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Before the Subcommittee on Health Committee on Veterans’ Affairs United States House of Representatives Regarding VA FY’09 Construction Authorization

February 27, 2008

In the last few years, the VA has spent millions of dollars on a plan to restructure the VA health care system’s capital assets.  After extensive study—although some of us believed it was flawed due to the absence of mental health and long-term care in its models—the report called for about $6 billion to be invested in the system.  VVA believes this indicates the magnitude of the problem of a crumbling infrastructure that was, for the most part, built in the 1940s and 50s. 

The promises of VA’s Construction Acquisition and Restoration for Enhanced Services, or CARES, program has seemed far from fulfillment in the past three or four years as the coffers of medical facilities continued to be robbed to pay for medical services operations. It must be disheartening for hard-working and dedicated employees of the VA to compare the state of many of their facilities to those in the community. 

Some VA hospitals are barely maintaining accreditation because they cannot meet privacy and access standards because of overcrowding.  The VA has delayed vital capital equipment purchases and non-recurring maintenance projects in order to fund gaps in veterans’ health care.  Yet the Administration has proposed a decrease in construction funds. This is not only not a prudent or conservative response to the clear infrastructure needs of the VA health care system, it would appear to be wildly irresponsible and far from anything that could be considered prudent business practice, much less good medicine. This practice must cease. 

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