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115th Congress    }                                        {   Report
                          HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session      }                                        {   115-385

======================================================================



 
             VETERANS CARE FINANCIAL PROTECTION ACT OF 2017

                                _______
                                

November 6, 2017.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Roe of Tennessee, from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 3122]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 3122) to protect individuals who are eligible 
for increased pension under laws administered by the Secretary 
of Veterans Affairs on the basis of need of regular aid and 
attendance from dishonest, predatory, or otherwise unlawful 
practices, and for other purposes, having considered the same, 
report favorably thereon with amendments and recommend that the 
bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Amendment........................................................     2
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     3
Hearings.........................................................     3
Subcommittee Consideration.......................................     4
Committee Consideration..........................................     4
Committee Votes..................................................     4
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     4
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............     4
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures     4
Earmarks and Tax and Tariff Benefits.............................     5
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................     5
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     5
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................     6
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     6
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     6
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................     6
Statement on Duplication of Federal Programs.....................     6
Disclosure of Directed Rulemaking................................     6
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     6
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill as Reported.............     7

                               AMENDMENT

    The amendments are as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Veterans Care Financial Protection Act 
of 2017''.

SEC. 2. SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS NOTICE OF DISHONEST, PREDATORY, 
                    OR OTHERWISE UNLAWFUL PRACTICES TARGETING 
                    INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR INCREASED PENSION 
                    ON BASIS OF NEED FOR REGULAR AID AND ATTENDANCE.

  (a) Notice Required.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall include 
on the internet website of the Department of Veterans Affairs a warning 
to veterans relating to dishonest, predatory, or otherwise unlawful 
practices targeting individuals who are eligible for increased pension 
under chapter 15 of title 38, United States Code, on the basis of need 
for regular aid and attendance.
  (b) GAO Study.--
          (1) Study required.--Not later than 18 months after the date 
        of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the 
        United States shall complete a study on financial exploitation 
        of veterans. Such study shall include--
                  (A) an analysis of the types of standards used by 
                Federal and State agencies intended to protect 
                vulnerable populations from financial exploitation; and
                  (B) an analysis of the types of financial 
                exploitation facing veterans who are eligible for 
                increased pension under chapter 15 of title 38, United 
                States Code, on the basis of need for regular aid and 
                attendance and any gaps in efforts to address these 
                issues.
          (2) Reports.--
                  (A) Preliminary report.--Not later than one year 
                after the date of the enactment of this Act, the 
                Comptroller General shall submit to Congress a 
                preliminary report on the study required under 
                paragraph (1).
                  (B) Final report.--Not later than 18 months after the 
                date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller 
                General shall submit to Congress a final report on such 
                study.

    Amend the title so as to read:
    A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to 
include on the internet website of the Department of Veterans 
Affairs a warning regarding dishonest, predatory, or otherwise 
unlawful practices targeting individuals who are eligible for 
increased pension on the basis of need for regular aid and 
attendance, and for other purposes.

                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    H.R. 3122, as amended, the Veterans Care Financial 
Protection Act of 2017, would help protect vulnerable veterans 
who may be eligible for increased pension benefits on the basis 
of need for regular aid and attendance. The legislation would 
require that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provide 
additional warnings for veterans and their families about 
dishonest individuals that prey on sick and elderly 
beneficiaries. Additionally, the legislation would require the 
Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office 
(GAO) to conduct a study and submit a report to Congress within 
18 months of the date of enactment. Such report would evaluate 
the scope of the problem of vulnerable veterans in need of aid 
and attendance programs who have been targeted by dishonest 
individuals. Additionally, the report would make 
recommendations on how federal agencies could better protect 
vulnerable veterans from fraud.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    Veterans who served during wartime, and their spouses, may 
be eligible to receive pension benefits if they meet certain 
income and other eligibility requirements. Such veterans and 
survivors may also be eligible for additional financial 
benefits, known as Aid and Attendance, if the applicant needs 
assistance performing personal functions required in everyday 
living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, etc. . . . VA does 
not charge veterans and their families to apply for Aid and 
Attendance benefits. Moreover, veterans service organizations 
offer free assistance to veterans and their families who wish 
to apply for this benefit.
    During the September 13, 2017 Subcommittee on Disability 
Assistance and Memorial Affairs legislative hearing, 
representatives from The American Legion, the Disabled Veterans 
of America, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans 
of Foreign Wars of the United States, testified that their 
organizations receive complaints that some individuals attempt 
to charge fees to veterans and their families for services to 
help apply for Aid and Attendance benefits.
    H.R. 3122, as amended, would require that VA post warnings 
on its website about dishonest individuals who charge fees to 
help beneficiaries apply for Pension with Aid and Attendance 
benefits. The bill would also require GAO to submit a report to 
Congress on the standards used by Federal and State agencies 
intended to protect vulnerable populations from financial 
exploitation, an analysis of the types of financial 
exploitation facing veterans who are eligible for Aid and 
Attendance benefits, and, the effectiveness of such standards.

