Paralyzed Veterans Urges Congress to Protect VA Healthcare Programs

In a move to protect VA healthcare programs from budget cuts, Paralyzed Veterans of America National President Bill Lawson met with senators and representatives on March 22.

"Our concern for the adequacy of VA funding, possible gimmicks and statements asserting excess resources is more than just curiosity or budgetary gamesmanship. Most notably they illustrate a disconnect between the healthcare needs of our members and available VA services," Lawson told lawmakers, according to a news release.

Lawson’s testimony included the following points:

  • The advance appropriation budget proposal calls for "management improvements" in fiscal years 2013 and 2014 to meet the growing needs of the VA healthcare system. Lawson drew attention to these improvements, which he describes as “a popular gimmick used by previous administrations to generate savings and offset the growing costs to deliver care.”
  • The VA system lacks vital healthcare staff, especially nurses. PVA estimated that the personnel in the spinal cord injury system alone is approximately 160 nurses below the minimum requirement.
  • The shortage of long-term care services for spinal cord injury and dysfunction is stressing the VA system. PVA reported that there are only 152 beds in the entire VA system, which amounts to approximately three SCI long-term care beds per state.