Oct 11, 2014
This episode examines three bills that passed Congress in July
and have since become law. The first new law will give veterans
quicker access to health care. The second new law is designed to
provide job training to poor people, but a hidden provision will
likely take us one step closer to 1984. The third new law is
another glaring example of this Congress failing to do its job.
Also, Jen tells you her plans for Congressional Dish's future.
July Bills that Became Law
Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014
- Allows veterans to get medical care
outside the Veteran's Administration system; they can go to any
health facility that serves Medicare patients, health centers, the
Defense Department, and the Indian Health Service.
How it works: Veteran notifies VA, VA puts Veteran on an
electronic waiting list or authorizes their request, VA works out a
payment agreement with the health care provider, VA reimburses
health care provider but no more than they would for Medicare
- If the veteran gets treated for
a problem that was not related to their military service, their
health insurance plan will be responsible for payment and the
health care provider will be responsible for going after the
insurance company for the money.
can not be charged higher co-payments for care at private
facilities than they would have been charged at the Veteran's
This program will end in three years.
- Orders a
private-sector review, establishes a
fifteen person commission, and creates a
technology task force to review VA practices.
Wait times for care can not be considered when determining
performance bonuses for top officials at the Veteran's
administration and performance goals that disincentivize using
private health providers for veteran care
will be eliminated.
Wait times for health care at the VA, VA facility
quality measures, and
VA doctor credentials will be published online.
- The VA will
add 1,500 graduate medical education residency positions for
five years to address staffing shortages.
Extends the program that reimburses medical students for education
increases the amounts they'll receive for working for the
- Expands coverage for
mental health care related to sexual assaults, which will
veterans on inactive duty. This will be
effective August 7, 2015.
- Extends a pilot program for assisted living care for veterans
with traumatic brain injuries
until October 2017.
Disqualifies public colleges that charge veterans more than
State residents from being qualified schools for veteran education
- Makes it
easier to fire or transfer senior executives at the Department
of Veteran's Affairs.
Appropriates $15 billion to implement these changes.
The bill passed the Senate on July 31st by a vote of 91-3.
The bill passed the House of Representatives on July 30 by a vote
- Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina's
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
This bill was originally passed on March 15, 2013 as the SKILLS
Act and was discussed in episode CD018: The Ryan
Budget. The bill that became law was drastically different. Job
- Keeps the make up of the boards largely the same: Most members
will be representatives of the business community, twenty percent
of the members must be State officials, and
labor will be represented. The
Chairmen will be from the business community. The State boards
local boards that will determine how funds are best spent in
their local communities.
States will be allowed to keep their current government-controlled
boards, if they had established them before this bill became
- The goal is to come up with 4 year
local plans to best provide workforce training to give the
the skills most desired by the businesses that operate in the
- The State plans
must be approved by the Secretary of Labor and Secretary of
Education. The plans are deemed approved after 90 days if the
agencies have not formally disapproved in writing.
Government officials will be in charge of - and held liable
for- disbursing government money for the job training
boards will have no control over curricula taught in job
- Success will be measured by the
percentage of people who are employed and how much they're
earning six months and a year after leaving the job training
- If a state fails to meet performance requirements, the
state will lose money. If a local board fails to meet
performance requirements, their
board may be replaced or job trainers may be disqualified.
- Job training funds are allowed to be spent on services provided
by for-profit entities.
Twenty percent of the funds will go towards training eligible
young people who include
kids between the ages of 16 and 24 who have dropped out of
school, are in the juvenile detention system, are homeless, are
pregnant or single parents, can't speak English, or are disabled.
Services for young adults will include tutoring, paid and
unpaid internships, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, and financial
- The rest of the funds will be for adults
ages 22 through 71
who make less than the poverty level or roughly $29,000
- The job trainer providers
need to be "one-stop operators", meaning they will need to
provide all the services in the program at one location.
Services include eligibility verification, skill testing, job
search assistance, statistic compilation, assistance with
unemployment filing and student loan applications, career planning,
and English language lessons.
- Training services will only be available to people
who don't qualify for Pell Grants.
Training services include skills training, on-the-job training,
"training programs operated by the private sector", and ESL
- Companies that provide on-the-job training
can have 75% of the worker/trainee's wages paid for by the
- Twenty percent of the money can go towards
"incumbent worker training programs", which pay companies to
train their own workers to avert layoffs.
Employers will pay between ten and fifty percent of the training
costs, with larger companies paying more.
- The program will be
funded at $2.8 billion in 2015, increasing to $3.3 billion by
- The law establishes a Department of Labor
"Job Corps Program" to provide
low income kids between ages 16 and 24 an "intensive social,
academic, career and technical education" to prepare them for jobs
in "in-demand industry sectors or the Armed forces".
Eighty percent of the the participants must be
- Jobs corps centers
can be private. They can pocket
at least one percent of their funds as "management fees". There
is no cap.
- The jobs corps centers
will provide participants with English classes, work training,
physical education, driver's education, financial literacy classes,
counseling, and recreation.
- Enrollees in the job corps will
not be considered Federal employees and will not be protected
by laws governing hours of work, compensation, vacation time, or
Federal benefits but
will be considered Federal employees for taxation purposes.
Work place injury compensation will be
capped at $1,500 for jobs corps enrollees.
- Makes the Education Department
eligible to receive excess defense articles to carry out any
program, not just the jobs corps.
- The Jobs Corps Program
will receive over $1.6 billion in 2015 which will gradually
increase to over $1.9 billion by 2020. Administrative costs are
capped at 5% of the grant awarded or $85,000, whichever is
Adult Education Program
Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014
Written by Rep. Dave Camp (MI-4)
Also Discussed In This Episode
Check out Jen's latest appearance on
the David Seaman Hour Reserve your tickets for The Culture High at
Music in this Episode
Intro and Exit Music:
Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on
Music Alley by mevio)
The Veteran by
E.J. Fortin (found on Music Alley by mevio)
Let Their Heads Roll by Jack Erdie (found on Music Alley by mevio)