Since Feb. 27, the House and Senate Veterans Affairs (VA) Committees have hosted multiple joint hearings on fiscal year (FY) 2019 legislative priorities of several Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs). Veterans’ health care access and veteran-specific research was a common theme in multiple VSO testimonies.
The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans of America all highlighted VA’s challenges with recruitment and retention of skilled medical staff. The Vietnam Veterans of America testimony specifically cited AAMC’s research into the physician shortage as further evidence that reform of the VA healthcare system is necessary, stating that the result of the physician shortage is “far more dire [for veterans], because veterans present with three and four and often more times as many health issues as non-veterans.”
AAMC sent a Feb. 6 letter to House and Senate VA Committee leadership thanking them for their work to preserve VA-academic affiliate partnerships and enhance physician recruitment in pending Veterans Choice Program legislation [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 16].
The VSOs also raised research on veteran-specific illness and injury as a legislative priority. Priorities areas identified in the FY 2019 budget request, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), PTSD, chronic pain, and women’s health, were also highlighted as areas of focus for the VSOs. In line with the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA), Disabled American Veterans cited the Independent Budget FY 2019 recommendation of $823 million for the VA Medical and Prosthetic Research Program. AAMC is a member of the FOVA executive committee.