Paralyzed Veterans of America Testifies Before Congress to Urge Protection of VA Health Care Programs from Spending Reductions

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) National President Bill Lawson urged Congressional leaders to protect Department of Veterans Affairs' health care from politics.

"Our concern for the adequacy of VA funding, possible gimmicks and statements asserting excess resources is more than just curiosity or budgetary gamesmanship. Most notably they illustrate a disconnect between the health care needs of our members and available VA services," Lawson told lawmakers.

"Sixty-five years ago a Paralyzed Veterans' President testified and stated: We are strongly opposed to the tendency of cutting appropriations to the Veterans Administration as an economy move of government. I am saying the same thing today," added Lawson.

In oral and written testimony before the Senate and House Veterans' Affairs Committees, Lawson drew lawmakers' attention to the need to immediately address the following:

  • Concerns about steps the VA has taken in recent years in order to generate resources to meet the ever-growing demand on the VA health-care system. FY 2013 and FY 2014 advance appropriation budget proposal released by the Administration this year includes "management improvements," a popular gimmick used by previous Administrations to generate savings and offset the growing costs to deliver care.
  • Critical health-care staff shortages, especially nurses. Paralyzed Veterans estimates that nursing personnel delivering care at the bedside in the spinal cord injury system alone was 160 nurses below the minimum requirement.
  • Lack of long-term-care services for veterans with spinal cord injury and dysfunction—with no SCI specialized long-term-care beds west of the Mississippi and only 152 beds in the entire system (or an average of only three SCI long-term-care beds per state).

Lawson will also focus on the recommendations contained in The Independent Budget (IB) for Fiscal Year 2013—an annual comprehensive budget and policy document, by veterans for veterans. The IB recommended $57.2 billion for health care, $611 million for medical and prosthetic research, $2.1 billion for benefits processing and $3.8 billion for major and minor construction. Congress now has the opportunity to implement these recommendations that are designed to fully meet the needs of our nation's veterans.

For the past 26 years, The Independent Budget has been a blueprint for the resource requirements for VA. It has served as a voice of advocacy for America's veterans by providing the White House and Congress with a roadmap for funding the Department of Veterans Affairs.

About Paralyzed Veterans of America:
Paralyzed Veterans was founded by a group of seriously injured American heroes from the "Greatest Generation" of World War II. They created a nonprofit organization to meet the challenges that they faced back in the 1940s — from a medical community not ready to treat them to an inaccessible world. For more than 66 years, Paralyzed Veterans' national office and 34 chapters across the nation have been making America a better place for all veterans and people with disabilities. (www.pva.org)

SOURCE Paralyzed Veterans of America



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