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Opening Statement of Honorable Raul Ruiz, Minority Member

Thank you Chairman Benishek and Ranking Member Brownley for holding today’s hearing.  I am looking forward to learning more about the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Health Administration (VHA) productivity standards as it relates to physicians and how it affects veteran care.

The importance of today’s hearing resonates all too well with my past experience as an emergency room doctor.  Productivity standards and ensuring appropriate staffing levels is critical to a well-run hospital.  And the methodology that we established permitted us to not only maintain an appropriate workforce, but also to have experienced, trustworthy staff members who could deal with the pressures of the ER.

The importance of having this type of qualified staff on hand cannot be underscored enough. They are by a patient’s side caring for them in some of the most vulnerable points in a person’s life. They care not only for a person’s physical wellbeing, but also for their emotional wellbeing.  And they do this day in and day out because they are providing what hospitals are truly about: high quality, patient-centered care.  

Our veterans deserve this type of care at all VA Medical Centers, and I believe the VA is currently doing what they can to provide this level of care.  However, I believe that there is always room for improvement and I know the VA has the capacity and the leadership to develop appropriate procedures to measure physician productivity and recruit and retain doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.

If an opportunity arises where I could provide the VA with my expertise in the private sector, I would be delighted to work alongside you to develop a methodology that strengthens the care we provide our veterans. I hope you will consider my offer to collaborate and will reach out to my office so that we can have a longer discussion on this issue.

Thank you and I yield back the balance of my time.