Walorski Bill to Improve Quality and Safety of Disabled Veterans’ Mobility Equipment Passes House

Monday, September 12, 2016

Walorski Bill to Improve Quality and Safety of Disabled Veterans’ Mobility Equipment Passes House

H.R. 3471 Would Update VA’s Quality and Safety Standards for Automobile Adaptive Equipment

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02), a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today applauded House passage of her bill to improve the quality and safety of mobility equipment used by disabled veterans.

H.R. 3471, the Veterans Mobility Safety Act, would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to set comprehensive standards for providers of automobile adaptive equipment, such as wheelchair lifts and reduced-effort steering and braking systems. The legislation passed unanimously by voice vote and now heads to the Senate.

“America’s disabled veterans made tremendous sacrifices in service to their country, and we have a responsibility to ensure the safety and quality of the mobility equipment they depend on in their daily lives,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “This commonsense bill will update the VA’s outdated policies and set comprehensive standards for automobile adaptive equipment providers in order to keep disabled veterans safe.”

Video of Congresswoman Walorski speaking on the House floor in support of the legislation is available here.

“As a physician, I know that safe transportation methods are essential to ensuring disabled veterans can access the programs and support they need to live healthy lives. I was proud to work to pass this bipartisan legislation that will result in safety standards for installation and maintenance of safety mobility equipment,” said Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D., a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. “I am deeply committed to ensuring veterans have access to the resources and services that they have earned in service to our nation.”

“Paralyzed veterans who enjoy the independence and opportunity that driving an adaptive vehicle offers will intimately understand the importance of this legislation,” said Sherman Gillums Jr., executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “These vehicles need to be as safe as possible and function properly, and this bill takes us in the right direction to achieve just that. We applaud Representative Walorski’s leadership and perseverance on this important legislation, and we look forward to its immediate passage in the Senate as well.”

BACKGROUND

Through the VA’s Automobile Adaptive Equipment (AAE) program, eligible disabled veterans have access to automotive mobility products, such as wheelchair lifts and reduced-effort steering and braking in vehicles. However, the VA does not require any type of quality standards for providers to participate in the AAE program, resulting in some cases of inferior providers improperly installing equipment, causing serious safety issues for veterans and motorists.

The final version of H.R. 3471 requires the VA to update its outdated policies on adaptive equipment with comprehensive quality standards developed in close consultation with stakeholders, including veteran service organizations, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, and industry representatives.

H.R. 3471 was originally introduced in September by Walorski, Ruiz, and Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26) to ensure disabled veterans relying on mobility equipment receive the best quality, performance, and safety.

The bill also includes provisions authored by Rep. Sean Duffy (WI-07) to improve care for veterans with hearing aids by allowing certified hearing aid specialists to provide certain hearing aid services.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee and House Committee on Agriculture.

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