More than 50 Members of Congress signed a March 1 letter to House Appropriations Mil.Con.-VA Subcommittee Chair Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Ranking Member Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) requesting that “the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2017 fully fund the President’s budget request of $663 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical and Prosthetic Research appropriation” [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 12]. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Ct.) led the “Dear Colleague” letter, and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) was the sole republican to sign on.
The letter notes, “Congress has long understood the relationship between robust research into the health care needs of our veterans and improved outcomes in treatment and care,“ and continues, “the VA is in a prime position to study the causes and most effective treatments that most commonly afflict our servicemembers and veterans.”
At a Feb. 23 Senate VA Committee hearing, Carl Blake, associate executive director of Government Relations, Paralyzed Veterans of America, testified on behalf of the veterans service organizations’ Independent Budget, recommending $665 million for VA Research and $75 million for the VA’s Million Veterans Program (MVP), in line with the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA) coalition recommendations. AAMC is a member of the FOVA Executive Committee.
At the hearing, Committee Chair Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) raised the issue independent of supplemental funds for MVP. Mr. Blake responded, “[U]nfortunately this year I think the VA is projecting to draw about $60 million or $65 million out of its appropriations request just for MVP. And that would actually bring the medical and prosthetic research account number back below what was just approved in the appropriations bill back in December.”