Warner urges VA to develop cohesive COVID-19 testing strategy

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U.S. Sen. Mark Warner joined Senate colleagues in calling on the VA to ramp up COVID-19 testing at facilities nationwide as part of a national testing plan.

“We write to ask the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which has the nation’s largest health care system, to play a proactive role in supporting an expansive nationwide testing program for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). VA should establish a national plan across VA to facilitate testing for the veteran community and VA health care providers, as one element of the national strategic testing plan required by the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. As part of a larger national strategy, a VA effort focused on expansive testing is critical to achieving widespread testing across the nation,” the senators wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.

A proactive national strategy by the VA would, for example, expand, centralize, and coordinate the ordering and distribution of critical supplies and testing kits to all VA facilities nationwide. This expansion would not only increase VA capacity to provide relief for the veteran community; it would also free up resources at non-VA hospitals to focus on caring for civilians.

“In support of a nationwide testing strategy, VA can be a great asset in achieving the kind of testing scale-up necessary to safely open the economy successfully and stave off or address a second wave. As the largest integrated health care system in the country, overseeing more than 1,200 health care facilities across the United States, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is well-positioned to help our nation amplify our testing strategy,” they continued.

In the letter, the senators outline recommendations for producing a testing strategy, including making testing kits available at all VA facilities, including non-hospitals; testing both symptomatic and asymptomatic veterans; providing more detailed testing data on VA’s website; and developing a plan to provide a sufficient workforce to carry out the strategy, as well as equipping them with proper supplies and equipment, including personal protective equipment.

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