Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

03/10/2009 03:00 PM HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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03:07:41 PM Start
03:08:02 PM HJR10
03:34:53 PM Presentation: Alaska Brain Injury Network: Traumatic Brain Injury
04:57:47 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Presentation by Alaska Brain Injury TELECONFERENCED
Network: Traumatic Brain Injury
Moved CSHJR 10(HSS) Out of Committee
HJR 10-VETERANS' HEALTH CARE                                                                                                  
3:08:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HERRON announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  JOINT RESOLUTION  NO.  10,  Urging the  United  States                                                               
Congress  to  improve health  care  for  veterans.   [Before  the                                                               
committee was CSHJR 10(MLV).]                                                                                                   
3:09:43 PM                                                                                                                    
HOWARD  COLBERT,  Commander,  Local  Disabled  American  Veterans                                                               
(DAV) Post  Chapter 4, observed  that HJR 10 addressed  rural and                                                               
native  areas,   and  he  offered   his  belief  that   this  was                                                               
discriminatory against all veterans.   He emphasized that the DAV                                                               
did   not   "discriminate   against   color,   religion,   creed,                                                               
anything...we  are   all  brothers."    He   explained  that  the                                                               
logistics in Alaska  were a "nightmare."  He  reported that there                                                               
was not a [Veterans Administration  (VA)] hospital, only a clinic                                                               
in Alaska.   He  affirmed that  he had  worked for  several years                                                               
with Representative  Kerttula regarding  care for veterans  in SE                                                               
Alaska, though he mentioned that progress had been very slow.                                                                   
3:12:57 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  WALSH, Adjutant,  Local  Disabled  American Veterans  (DAV)                                                               
Post Chapter 4, declared support  for the recommendation that the                                                               
United States  Congress provide adequate funds  for the veterans'                                                               
needs.  He  noted the increase of injuries  to military personnel                                                               
in  Iraq,  and he  affirmed  support  for increased  funding  for                                                               
traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and mental health centers.                                                                       
3:16:42 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  COLBERT  offered   his  belief  that  there   were  not  any                                                               
psychiatrists or analysts  to help veterans in  Juneau that "know                                                               
what they are doing," as they  do not have any combat experience.                                                               
He  called attention  to the  lack of  housing for  veterans when                                                               
they  arrive from  out  of  town for  any  medical  service.   He                                                               
reported  that   540,000  medals  had  been   awarded  since  the                                                               
beginning of  combat in Iraq  and Afghanistan, and that  for each                                                               
of  these medals  "there's a  consequence,  there's a  part of  a                                                               
man's  life that  has  totally  changed."   He  pointed out  that                                                               
veterans  had made  the  sacrifice, and  that  they deserved  the                                                               
3:18:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. WALSH affirmed  his support for federal and  state funding to                                                               
ensure  that  veterans  had  access to  quality  health  care  at                                                               
community health centers.  He  explained the DAV outreach program                                                               
in  Southeast Alaska.    He  offered support  of  local care  for                                                               
veterans in the small communities.                                                                                              
3:19:56 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  COLBERT  noted  that  a  new  facility  for  women  veterans                                                               
suffering from  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder  (PTSD) had opened                                                               
in Menlo  Park, California,  yet there was  not any  facility for                                                               
women combat  veterans in  Alaska.   He asked if  any of  the $22                                                               
million VA allocation for rural  health care would be apportioned                                                               
to Alaska.                                                                                                                      
3:21:33 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  WALSH expressed  support for  electronic claims  if adequate                                                               
privacy was maintained.                                                                                                         
3:22:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAVID GUTTENBERG,  Alaska State Legislature, noted                                                               
that Senator Lisa Murkowski had  suggested for Alaskans to remind                                                               
the  U.S.  Congress  about  Alaskan issues.    He  reported  that                                                               
veterans in  Alaska were not  getting the necessary  health care.                                                               
He cited inadequate facilities,  inadequate delivery systems, and                                                               
distance as  problems.   He expressed his  desire to  ensure that                                                               
the  VA had  state  wide  service in  all  the  communities.   He                                                               
recognized that  travel was a  hardship.  He acknowledged  that a                                                               
