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Hon. Michael H. Michaud, Chairman, Subcommittee on Health, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Maine

I would like to express my thanks to the Chairman for holding this hearing today.  This is an important issue for the veterans of Louisiana and for our VA system.

Veterans in south Louisiana have waited too long for a decision to be made on the future of health care delivery in this area. 

VA has the opportunity to be creative and to benefit from community assistance and input. 

I feel it is of the utmost importance to hear from the local leadership and stakeholders about the situation here and how best to resolve it. 

The decision needs to be made quickly, wisely and with effective use of tax dollars.

And we must always remember that our responsibility here is to the veteran.  They deserve to have access to the best possible care.  That must be our guiding principle.

With that, I look forward to hearing from the members of the panels.