Late Breaking News
Amputee Advocates: VA Prosthetics Treatment Not as State-of-Art as DoD
VA officials concurred with the reports’ recommendations and said they are working to address the issues of concern.
Norbert Doyle, chief procurement and logistics officer for VHA, told the subcommittee that the new policy that would require prosthetic items costing more than $3,000 to be purchased by a contracting officer, rather than the prosthetics service purchasing officers, is meant to ensure compliance with federal acquisition regulations.
|Army Spc. Charles Lemon, previously assigned to C Troop "Maddog", 3rd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, was presented the Purple Heart award by Brig. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo recently for injuries he sustained during a combat mission a year ago. Lemon lost both his legs but was able to stand for the ceremony with the use of prosthetics. Photo by Sgt. Lance Pounds.|
Doyle said a pilot project was done the first three months of this year to evaluate the impact of the procurement changes as part of VA’s, “great pains to ensure success of this transfer” of purchasing authority.
“We did learn from those pilots, and we’re implementing changes to ensure that care is not impacted,” he said. “Some of the things that we learned is that our staffing models are incorrect in the number of procurements that we could do in a day in the contracting office. … We have received approval to hire additional people to ensure we can keep up.”
He assured the committee that contracting officers would not interfere with clinical decisions on what devices veterans need.
“I do not want my contracting officers making a decision as to what goes in a veteran’s body or gets appended to it,” he said. “That is clearly a clinician decision.”
Members of Congress, however, expressed their reservations about the proposed procurement changes.
“It is very clear from the VSOs [veterans’ service organizations], some of their statements, that it is not uncommon for clinicians to prescribe something and it be modified by contracting officers primarily because of cost. And that is a big concern that I would have,” Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) told VA officials.
Chairwoman Rep. Ann Buerkle (R-NY) said she would be interested in seeing the results of the pilot done earlier this year where the procurement reforms were instituted but said she was “troubled” by the proposed changes.
“My concern is that not enough thought was given to this, not enough consultation was done with the veterans and VSOs,” she said.
Also testifying was Lucille Beck, acting chief consultant for VA’s prosthetics and sensory aids service. She said VA is collaborating with DoD on the establishment of the Extremity Trauma and Amputation Center for Excellence, which will be a virtual center with a focus on clinical care, research and education.
“One of the missions of this joint VA and DoD center of excellence is research coordination,” she said.