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Opening Statement of The Honorable Corrine Brown

Thank you, Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Michaud for calling this hearing tonight.

My many years of serving on this committee and meetings with veterans have opened my eyes to the many services the VA provides for our veterans.

One issue that I was recently exposed to was tele-health and tele-medicine.  I was prepared to dislike remote controlled health care.  How could a veteran receive care in his home?  But I was pleasantly surprised to find out the care was equivalent to going to the VA clinic, but not having to travel all that way.

And the veteran loved it!  VA medical staff reviewed the information and advised the veteran on what actions to take.  Emergency personnel would be called if that was deemed necessary.  I thank Mr. Michaud for making tele-health a priority for the VA.

This brings me to my main point.  Veterans love VA care.  However, there is not enough VA to go around.  As the recent experiences of VA hospitals being built show, including in my Orlando, building a hospital is not the VA’s strong point. 

The VA operates 1,700 sites of care, and conducts approximately 85 million appointments each year, which comes to 236,000 health care appointments each day.  

The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index, an independent customer service survey, ranks VA customer satisfaction among Veteran patients among the best in the nation and equal to or better than ratings for private sector hospitals.

It is not necessary to get veterans to a VA facility to get VA quality care.  The VA is an admitted leader in treating the issues veterans suffer from: TBI, PTSD, prosthetics and Agent Orange maladies.

If we bring community organizations into VA care, veterans could get care where they live.  Allowing private practice doctors to treat veterans would not be fair to the veteran or the doctor.  If there is no follow up on the care, who is responsible?  However, if community non-profit health providers are contracted with the VA, that follow up can be tracked.  In addition, the VA could open an office or a wing in the community facility which would bring VA care to the veteran also.

I look forward to hearing from the witness on this issue.