                                HEARINGS

    On September 13, 2017, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, 
Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held 
a legislative hearing on H.R. 3122.
    The following witnesses testified:
          The Honorable David Rouzer, U.S. House of 
        Representatives; the Honorable Steve Stivers, U.S. 
        House of Representatives; the Honorable Joyce Beatty, 
        U.S. House of Representatives; the Honorable Matt 
        Cartwright, U.S. House of Representatives; the 
        Honorable Jim Banks, U.S. House of Representatives; the 
        Honorable Chellie Pingree, U.S. House of 
        Representatives; Mr. Matthew T. Sullivan, Deputy Under 
        Secretary for Finance and Planning and Chief Financial 
        Officer, National Cemetery Administration, U.S. 
        Department of Veterans Affairs; accompanied by Ms. 
        Roberta Lowe, Director, Office of Internal Controls, 
        Acting Director, Debt Management Center, Office of 
        Management, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; and 
        Ms. Cheryl Rawls, Director, Pension & Fiduciary 
        Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, U.S. 
        Department of Veterans Affairs; Ms. Elizabeth H. Curda, 
        Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security 
        Team, U.S. Government Accountability Office; Mr. Alex 
        Zhang, Assistant Director, National Veterans Affairs 
        and Rehabilitation Division, The American Legion; Mr. 
        LeRoy Acosta, Assistant National Legislative Director, 
        Disabled American Veterans; Mr. Blake Ortner, Deputy 
        Government Relations Director, Paralyzed Veterans of 
        America; Ms. Kathleen Moakler, Director, Survivor 
        Advocacy, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors; 
        and, Mr. John Towles, Deputy Director, National 
        Legislative Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the 
        United States.

                       SUBCOMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    H.R. 3122 was not considered before the Subcommittee on 
Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

                        COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    On October 12, 2017, the Full Committee met in an open 
markup session, a quorum being present, and ordered H.R. 3122, 
as amended, favorably reported to the House of Representatives 
by voice vote. During consideration of the bill, the following 
amendment to H.R. 3122 was considered and agreed to by voice 
vote:
          An amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by 
        Ms. Esty of Connecticut that would remove the 
        requirement that GAO or VA develop and implement 
        federal and state standards to protect vulnerable 
        veterans from fraud. Instead, the amendment in the 
        nature of a substitute would require VA to provide 
        additional warnings for veterans and their families 
        about unscrupulous and dishonest individuals that would 
        prey on sick and elderly individuals. Additionally, the 
        amendment in the nature of a substitute would require 
        GAO to conduct a study and submit a report to Congress 
        within 18 months of the date of enactment. The report 
        would outline the scope of the problem and make 
        recommendations on how to better protect vulnerable 
        veterans from fraud.

                            COMMITTEE VOTES

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, no recorded votes were taken on 
amendments. A motion by Ranking Member Timothy J. Walz of 
Minnesota to report H.R. 3122, as amended, favorably to the 
House of Representatives was agreed to by voice vote.

                      COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII and clause 
(2)(b)(1) of rule X of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives, the Committee's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the descriptive portions of 
this report.

