Paralyzed Veterans of America Urges Protection of VA Specialized Services, CARF Standards in Private Healthcare, Enforcement of VA Staffing Capacity Requirements

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WASHINGTON, DC—Today Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) National President Al Kovach, Jr. testified before the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees, urging support for Paralyzed Veterans’ top legislative priorities—ensuring that VA specialized care services are protected and that veterans with catastrophically injuries receive the “gold standard of care” wherever they seek treatment.

“VA is differentiated by its nationwide ‘hub and spokes’ framework and high standards defined by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities—also known as CARF,” stated Kovach. “CARF places emphasis on the needs of special populations by ensuring programs meet ‘patient-centered and state-of-art national standards.”

Kovach went on to say that evidence suggests not all rehabilitation centers in the private sector that claim to provide the gold standard of care are actually CARF-certified.

Kovach presented testimony on a group panel of nine veterans service organizations, presided over by House Veterans Affairs Chairman Phil Roe. While Paralyzed Veterans submitted eight core policy priorities for the Congressional year, President Kovach focused on VA healthcare in his brief oral testimony, opening with this statement:  “We are among the most profoundly disabled, yet resilient, contingent of the veteran population, and with all of the legislative priorities we entered into the written record, none is more important to us than protecting the specialized system of VA healthcare.”

Approximately 29,000 veterans with spinal cord injuries are currently served by the VA, and VA remains the best provider of health care for veterans. VA’s specialized services, such as spinal cord injury care most often cannot be duplicated in the private sector, but VA has not maintained its capacity to provide for the unique health care needs of severely disabled veterans. “Over the past seven years, the VA has fallen short of its mandated staffing of bedside clinicians by operating at only 60 percent capacity,” stated Kovach.  He urged Congress to enforce legislation passed last year (P.L. 114-223) that reinstated the annual capacity reporting requirement originally established by the “Veterans’ Health Care Eligibility Reform Act” (P.L. 104-262) in 1996.

Kovach ended his testimony by challenging Congressional members who are veterans to learn more about the quality healthcare offered at VA by seeking their care there. He stated, “If you want oversight of veteran healthcare, you need to have a little skin in the game.”

To read President Kovach’s full written statement from March 9, 2017, click here.

View a video of the testimony: 


Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.

As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 34 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. (