The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee plans to hold a hearing Thursday on H.R. 612, a measure that could give returning combat veterans more access to government-paid health care.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Robert Filner, D-Calif., would create the Returning Servicemember VA Healthcare Insurance Act of 2007.

The act would permit returning combat veterans to use health programs administered by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs for 5 years after their discharge or release, up from the current limit of 2 years, whether or not it appeared that any health problems were the result of their military service.

The Veterans’ Affairs health subcommittee approved the bill today, according to a committee spokesman. The vote tally was not immediately available at press time.

The bill was cosponsored by Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah.