The Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA) executive committee, of which the AAMC is a member, submitted written testimony for the record to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs for the May 27 hearing “Investing In A Better VA: Examining The Role Of Infrastructure In Veterans’ Access To Care And Benefits.”
In the testimony, the executive committee highlighted President Biden’s request for an $18 billion investment in VA hospital infrastructure in the American Jobs Plan and urged Congress to provide those funds and ensure they would be available to improve infrastructure for the VA Medical and Prosthetic Research Program. “We urge Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to invest in VA hospital and research facility improvements to continue supporting those who have served by providing care in world-class facilities informed by state-of-the-art research,” the executive committee stated.
The testimony highlighted necessary investments in physical research space to maintain state-of-the-art research, in information technology infrastructure to support increased reliance on cloud computing and data science resources and to utilize the full potential of research tools such as the Million Veteran Program, and the importance of supporting VA research to recruit and retain high quality health care professionals and clinician-scientists to serve our nation’s veterans.
Committee Chair Mark Takano (D-Calif.) highlighted the importance of VA health care workforce investments and graduate medical education in his opening statement.
“Aside from robust physical infrastructure, equally important is the workforce VA needs to deliver healthcare and benefits to veterans. Human capital is a very critical part of the infrastructure at VA. VA can improve buildings or build new facilities, but if VA does not have the workforce to staff them then it cannot deliver on our promise to veterans,” Takano stated.
Takano also noted VA’s ability to support graduate medical education (GME) as an opportunity to grow the health care workforce. “For example, in recent years, VA has worked to expand its graduate medical education program by nearly 1,500 slots and based on conversations with Dr. Clancy, [VA acting deputy secretary], it sounds like VA has capacity to further expand its GME slots.”
The AAMC recently joined a coalition letter in support of including additional Medicare-supported GME positions in Congress’s upcoming infrastructure package [refer to Washington Highlights, May 21].