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

November 30, 2016
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Jackie_Walorski_RepresentativeWASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02), a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today applauded final passage of her bill to improve the quality and safety of mobility equipment used by disabled veterans.

“We owe a debt to our disabled veterans, and that includes making sure the mobility equipment they need is safe and reliable,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “With this commonsense bill on its way to becoming law, we will keep disabled veterans safe by updating the VA’s outdated policies and setting comprehensive standards for the mobility equipment veterans depend on in their daily lives.”

“Paralyzed Veterans of America members who enjoy the independence and opportunity that driving an adaptive vehicle offers will be greatly impacted by this legislation,” said Sherman Gillums, Jr., executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “I count myself among them, and I am gratified to see the bill taking us in a direction to make adapted vehicles safer and more functionally efficient for our nation’s injured veterans. We applaud Representative Walorski’s leadership and perseverance on this important legislation, and we look forward to the President signing the bill into law.”

The Veterans Mobility Safety Act (H.R. 3471) will 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 bill now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

Congresswoman Walorski spoke on the House floor after passage of the legislation. Video of her remarks is available here.

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 House on Tuesday passed an amended version of H.R. 3471 unanimously by voice vote after it was passed by the Senate. The final version 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 2015 by Walorski, Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36), 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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