Best value attributes for the MSPV program

This column was originally published on Roger Waldron’s blog at The Coalition for Government Procurement and was republished here with permission from the author.

This week, the Coalition for Government Procurement’s Medical/Surgical Subcommittee presented the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) with recommended “Best Value Attributes” for ensuring the delivery of best value health care solutions to our nation’s veterans through the Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor (MSPV) program. You may recall that, almost a year ago, the Coalition was honored to testify before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs during a hearing on this program. Other witnesses included the VA and the Government Accountability Office.

At that time, we noted, among other things, that the MSPV program office serves as the “brains” of the VA’s logistical operations, because it touches essentially all critical VA health care operations and contractors. We articulated the belief that, given this critical role/impact, it is imperative that the MSPV program office be led and managed by clinicians. Clinical leadership will result in well-defined requirements, thereby avoiding these problems, and supporting delivery of best value health care. The Coalition also expressed concern that a single vendor approach, being considered at the time, could give rise to an inherent business conflict, as one company would be responsible for both developing the formulary and delivering the items listed on it. Moreover, it would inhibit the ability of the VA to leverage the competition necessary to bring innovation to our veterans’ health care. You can view the Coalition’s written testimony here.

As the VA continues to develop its strategy for the future of the MSPV program, the Coalition recommends that the program meet the following “best value attributes”:

  1. Have a clinically led requirements program to support a robust Formulary that meets the needs of VA medical facilities.
  2. Include a broad range of products at fair and reasonable prices to provide best value support for health-care provider choice and needs.
  3. Provide rapid product availability so that VA medical centers can access innovative solutions in a timely manner to support veterans’ health-care needs. Product additions should be completed within 30 days of submission by the vendor.
  4. Ensure reasonable administrative costs for both the VA and industry. Avoid unnecessary, duplicative contracting actions, reduce costly and burdensome processes, and take a balanced approach to oversight issues.
  5. Encourage industry participation, as well as competitive pricing, by making the MSPV Formulary a preferred source for VAMCs (and compliance monitored). Use volume commitments as appropriate.
  6. Provide sound business opportunities for industry partners, including Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) and Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs).
  7. Establish and maintain adequate resourcing for the program to ensure that it can execute its mission of delivering best value health care to our nation’s veterans.

As the VA continues its efforts to improve the MSPV program, the Coalition remains committed to working with the VA to support a clinically led program that provides best value solutions to our nation’s veterans. We will continue the dialogue with the VA on the future of the MSPV program at our upcoming Healthcare Forum and Fall Conference on Nov. 7 and 8, and we encourage members to share their thoughts on these “best value attributes” with the Coalition and with the VA at these events.

Roger Waldron is the president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, and host of Off the Shelf on Federal News Radio.