House and Senate Appropriations Committees Recommend Increase for VA Research
On July 13, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies spending bill. Thanks to an amendment offered by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and supported by FOVA, the bill includes $722 million for Medical and Prosthetic Research, a $49 million (7.3 percent) increase over the FY 2017 enacted level. In May, Durbin authored a letter to the Appropriations Committee requesting a five percent increase for the VA research program. The Senate Mil-Con/VA Subcommittee’s initial recommendation was $705 million but the Durbin amendment achieved the goal of a 5 percent increase.
Last month, the House Appropriations Committee passed a separate Mil-Con/VA spending bill that provides $691 million for VA Research, a $16 million (2.4 percent) increase over FY 2017.
The president’s budget for FY 2018 proposed $640 million for VA Medical and Prosthetic Research, a $35 million (5.2 percent) cut from the FY 2017 comparable level.
Please encourage the House of Representatives, and members of the House Appropriations Committee in particular, to support the Senate’s approved level for VA Research ($722 million). Attached is the FY 2018 FOVA Brochure, which you can use to advocate for this important program to improve Veterans’ health.
FOVA Briefing Highlights VA Research Program
FOVA hosted a May 16 congressional briefing in partnership with the VA Office of Research and Development, titled “Veterans Health Research: A Showcase and Advancements.” The event introduced the new VA Chief Research and Development Officer, Rachel Ramoni, DMD, ScD. Patricia A. Dorn, PhD, director of VA rehabilitation research and development service, also provided opening remarks. The briefing featured live demonstrations of VA rehabilitation research including brain-computer interface, peripheral nerve interfaces for natural sensation and control in amputees, the standing wheelchair, and exoskeleton-assisted walking in persons with spinal cord injury. [summary provided courtesy of AAMC]
FOVA Executive Committee Members Testify Before House Appropriations Committee
Two members of the FOVA Executive Committee testified at a March 29 House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies public witness hearing regarding FY 2018 funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The FOVA witnesses included Carl Blake, Paralyzed Veterans of America Associate Executive Director of Government Relations, as well as Heather O’Beirne Kelly, PhD, American Psychological Association Director of Veterans and Military Health Policy. Dr. Kelly and Mr. Blake both advocated for increased FY 2018 funding for VA Medical and Prosthetic Research, in line with FOVA and the VSO’s Independent Budget.
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) mentioned VA research facilities, and noted that, in 2012, the VA Office of Research and Development “did an in-depth study and an analysis of the physical condition of the V.A.’s aging research infrastructure, and they reported that the average VA building that houses research laboratories is over 50 years old.” Bishop continued, citing Dr. Kelly’s testimony and FOVA’s position, “VA lacks the state-of-the-art research facilities and that modern research can't be conducted in facilities that closely resemble a high school science lab. As a result, they are recommending $50 million for five major research facility construction projects and $175 million for minor construction maintenance projects.” [summary provided courtesy of AAMC]
The information above originally appears in a July 21, 2017 newsletter communication from the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA) coalition where NAVREF is an executive committee member.