Legislation solves simple problem

Monday, July 25, 2016

In an article posted to your website on June 1, 2016, titled “Accessibility groups wrangle over specifics of bill,” there were a number of statements included that were erroneously reported, and we, therefore, thought it paramount to send in this clarification.

First and foremost, after doing a thorough search, the organization The Independent Auto Lift Dealers of America referenced in the article is being called into question, as we were unable to locate any such organization. However, throughout the article, the association is referenced, as well as a link  to a letter authored by this association to Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Second, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) mentioned in the article is real, and is a non-profit member organization that is governed by a board of 13 directors all with equal voting power. It represents small, mid-sized, and large companies that comprise the membership of more than 600 independent businesspeople, manufacturers, mobility equipment dealers, and driver rehabilitation specialists located in the U.S. and Canada who are dedicated to expanding the opportunities for people with disabilities, which includes many veterans.

Third, it appears that the sources mentioned in the article and letter have misinterpreted the proposed congressional legislation, H.R. 3471, the Veterans Mobility Safety Act of 2015. The letter states that the association’s installers have been “trained and certified by the manufacturers of the equipment.” Based on what is actually written in the bill, it seems that this objecting party is already “in compliance” per the description of services in its own letter.  If this is the case, then why is the party objecting so strenuously? What would this legislation change, if it is already in compliance? 

Fourth, H.R. 3471 does, in fact, state that driveway vehicle modifications for adaptive equipment will be permitted. Clear language is specifically enumerated right there in the legislation. 

Fifth, nowhere in the bill is an organization specified as the certifying body; rather the secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is to establish minimum standards.

This legislation is attempting to solve a very simple problem: There are currently no standards or safety provisions that must be met by vendors of adaptive services and equipment provided to this country’s veterans and paid for by U.S. tax dollars. The request by the Independent Auto Lift Dealers of America seems to be a request for special treatment by the VA so that they can continue to operate without having to meet minimum standards designed to protect veterans. NMEDA believes that this is the wrong approach, that no company’s bottom line is more important than the safety of veterans, and that as such, there should be enforceable minimal standards for vendors participating in the Automobile Adaptive Equipment program administered by the VA. 

For far too long, the VA has allowed unqualified vendors to perform potentially unsafe and unreliable vehicle modifications and equipment installations to participate in the AAE program. The Veterans Mobility Safety Act of 2015 will put an end to the dangerous and costly practice. It will set in motion the actions necessary to formulate standards. Without standards, the quality and safety of VA-funded modifications is directly compromised.

—Dave Hubbard, CEO, National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association, Tampa, Fla.