Today, the Subcommittee on Health held an oversight hearing reviewing the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) ability to deliver prosthetic care to veterans. The hearing was a continuation of a similar hearing the Subcommittee held in May and a response to VA's inadequate answers to post-hearing questions about reforms to the prosthetic procurement process.
Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle was critical of the plans put forth by VA with regard to the planned prosthetic procurement reforms, saying that, "[a] close review of the materials VA provided leads me to believe that the reforms were developed without careful and thorough consideration. It also leads me to believe they were developed without sufficient input from veterans themselves, veteran service organization advocates, or other stakeholders."
"It is concerning that VA would move forward with instituting large-scale changes that so directly impact veteran patients in this way. If my concerns are groundless -- and I hope that they are -- I want VA, in explicit detail, to explain why."
The Chairwoman hinted that other issues might exist within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) that could be at the root of the current problems. Citing that a lack of direction from leadership at VHA as a significant setback facing the reforms.
"I am very concerned about what I am seeing with the direction of the prosthetic care service going beyond the procurement reform issue. It appears that under the VHA reorganization, the program has lost a focused leadership," said, Buerkle.
Despite opposition from the veteran's community and the Subcommittee about the proposed procurement reforms, VA maintains its position that their approach is the proper one to take. While testifying yesterday, Dr. Robert Petzel, VA Under Secretary for Health, said, "We do not believe that veterans will be adversely impacted in any way. We believe that many of our reform efforts are acceptable to all concerned parties."