Promoting research partnerships to improve veterans’ health

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Advocacy & Government Relations

NAVREF is an active participant in advocacy efforts to secure robust support for VA research and development.  This entails lobbying for an increase in the annual appropriation of VA medical and prosthetic research account, which is separate from VA health care appropriation.  Also, when warranted, NAVREF works with House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees to highlight pertinent research and education issues.  Finally, these committees also are critical to the statute that authorizes NPCs.

NAVREF coordinates its funding advocacy efforts with the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA), a coalition of more than 80 medical specialty, patient advocacy, scientific and academic organizations committed to high quality care for veterans. 

NAVREF Advocacy Agenda

NAVREF believes it is time to update our enabling legislation to clarify areas of confusion and/or misinterpretation.  We believe these changes will improve the ability of VA-affiliated nonprofit corporations (NPCs) to satisfy Congressional intent to support VA research and education activities and bring greater benefit to Veterans.

 Flexible Funding Mechanism – a key aspect of the original legislation is the opening sentence, “The Secretary may authorize the establishment at any Department medical center of a nonprofit corporation to provide a flexible funding mechanism for the conduct of approved research and education at the medical center.”  One significant component of this flexibility is the ability of NPCs to accept non-VA appropriated funding under authority of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).  The statute should be updated to specify that transferring funds from VA to NPC by MOA has the force of a contract in the eyes of the Economy Act for purposes of obligating funds.

 Independence – the statute states that a NPC is not “…owned or controlled by the United States” or “an agency or instrumentality of the United States.”  However, the VA and other entities frequently question the authority of NPCs to operate independently.  For example, the NIH Grants Policy Statement permits academic affiliates the authority to pay principal investigators up to a 60-hour work week, but specifically denies this authority to the NPCs because of a perception of “inter-dependence.”  Furthermore, the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish or disestablish a NPC is often cited by VA personnel when imposing controls that limit the flexibility of NPCs.  The statute should be updated to specify that while NPCs are clearly related to VA medical centers and designed to support research and education activities at VA medical centers, they remain independent and autonomous nonprofit corporations.

The VA Office of Research and Development contracted for a study of this issue that is scheduled for completion in September 2018.  While we hope the outcome of this study will be a more uniform approach to NPC administration of federal awards, we encourage Congress to closely monitor this issue.

FOVA activities including:

  • Developing recommendations for VA research funding
  • Monitoring the federal budget/appropriations process
  • Meeting with key House and Senate committee members and their staffs
  • Organizing congressional briefings
  •  Maintaining a roster of organizations that endorse FOVA’s funding recommendations
  • Recommending report language on topics of importance to VA research
  • Testifying before the appropriations subcommittees
  • Sending letters to members of Congress at key times during the budget/appropriations cycle

For up-to-date information on the funding needs of VA research and raising awareness of the VA research program, please go to the FOVA website: http://www.friendsofva.org.



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  • 24 Nov 2020 11:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FY 2021 Appropriations. Senate Republicans released an explanatory statement and text of their FY 2021 spending bill, including a total of $800 million for VA research, which would provide no increase over the comparable FY 2020 funding level. The press statement and highlights prepared by the committee staff are also available.

    The FOVA Executive Committee sent a Nov. 16 letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders (also attached) urging passage of at least $840 million for the VA Medical and Prosthetic Research program in FY 2021, as included in the House-passed MilCon-VA spending bill. Please forward this letter to your Hill contacts urging appropriators to increase the VA research budget during this critical time for medical research.

    Bicameral appropriations leaders are working to negotiate topline spending levels for all 12 FY 2021 spending bills in hopes of finalizing an omnibus appropriations package by the end of the calendar year. The current continuing resolution is set to expire on December 11.

    VA COVID-19 Research Activities. The VA Office of Research and Development publishes regular communications about its COVID-19 research efforts. The ORD webpage “VA Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic” is updated regularly, and the recent Research Currents edition focused on COVID-19 efforts at VA.

    Clinical Repurposing Funding Opportunity. The global nonprofit Cures Within Reach recently launched the Clinical Repurposing for Veterans Initiative.  The program’s goal is to identify new medical treatments for already approved medications and devices to impact high-priority health concerns for veterans and active military. Cures Within Reach is launching its Clinical Repurposing for Veterans Initiative with a Request for Proposals (RFP) specifically for repurposing research in any disease area that will benefit veterans. Investigator-initiated proposals can come from any US-based institution, and at least one project will be selected to receive a $50,000 grant from Cures Within Reach and its funding partner, the Kahlert Foundation for a clinical repurposing trial. Additional details are in the attached press release or at cureswithinreach.org.


  • 6 Oct 2020 1:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    On Sep 30, 2020, The House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) held a hearing to review the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) intention to go live on October 24 with its new EHR system, from Cerner. VA witnesses emphasized they are fully ready for that date, with employees trained and Cerner support staff in place. VA EHR modernization lead John Windom also told the committee the Department has enough money for its plans throughout the coming fiscal year. The pandemic has delayed the program’s implementation, but the VA expects to still finish within the ten-year timeline.


  • 29 Sep 2020 10:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Introduced by Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL-6) in January 2020, HR 5605 dubbed the United States-Israel PTSD Collaborative Research Act, is currently cosponsored by 87 members of the House, but still in the very early stages of moving to the House VA Committee. The bill aims to take collective research and experience to develop best-practices in research, diagnosing, and treating PTSD.

