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Opening Statement of Hon. Michael H. Michaud, Chairman, Subcommittee on Health

I would like to thank everyone for coming today.

Today’s legislative hearing is an opportunity for Members of Congress, veterans, the VA and other interested parties to provide their views on and discuss introduced legislation within the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction in a clear and orderly process.   This is an important part of the legislative process that will encourage frank discussions and new ideas.

We have twelve bills before us today which address a number of important issues for our veterans and provide the staff of the Department of Veterans Affairs with the necessary tools to provide the best care for our veterans.  First, we have a bill that would bring more transparency to the VA’s medical quality assurance program, through which the Department aims to provide a systematic review of their health care activities.  Specifically, VA would be required to make medical quality assurance records available to the public so that veterans and the general public will have access to important information about the care that is provided at VA health care facilities.  Next, we have legislation providing for a bill of rights for our injured and amputee veterans given the large numbers of our servicemembers who are returning home with injuries to or loss of their limbs.  We also have several bills that would improve the health care that our veterans receive such as a pilot program for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; provision of immunizations to address vaccine-preventable diseases; adult medical foster homes for veterans; improved TBI care; help for homeless veterans with special needs; and the extension of health care eligibility for veterans who served in the Qarmat Ali region of Iraq.  Finally, we have bills before us today that would help the staff of the Department of Veterans Affairs provide better care for our veterans.  This includes a bill to better train Federal Recovery Coordinators; a bill to train VA health care facilities staff to provide important information about VBA benefits; and a bill to authorize collective bargaining over certain compensation related labor-management disputes.

I look forward to hearing the views of our witnesses on the bills before us today.