the National Academy of Medicine considers appropriate regarding the scope and methodology required to conduct adequate scientific research relating to the descendants of veterans with toxic exposure; and

(2) a determination regarding whether the results of such assessment indicate that it is feasible to conduct further research regarding health conditions of descendants of veterans with toxic exposure, including an explanation of the basis for the determination.

(d) Certification.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 90 days after receiving the results of the assessment and determination under subsection (c), the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives a certification of the understanding of the Secretary, based on such results and determination, regarding the feasibility of conducting further research regarding health conditions of descendants of veterans with toxic exposure that is expressed by such results and determination.

(2) BASIS FOR CERTIFICATION.—The certification submitted under paragraph (1) shall include an explanation of the basis for the certification.

SEC. 633. ADVISORY BOARD ON RESEARCH RELATING TO HEALTH CONDITIONS OF DESCENDANTS OF VETERANS WITH TOXIC EXPOSURE WHILE SERVING IN THE ARMED FORCES.

(a) Establishment.—Unless the Secretary of Veterans Affairs certifies under section 632(d) that the results of the assessment and determination under section 632(c) indicate that it is not feasible to conduct further research regarding health conditions of descendants of veterans with toxic exposure, not later than 180 days after receiving such results and determination, the Secretary shall establish an advisory board (in this section referred to as the “Advisory Board”) to advise the Secretary in the selection of a research entity or entities under section 634, advise such entity or entities in conducting research under such section, and advise the Secretary with respect to the activities of such entity or entities under such section.

(b) Membership.—

(1) COMPOSITION.—The Secretary, in consultation with the National Academy of Medicine, the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and such other heads of Federal agencies as the Secretary determines appropriate—

(A) shall select not more than 13 voting members of the Advisory Board, of whom—

(i) not less than two shall be members of organizations exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(19) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
(ii) not less than two shall be descendants of veterans with toxic exposure while serving as members of the Armed Forces; and
(iii) not less than seven shall be health professionals, scientists, or academics who are not employees of the Federal Government and have expertise in—

(I) birth defects;

(II) developmental disabilities;

(III) epigenetics;

(IV) public health;

(V) the science of environmental exposure or environmental exposure assessment;

(VI) the science of toxic substances; or

(VII) medical and research ethics; and

(B) may select not more than two nonvoting members who are employees of the Federal Government and who are otherwise described in subparagraph (A)(iii).

(2) CHAIR.—The Secretary shall select a Chair from among the members of the Advisory Board selected under paragraph (1)(A).

(3) TERMS.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—Each member of the Advisory Board shall serve a term of 2 or 3 years as determined by the Secretary.

(B) REAPPOINTMENT.—At the end of the term of a member of the Advisory Board, the Secretary may reselect the member for another term, except that no member may serve more than 4 consecutive terms.

(c) Duties.—The Advisory Board shall—

(1) advise the Secretary in the selection of a research entity or entities to conduct research under section 634 from among those identified under section 632(b)(6);

(2) advise such entity or entities and assess the activities of such entity or entities in conducting such research;

(3) develop a research strategy for such entity or entities based on, but not limited to, the results of the assessment conducted under section 632;

(4) advise the Secretary with respect to the activities of such entity or entities under section 634;

(5) submit recommendations to be included by such entity or entities in the report under section 634(d)(2)(C); and

(6) not less frequently than semiannually, meet with the Secretary and representatives of such entity or entities on the research conducted by such entity or entities under section 634.

(d) Meetings.—The Advisory Board shall meet at the call of the Chair, but not less frequently than semiannually.

(e) Compensation.—The members of the Advisory Board shall serve without compensation.

(f) Expenses.—The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall determine the appropriate expenses of the Advisory Board.

(g) Personnel.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Chair may, without regard to the civil service laws and regulations, appoint an executive director of the Advisory Board, who shall be a civilian employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Advisory Board to perform its duties.

(2) APPROVAL.—The appointment of an executive director under paragraph (1) shall be subject to approval by the Advisory Board.

(3) COMPENSATION.—The Chair may fix the compensation of the executive director and other personnel without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, United States Code, except that the rate of pay for the executive director and other personnel may not exceed the rate payable for level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of such title.


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