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Submission For The Record of Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid Coalition

Independence Through Enhancement of Medical and Medicaid Coalition
September 24, 2010

The Honorable Bob Filner
Chairman, House Veterans Affairs Committee
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

RE: Support for H.R. 5428; the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights

Dear Chairman Filner:

The undersigned members of the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid (ITEM) Coalition write to strongly support your legislation, H.R. 5428, the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights, and ask that you help pass this legislation in this Congress as expeditiously as possible.

This bill would establish a written list of rights that all injured and amputee veterans have access to high quality orthotic and prosthetic (O&P) care. O&P care, consisting of orthopedic braces, artificial limbs, and the clinical services necessary to treat the patient, is vital to veterans who have lost limbs or have sustained injuries or disorders of the arms, legs, back and neck.  

The rights created by this legislation are currently available to veterans but are inconsistently applied throughout the VA health system. This inconsistency leads to a lack of access to appropriate O&P care in different areas of the country. This legislation would make veterans aware of their right to high quality care provided by qualified practitioners, to appropriate technology to meet their specific needs, and to a second opinion regarding treatment options.  Veterans also have a right to a continuum of care when transferring from the Department of Defense to the VA, and to a functional spare prosthesis or orthosis if necessary, to name a few.  

With the national spotlight on injured and amputee veterans in the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, veterans often receive the care they need. But when the spotlight dims, it is critical that veterans’ rights to high quality O&P care are well established and well understood by veterans themselves. To help enforce these rights, the Veterans Administration would be required to post this “Bill of Rights” in every VA O&P Clinic across the country, to post it on the VA website, and to create a complaint mechanism where disputes can be resolved.

The ITEM Coalition urges Congress to pass the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights to give all veterans access to consistent, high quality orthotic and prosthetic care.  We thank you for your leadership in introducing this important bill and look forward to working with you and your staff to enact H.R. 5428 into law this year.

For more information, please contact Peter Thomas, ITEM Coalition Counsel, at (202) 466-6550.

Sincerely,

Advanced Medical Technology Association
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association on Health and Disability
American Congress of Rehabilitative Medicine
American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association
American Music Therapy Association
American Therapeutic Recreation Association
Amputee Coalition of America Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs
Association of Rehabilitative Nurses Blinded Veterans
Association Brain Injury Association of America
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
Disability Health Access, LLC
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Easter Seals
Harris Family Center for Disability and Health Policy
Hearing Loss Association of America
Helen Keller National Center
National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics
National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors
National Association of State Head Injury Administrators
National Council on Independent Living
National Disability Rights Network
National Down Syndrome Society
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National Rehabilitation Hospital
National Spinal Cord Injury Association
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America
pina Bifida Association
TASH
United Spinal Association
VetsFirst

Cc:  The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
       The Honorable Steny Hoyer
       The Honorable John Boehner
       The Honorable Steve Buyer