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Opening Statement of Hon. Michael H.Michaud, Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Health

Good morning.  I would like to thank everyone for attending this important hearing today.    

The purpose of today’s hearing is to look closely at VA’s Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service and to examine the:

1.     Demand for prosthetic services;

2.     Any quality of care and access issues;

3.     The impact of ongoing procurement reform; and

4.     If current acquisition and management policies are sufficient.

As the three Office of Inspector General reports have shown, there are numerous concerns, including:

1.     The frequency of overpayments – in nearly a quarter of transactions, totaling over $2.2 million in FY 2010;

2.     The absence of negotiations, pricing guidance, and other controls; and

3.     Limited information to assess if current prosthetic limb fabrication and acquisition practices are effective.

I have said it on this Committee before – What seems to be the case is that there is little accountability in management and once again procedures and policies were not in place or not followed in managing nearly $2 billion worth of prosthetics and sensory aids.

The VA, in last year’s budget submission, claims $355 million in savings in 2012 and 2013 due to “acquisition improvements.”  But if the VA cannot follow its own policies and procedures, how much faith can we have in claims of acquisition savings? 

I hope that VA can help us understand today what accountability we should expect - to make certain that:

1.     VA does not continue to overpay for prosthetics in the future;

2.     That taxpayers and veterans receive the best value for these devices; and

3.     For management to ensure that the Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service is fully meeting veterans’ needs.

Finally, it has come to my attention that VA has proposed changes in the procurement of prosthetics and that there is a high degree of concern among some of our witnesses today as to the effectiveness of these changes.  I look forward to hearing from VA on that issue as well. 

I thank our panelists for appearing today. 

I am committed to working with all of you to ensure that our wounded veterans, those who have served honorably and made such great sacrifices, are able to go about their lives more comfortably with these devices and with the best support and services from the VA.

Madam Chair, I yield back.