WASHINGTON, (D.C.) – Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-WV) joined U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Reps. David McKinley (R-WV) and Alex Mooney (R-WV) in sending a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to reject the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recommendations to the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission, which includes significant reductions in services at three of the four VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) in West Virginia.
The letter reads in part, “We write to you today to express our grave concern with the recommendations the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) submitted to the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission, pursuant to Title II, Subtitle A of the VA MISSION Act. These recommendations are the first step in a long process that will require the approval of both the White House and Congress before any VA facilities may be closed, relocated, or downsized. The VA’s recommendations are based on faulty data and assumptions that fail to consider the actual needs of West Virginia Veterans and the capacity of West Virginia’s healthcare network to meet those needs.”
The VA has recommended that the Clarksburg, Beckley, and Huntington VAMCs all discontinue inpatient medical and surgical services, which would push Veteran healthcare needs to civilian healthcare providers that are already struggling. 54 of the 55 counties in West Virginia are designated partial or whole health professional shortage areas (HPSA), with only enough staff for 70% of the licensed hospitals beds.
“As illustrated in a recent Government Accountability Office titled “Incomplete Information Hinders Usefulness of Market Assessments for VA Facility Realignment”, the VA used faulty data to make these harmful recommendations. We request that the AIR Commission hold public roundtables with VA leadership and local Veterans community leaders in West Virginia while assessing the recommendations to understand the concerns and impacts they would have in the local communities,” the letter continued.