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Opening Statement of Hon. Michael H. Michaud, Chairman, and a Representative in Congress from the Sta

I would like to thank everyone for braving the weather today.

This will be the first of many hearings in the 110th Congress for the Veterans Affairs Health Subcommittee.

I would like to welcome my Ranking Member, Congressman Jeff Miller of Florida and say that I look forward to working with you. 

We have a lot on our plates and I know that by working together, we will be able to accomplish a great deal this year.

I would like to welcome our first panel of witnesses, Dr. Kussman, Dr. Kupersmith, Dr. Katz, and Mr. Kearns from the VA. 

The Veterans Health Administration is responsible for the health and well-being of our nation’s veterans.

There are few in any more important responsibilities of our government. 

We have an aging veterans’ population.  We also have a new generation entering the system with unique needs like mental health, traumatic brain injury and other wounds from service in Afghanistan and Iraq.

We are here today to learn if this budget request can meet all of these needs.

The request is an increase of six percent over last year’s funding.  We have heard from the Independent Budget and from other veterans service organizations that more money is needed.

This request includes increases to fees and copays that this committee and this Congress have rejected in the past.

It also includes a cut in medical and prosthetics research that we will address.

That being said, I believe this request is a good starting point for us, and I think we can move forward to create a budget that we can all consider a success.

And let me be clear, I don’t measure success by the dollars spent or the dollars saved. 

I measure success by the number of veterans receiving the highest possible quality of cared for in a timely manner.

We look forward to hearing your testimony and to having a frank discussion about meeting the needs of our veterans.