Amata takes part in oversight hearing of VA COVID-19 response
Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Aumua Amata has taken part in a recent oversight hearing in the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to evaluate the effectiveness of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) in response to COVID-19.
“The pandemic has impacted every government department and the people they serve, certainly including our Veterans,” said Aumua Amata. “These circumstances have limited their ability to travel or follow their plans regarding treatment and appointments, and caused unexpected financial considerations, to name just a few concerns during this time.”
The June hearing was conducted virtually for many Members, including Congresswoman Amata, who has been participating regularly in various remote congressional hearings and other calls and conferences from American Samoa, as the House has been in a District work period.
The Full Committee oversight hearing was entitled, "Assessing VA's Response to the COVID-I9 Pandemic: 90 Days Later." The Committee examined VA efforts throughout the ongoing public health emergency to care for veterans.
The Committee discussed Veterans health statistics, and an extensive timeline of COVID events and VA responses. Members of Congress commended many aspects of the VA effort, particularly rapid growth in the use of telehealth services nationally, and successful cooperative projects with FEMA, while examining challenges with supply chain management and PPE availability.
Congresswoman Amata addressed questions to Dr. Richard Stone, Executive in Charge, Veterans Health Administration, to facilitate the conversation on telehealth and mental health care access. She urged continued emphasis on reducing wait times, catching up to backlog, following up on mental health needs, ensuring no one is overlooked, and prioritizing urgent needs.
During the hearing, the Committee discussed five major topics: VA's COVID-19 testing and contact tracing capabilities and protocols; VA guidance for veterans and employees regarding self-isolation and self-quarantine; challenges VA has faced with supply chain and inventory management for personal protective equipment (PPE); assistance VA is providing to State Veterans Homes, community nursing homes, and prisons; and VA's preparations for possible resurgences in COVID-19 infection rates during coming months.
VA COVID-19 health information is available at https://www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/index.asp
VA mental health assistance is available at https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/coronavirus/
Veterans crisis and suicide line is available at https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/