    Specifically, HR 5605 would establish a grant program for collaborative efforts between the United States and Israel to advance research on post-traumatic stress disorders. The Department of Defense, in coordination with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of State, would award grants to eligible academic institutions or nonprofit entities in the United States.

    Work would be conducted by eligible entities which includes nonprofits conducting research, and an entity in Israel under a joint research agreement.

    NPC leaders are encouraged to reach out to their members of Congress and urge their support for HR 5605.


  • 28 Sep 2020 9:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Despite the legislative challenges presented by COVID-19 in the past months, the U.S. House passed Senate legislation, S. 785 on September 23 to help prevent veteran suicide. 

    Originally introduced by Senator Jon Tester, D-MT, S. 785 aims to prevent veteran suicide by expanding access to care, services and support for at-risk individuals within the VA healthcare system and in their local communities. The bill includes a subcomponent dubbed the Fox provision which is a suicide prevention grant program that would include community resources in veteran care.

    U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., who chairs the House committee on Veterans’ Affairs, noted the committee has passed 15 pieces of legislation to address veterans’ mental health conditions.


  • 25 May 2020 1:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research asked Congress on May 21st to support an additional $50 million towards Veterans Affairs COVID-19 research. As many know, the VA Office of Research and Development has been working tirelessly to quickly setup trials and studies aimed at finding solutions to fight COVID-19. This shift of effort has also required as shift of resources which is where FOVA has come in to play. Read more about this effort here in their letter to Congress.  

  • 30 Mar 2020 9:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Please click here to read NAVREF's analysis of HR 748. 

  • 1 May 2019 2:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As some of you may have seen, the House Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee this afternoon released text of its draft FY 2020 spending bill and an accompanying press release. The subcommittee is scheduled to mark up its draft spending bill today, Wednesday, May 1 at 3 p.m. in HT-2 in the Capitol (the subcommittee also will be airing the markup live via webcast).

    Based on a preliminary review of the text, the draft bill appears to provide a total of $840 million for the VA Medical and Prosthetic Research program in FY 2020, in line with FOVA’s funding request for FY 2020. This total funding level would represent a $61 million or 7.8 percent increase over the comparable FY 2019 funding level.

    Additional details will be available in report language once the full House Appropriations Committee considers the spending bill, currently expected on Thursday, May 9.

    Also of note, both House and Senate “Dear Colleague” letters for the VA research program are now posted on the FOVA website. Again, the House letter was led by Reps. Hastings (D-Fla.) and González-Colón (R-P.R.), and closed with 84 signatories, an increase from 67 in FY 2019. The Senate letter was led by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and closed with 23 signatories, an increase from 19 in FY 2019. Please be sure to thank your delegation for their support of VA research!


  • 5 Apr 2019 11:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We need you to act! Advocacy plays a major role in how we ultimately operate and NAVREF needs everyone in our extended to community to reach out to your legislators and their staff to voice your opinion and educate them on the following topics: 

    1. The Senate needs to support more robust VA research funding for Fiscal Year 2020. If you haven't already, please reach out to you Senator's office and tell them that you support the "Dear Colleague" letter in circulation that calls for $834 million for VA research appropriations. This number is supported by the Independent Budget and by the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research. Contact the NAVREF office for more information. 
    2. H.R. 1947 was introduced on March 28, 2019, by Rep Roe (R-TN-1) and co-sponsored by Rep Brindisi (D-NY-22), and has already been referred to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs (of which Rep Roe is the Ranking Member).  We’re encouraging you to please reach out to your House Representative to encourage them to support passage of this bill (especially if they sit on the House VA Committee). This bill will enable NPCs to handle Interagency Agreement funding transferred to them by VA without regard to fiscal year limitations (the funds will have no expiration date).  It allows NPCs to continue serving as the “flexible funding mechanisms” originally authorized by Congress in 1988 and codifies how we have been operating for the past 30+ years. A draft email is available is being circulated among NPC executive directors. Please let us know if you haven't seen it yet!


  • 25 Feb 2019 9:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA) coalition is thankful for Congress’s recent investment in the VA Medical and Prosthetic Research Program, allowing the program to make up lost ground after nearly a decade of underfunding. FOVA’s FY 2020 recommendation of $840 million for VA research would allow for meaningful growth above inflation and continued investment in groundbreaking programs like the Million Veteran Program (MVP), while also supporting VA research on chronic and emerging needs of our nation’s veterans. Sustained and steady VA research funding growth is important to help ensure the best return on investment in improving the health of veterans and all Americans.

    Read the full recommendation here.

  • 19 Apr 2018 12:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Although the FY18 budget still remains to be settled, FOVA will move ahead and continue to advocate for the FY18 request of $722 million for VA research, and $823 million for FY19. The FY19 calculation is based on the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index adjusted for inflation, a second back-up repository for MVP, VA Secretary Priorities, and for the VA-Department of Energy Partnership to process MVP data. NAVREF is committed to advocating for these requests across FY18 and FY19, and will continue meeting with members in both chambers of Congress.

    UPDATE: With FY18 budget approval, FOVA has published an updated and final FY19 budget recommendation. You can download the one pager here.

     


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