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Opening Statement of The Honorable Michael Michaud, Ranking Member, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Providing timely, quality, safe care to veterans is the primary mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Integral to accomplishing this mission is the ability to successfully measure the capacity and capabilities of the organization.

Mr. Chairman, at this point in time, I do not have much confidence VA has been able to do that analysis.

I firmly believe if you do not have good numbers on which to base calculations, then you cannot possibly begin to accurately measure capacity or demand.

Anticipating capacity and demand is central to good strategic planning.

Clearly VA is struggling to get a handle on how many veterans are undergoing or waiting for treatment.  It seems to me having a significant number of patients on waiting lists indicates a system that is overwhelmed and unprepared.  VHA simply cannot handle the increasing number of veterans to whom we have a moral obligation to provide sound treatment.

The VA OIG reported in testimony on March 2013, that VHA’s Office of Productivity, Efficiency, and Staffing conducted studies in 2006 of 14 specialty care services.  The report had nine recommendations. One of the recommendations was to have VHA develop Relative Value Unit productivity standards and staffing guidance for the field. 

I recognize this is a complicated process and VA health care has continued to change over the years, but eight years to develop this system is too long. It’s unacceptable.

While Dr. Lynch states in testimony that by the end of September 2014, all VHA physicians will have productivity standards in place, I am skeptical of the usefulness of those standards due to the current crisis.

Today, I would like to hear from VA how they are measuring capacity, a timeline for when they will be done, and most importantly, any additional resources that may be needed to ensure VA is fulfilling the primary mission of providing health care to the nation’s veterans.

Mr. Chairman, I know that the vast majority of the Department’s employees are hard-working and dedicated to caring for veterans.  For that, I applaud them.

I look forward to hearing from the VA today and thank them for coming.