         STATEMENT OF GENERAL PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

    In accordance with clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee's performance 
goal and objective is to protect vulnerable veterans who may be 
eligible for increased pension on the basis of need for regular 
Aid and Attendance from unscrupulous individuals.

   NEW BUDGET AUTHORITY, ENTITLEMENT AUTHORITY, AND TAX EXPENDITURES

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee adopts as its 
own the estimate of new budget authority, entitlement 
authority, or tax expenditures or revenues contained in the 
cost estimate prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

                  EARMARKS AND TAX AND TARIFF BENEFITS

    H.R. 3122, as amended, does not contain any Congressional 
earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as 
defined in clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives.

                        COMMITTEE COST ESTIMATE

    The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate on H.R. 
3122, as amended, prepared by the Director of the Congressional 
Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional 
Budget Act of 1974.

               CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the following is the cost estimate 
for H.R. 3122, as amended, provided by the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, October 20, 2017.
Hon. Phil Roe, M.D.,
Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 3122, the Veterans 
Care Financial Protection Act of 2017.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Matt Schmit.
            Sincerely,
                                                 Keith Hall
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 3122--Veterans Care Financial Protection Act of 2017

    H.R. 3122 would require the Department of Veterans Affairs 
(VA) to post a notice on its Internet website that warns those 
who receive benefits for regular aid and attendance of the risk 
of financial exploitation. The bill also would require the 
Government Accountability Office (GAO) to complete a report 
that examines the standards used by federal and state agencies 
to protect such veterans.
    Based on an analysis of the number of people involved in 
producing similar reports, CBO estimates that the GAO report 
would cost about $1 million in 2018 and an insignificant amount 
in 2019. That spending would be subject to the availability of 
appropriated funds. The cost of posting a notice on VA's 
website would be insignificant, CBO estimates.
    Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 3122 would not increase 
net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    H.R. 3122 contains no intergovernmental or private sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Matt Schmit. The 
estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                       FEDERAL MANDATES STATEMENT

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates regarding H.R. 3122, as amended, prepared by the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 
423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

                      ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act would be created by H.R. 
3122, as amended.

                   CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Pursuant to Article I, section 8 of the United States 
Constitution, H.R. 3122, as amended, is authorized by Congress' 
power to ``provide for the common Defense and general Welfare 
of the United States.''

                  APPLICABILITY TO LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

    The Committee finds that H.R. 3122, as amended, does not 
relate to the terms and conditions of employment or access to 
public services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.

              STATEMENT ON DUPLICATION OF FEDERAL PROGRAMS

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(5) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that no provision 
of H.R. 3122, as amended, establishes or reauthorizes a program 
of the Federal Government known to be duplicative of another 
Federal program, a program that was included in any report from 
the GAO to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-
139, or a program related to a program identified in the most 
recent Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.

                   DISCLOSURE OF DIRECTED RULEMAKING

    Pursuant to section 3(i) of H. Res. 5, 115th Cong. (2017), 
the Committee estimates that H.R. 3122, as amended, contains no 
directed rule making that would require the Secretary to 
prescribe regulations.

             SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE LEGISLATION

Sec. 1. Short title

    Section 1 would establish the short title of the Act.

Sec. 2. Secretary of Veterans Affairs notice of dishonest, predatory, 
        or otherwise unlawful practices targeting individuals who are 
        eligible for increased pension on basis of need for regular aid 
        and attendance

    Section 2(a) would require VA to publish a warning on the 
website relating to dishonest, predatory, or otherwise unlawful 
practices targeting individuals who are eligible for increased 
pension on the basis of need for regular aid and attendance.
    Section 2(b) would require GAO to, not later than 18 months 
after the date of enactment of this Act, complete a study on 
the financial exploitation of veterans, including an analysis 
of the types of standards used by Federal and State agencies 
intended to protect vulnerable populations from financial 
exploitation; an analysis of the types of financial 
exploitation facing veterans who are eligible for Aid and 
Attendance benefits; and, any gaps in efforts to address these 
issues. GAO would also submit a preliminary report on the study 
not later than one year after the date of enactment of this 
Act.

         CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.