new  generation   of  veterans   endured  new  challenges.     He                                                               
emphasized that  veterans had  earned the  right for  health care                                                               
benefits without undue hardships, and  he urged the U.S. Congress                                                               
to "do a better job than they have been doing right now."                                                                       
3:24:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HERRON  asked for  Representative Guttenberg  to comment                                                               
on the  not yet offered amendment  to CSHJR 10 (MLV).   [Included                                                               
in the members' packets.  Text provided below.]                                                                                 
3:25:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   GUTTENBERG  agreed   that   the  amendment   was                                                               
succinct,  and he  offered his  support for  the not  yet offered                                                               
3:25:33 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Herron opened public testimony.                                                                                        
3:25:55 PM                                                                                                                    
SHELLY HUGHES,  Government Affairs Director, Alaska  Primary Care                                                               
Association (APCA),  noted that she  was the wife and  the mother                                                               
of  veterans.     She  testified  that  this   was  an  important                                                               
resolution  as there  had not  been very  much response  from the                                                               
Veterans Administration  (VA).   She expressed concern  for rural                                                               
veterans  without  access to  VA  health  care facilities.    She                                                               
explained that  required care  was only  received if  the medical                                                               
condition was military service related  and met certain criteria.                                                               
She  reported that  veterans either  did not  receive the  needed                                                               
care or  they went to the  Community Health Centers (CHC)  or the                                                               
tribal health  clinics, neither  of which  received reimbursement                                                               
from the VA.   She offered support for a  partnership between the                                                               
VA and the Department of  Health and Human Services to streamline                                                               
the process.   She  directed attention  to the  increasing health                                                               
needs of aging veterans and  returning veterans.  She pointed out                                                               
that CHCs were  in the local communities, so  that family members                                                               
were available for support.                                                                                                     
3:28:55 PM                                                                                                                    
EVANGELYN DOTOMAIN,  President & CEO, Alaska  Native Health Board                                                               
(ANHB), said that  ANHB supported HJR 10.  She  stressed that the                                                               
services and funding should "follow  the veteran."  She explained                                                               
that tribal health  provided health service to  veterans, but did                                                               
not receive any reimbursement from the VA.                                                                                      
3:30:12 PM                                                                                                                    
MCHUGH PIERRE,  Director of Communications;  Legislative Liaison,                                                               
Office  of  the   Commissioner/Adjutant  General,  Department  of                                                               
Military  &  Veterans'  Affairs  (DMVA),  stated  that  DMVA  had                                                               
concerns  for  the  sharing  of   federal  funding  with  Alaskan                                                               
3:31:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  reiterated that the  veterans deserved                                                               
the benefits, and  he noted that other states also  had this same                                                               
3:32:24 PM                                                                                                                    
[Co-Chair Herron closed public testimony.]                                                                                      
3:32:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  KELLER   moved  to  adopt  Amendment   1,  labeled  26-                                                               
LS0313\S.1, Bailey, 3/10/09, which read:                                                                                        
     Page 4, following line 10:                                                                                                 
          Insert new material to read:                                                                                          
          "FURTHER   RESOLVED   that    the   Alaska   State                                                                  
     Legislature urges the United  States Congress to ensure                                                                    
     that  health care  services  follow  veterans to  where                                                                    
     they live and  work so that veterans  are not obligated                                                                    
     to search for the veterans'  services to which they are                                                                    
     entitled; and be it"                                                                                                     
There being no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                              
3:33:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR KELLER moved  to report CSHJR 10 (MLV),  as amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying fiscal  notes.  There  being no objection,  CSHJR 10                                                               
(HSS)  was reported  from the  House Health  and Social  Services                                                               
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
CS for HJR 10.PDF HHSS 3/10/2009 3:00:00 PM
HJR 10 letters of support.PDF HHSS 3/10/2009 3:00:00 PM
HJR 10, updated sponsor statement.PDF HHSS 3/10/2009 3:00:00 PM