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Honorable Julia Brownley

Honorable Julia Brownley, Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Health

Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for holding today’s hearing.

As the new Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Health, I look forward to working with you, the other Members of this Subcommittee, and all of our stakeholders to ensure quality, timely, and accessible health care to all veterans.

We are here today to address the very important issue of physician staffing within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).  We know that access to health care is essential to veterans.  It improves treatment outcomes and quality of life for those who have it.  And we know that health care professionals are VHA’s most important resource in delivering high-quality care and services to our nation’s veterans.

Since 1981, there have been several reports that have recommended that VA implement measures to assess provider productivity, staffing levels, and associated resources.  I understand that the wide range of specialties VHA offers varies in complexity, and that it is often difficult to quantify the work that specialists provide day in and day out.

However, in a system with over 152 medical centers and nearly 1,400 community-based outpatient clinics, it is vital that VHA is able to establish a staffing methodology to help evaluate productivity, identify best practices within specialties, and develop staffing plans in order to properly manage resources.  Additionally, with recent veterans returning from war and becoming eligible for VA services in record numbers, VHA also needs to be looking toward the future to ensure that patient needs can be met.

I thank all of the panelists for being here today.  And I look forward to hearing from them on how to proceed to ensure that VA staffing levels are adequate and productivity levels are sufficient in meeting the needs of our veterans.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I yield back.