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Kuster Leads Efforts to Streamline and Improve Supply Chain to VA Hospitals

Statement

Date: Oct. 5, 2020
Issues: Veterans

Last week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report outlining recommendations to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to fix problems with its program intended to provide VA medical centers with medical and surgical supplies. In 2018, Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) led the effort to have GAO provide specific recommendations on how VA Medical Centers can better obtain the medical supplies necessary to care for Granite State veterans. In the report, GAO makes eight recommendations to the VA, including that it develop a plan for assessing the success of its DOD supply pilot program.

"The VA MSPV program has a long history of many medical supply chain challenges," said Congresswoman Kuster. "I am deeply concerned about the continued delays in delivery times, numerous reports of backorders, and limited selection of critical medical supplies for our nation's veterans. This GAO report outlines clear failures from VA leadership in making the needed improvements to the Medical Supply Vendor Program that would ensure VA medical centers have an efficient, cost-effective way to procure supplies. Instead, they are met with out-of-stock notices and further delays in meeting the health care needs of 9 million veterans. Though the VA plans to launch MSPV 2.0 in 2021, many of the issues that require attention will remain unaddressed unless further action is taken. It is my hope that VA leadership will take the recommendations in this report seriously and implement them before the launch of MSVP 2.0"

"The ongoing pandemic has dramatically exposed the longstanding supply chain issues within the VA that this report speaks to," said Congressman Pappas. "Our veterans should never face delays in their care due to antiquated inventory systems and poor supply chain management with vendors that the VA has repeatedly failed to correct. The VA needs a modern and effective acquisition and inventory system to provide our veterans with the care they have earned, and I will continue working with my colleagues and the VA to ensure these recommendations are implemented."

The VA's Medical-Surgical Prime Vendor-Next Generation (MSPV-NG) program is intended to provide an efficient, cost-effective way for its 170 medical centers to order supplies. The VA aims to use the MSPV-NG program for 90% of medical supply purchases, but the GAO report found that only 11 percent of the centers meet that target. The VA has a 2.0 MSPV program planned, but it is only designed to solve some of these issues. The report also finds that under the 2.0 MSPV-NG program, about a third of supplies will continue to arrive through drop shipments -- supplies shipped from manufacturers rather than local warehouses -- which are often delayed. The GAO report is here, and a summary of highlights from the reporter is here.

Last month, Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01), Chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, held a hearing examining supply chain issues within the VA that continue to undermine the Department's response to COVID-19. These long standing supply chain issues have resulted in shortages of PPE at VA hospitals, forcing the Department to turn to the private sector for help.


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