PVA members require specialized health care and rely on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders (SCI/D) System of Care to meet their specialized health care needs. VA’s specialized systems of care follow higher clinical standards than those required in the private sector. Preserving and strengthening VA’s specialized systems of care—such as SCI/D care, blinded rehabilitation, amputee care, and polytrauma care—remains our highest priority.
If VA continues to shift care to the private sector and woefully understaff and underfund its facilities, the Department’s capacity to treat veterans will be diminished, and could lead to the closure of facilities and reductions in services offered to catastrophically disabled veterans. PVA is very concerned about efforts to permanently reduce inpatient beds in some SCI/D Centers, including at facilities that provide specialized long-term care (LTC). There are few LTC facilities that are capable of appropriately serving veterans with SCI/D. VA operates six such facilities; only one of which lies west of the Mississippi River. Many aging veterans with SCI/D need VA LTC services but the Department only has the capacity to provide this kind of care for about 200 patients. As a result, the need far exceeds VA’s specialized LTC bed capacity.
The capacity of the system to provide a continuum of care must be preserved and strengthened to meet the needs of paralyzed veterans.
- Congress must increase oversight to ensure that VA retains the capacity in its system for specialized services such as those provided by the SCI/D Centers.
- Congress must ensure sufficient funding is allocated to meet the needs of veterans requiring specialized services such as SCI/D.
- Congress must ensure proper staffing of VA’s specialized services by ensuring the Department has the authority to provide additional pay, compensation, and retention incentives to make VA service more competitive with the private sector.
- Congress must ensure that VA designs an SCI/D LTC strategic plan that addresses the need for increased LTC SCI/D bed capacity within its system.
- Congress must provide increased funding directed at the completion of pending SCI/D-related construction projects.