The National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics & Prosthetics (NAAOP) has posted to its website, its response to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) concerns with HR 5428, the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights.
The following are the VA’s first three of 17 concerns to HR 5428, excerpted from the VA’s September 29, 2010, testimony before the House VA Health Subcommittee, and NAAOP’s response to each.
- VA Statement: We understand that injured and amputee veterans have clinical and medical needs that set them apart from other patients at VA facilities-but they are not set apart in their rights.
- VA Statement: VA does not support HR 5428 because this legislation would confer unique rights upon a limited group of Veterans.
- VA Statement: Giving special rights to amputee patients that are not available to other enrolled Veterans would result in inconsistent and inequitable treatment among our Veteran-patients.
NAAOP Response: Veterans with orthotic and prosthetic needs clearly have medical and clinical needs that set them apart from other veterans. The vast majority of the rights listed in HR 5428 are only relevant to a veteran with an injury or amputation which necessitates O&P treatment. This subset of veterans are indeed “set apart in their rights” from other veterans if those rights relate to the treatment of a condition that other veterans do not have. Having a right to a functional spare prosthesis, for instance, means nothing to a veteran who possesses all his or her limbs, but it means a great deal to a veteran amputee.
NAAOP Response: The VA’s position on HR 5428 is a complete reversal from its position on the predecessor bill, HR 5730, in the 110th Congress. In testimony before a House Small Business Subcommittee in July 2008, the VA’s Chief Prosthetics and Clinical Logistics Officer stated the following with response to this question from the Subcommittee’s Chairman:
Chairman Braley: I am sure that you are aware that Congressman Filner, who is the Chair of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, recently introduced the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights. And this legislation would require displays in VA amputee clinics, documents informing veterans of their right to quality O&P care. It would also express the rights of veterans to see the practitioner of their choice. Do you see that this proposal would be useful to veteran amputees who are confused about their rights in the system?
Mr. Downs: That would help. It certainly would. Anything. VA has a Patient Bill of Rights that is posted in all our VA facilities. That covers all aspects of their medical care. But if it is felt that an extra posting in our labs would help, then fine. Because we have a passion to make sure that these men and women coming back get the best of care and that the VA is open to them, and so we keep putting the word out constantly….
NAAOP Response: HR 5428 is not intended to confer newly created rights on veterans. It is only intended to educate and make veterans more aware of the rights they currently have. Again, the vast majority of the “rights” in the bill related only to the O&P treatment needs of certain veterans with particular conditions. They are simply not relevant to veterans without injuries or amputations. If any veteran encounters the need for O&P care, they could avail themselves of these rights. In this respect, there is nothing inconsistent or inequitable in the way this bill would treat veterans.
To read the full response, visit the NAAOP website.