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The bill would add a chapter to the Health and Safety Code to require the Health and Human Services Commission to establish and operate the Veterans Recovery Pilot Program providing specific veterans with hyperbaric oxygen treatment free of charge, if sufficient funds are available in the Veterans Recovery Account. The hyperbaric oxygen treatment is defined as treatment for a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder prescribed by a health care practitioner and delivered in: a hyperbaric chamber approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration or a hyperbaric oxygen device that is approved by USFDA for investigation use under direction of an institution review board with a national clinical trial number.
HB 271 would create the Veterans Recovery Account, a dedicated account in the general revenue fund administered by the DSHS commissioner that would be funded with gifts, grants, donations, and interest earned on funds in the account. Funds would be allowed to administer the pilot program, provide diagnostic testing and treatment, and reimburse a veteran's necessary travel and living expenses for a veteran required to travel to obtain treatment under the pilot program.
The new chapter would expire on September 1, 2023. Any remaining balance in the veterans recovery account on the expiration of the chapter would be transferred to the general revenue fund.
This bill violates our limited government principle by creating a new state government program to address an issue that is the responsibility of the federal government. We recognize that this bill proposes a pilot program, however we also note that the purpose of a pilot program is to create a permanent program which would be more costly and likely require appropriations rather than be funded solely by gifts, grants, and donations.
The only reason states are in the position of considering taking on these responsibilities is because of the failure of federal government to do its job. We encourage legislators, rather than creating state-based programs to address these needs, to hold the federal government accountable to fulfill the purpose and responsibilities of the Veterans Administration.