House VA Health Subcommittee holds hearing on prosthetic procurement

A third hearing of the House VA Health Subcommittee on the changes the Department of Veterans Affairs plans to implement on procurement of prosthetics, particularly limb prosthesis, was held on July 31, according to a press release from the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics & Prosthetics. Two previous hearings held in May addressed concerns raised by amputee veterans regarding choice of practitioner, access to new technology and the overall system of Veterans Affairs prosthetic care.

Veterans Affairs (VA) undersecretary Robert Petzel, MD, made several key points in his testimony about the procurement of prosthetics, including:

  • The VA has submitted a written narrative of the changes it intends to implement on prosthetic procurement to the Subcommittee. The transition to warranted purchasing officers from VA prosthetic staff in purchasing prosthetics has been delayed until September 30 and may be delayed again if the VA leadership does not believe they are ready to implement the changes without causing problems in access or other provision of VA care.
  • The changes in procurement are intended to be transparent. The new procurement rules are intended to change how the VA purchases prosthetics, not what they purchase. A physician’s prescription is supposed to dictate all procurement decisions.
  • Section 8123 of the VA statute will continue to allow private prosthetic practitioners to be contractors of the VA without going through the VA’s competitive process that other vendors need to follow.
  • New technology will continue to be available to any amputee veteran who wants and needs these devices.
  • A list of prosthetic contractors must be made available to each veteran and the VA must explain that veterans have a choice of practitioner. If there is an existing relationship between the veteran and a private prosthetist, the practitioner will be invited to attend the VA O&P clinic.

The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics & Prosthetics will continue to work with the VA and the VA Congressional committees to codify these statements into law, according to the release.

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