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Hartzler Bipartisan Bill to Enhance VA Hiring of Health Care Providers

February 13, 2019
Press Release
Measure will make VA more competitive in hiring top-quality physicians and health care providers to care for America’s veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) introduced bipartisan legislation to make the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) more competitive in recruiting top-quality physicians to care for America’s veterans. The bill authorizes the VHA to begin the recruitment and hiring process for health care providers up to two years prior to the completion of their required training, placing VHA on a hiring timeline that is competitive with the private sector. The bill also releases physicians from “non-compete agreements” for the purpose of serving in the VHA and updates the minimum standard for VHA physicians to include the completion of a postgraduate medical residency.

 

“Great health care depends on great doctors, and America’s veterans deserve the best,” said Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler.  “Recruitment and retention of highly qualified health providers continues to be a challenge for the VHA. To help them address this shortfall, it is essential that we remove any barriers so the VA can hire the best medical professionals.  Veterans’ hospitals have been put at a disadvantage in the way they can recruit, and this has gone on for too long.  This bill finally puts the VHA on a level playing field with the private sector when it comes to hiring and recruiting timelines. Additionally, this legislation allows physicians who want to transition from the private sector to the VA, to do so without fear of reprisal. It is my honor to introduce these common sense reforms that will improve the quality of care our veterans receive.”

 

In 2018, the VHA reported over 40,000 vacant positions.  Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin has said, “[hiring is] the single most challenging thing that I know of in VA.”  The VHA is the nation’s largest integrated health care network, serving over 9 million veterans at 1,250 health care facilities.

 

Sherman Gillums Jr., Chief Advocacy Officer for American Veterans (AMVETS) voiced support for Hartzler’s bill, saying “AMVETS, through our HEAL Program, leads at the front lines of advocacy in veterans’ healthcare.  For this reason, we appreciate the importance of having top-quality physicians in the Department of Veterans Affairs delivering care to our nation’s veterans, particularly those with unique needs.  Attracting the best providers can only happen by removing barriers, such as non-compete agreements and bureaucratic on-boarding processes, from the equation.  This bill, if passed, with make the VA more competitive in its hiring efforts, which will in turn make it an ideal destination for those who want to use their high-level skills, education, and experience to heal American veterans.”

 

Congresswoman Hartzler’s legislation is endorsed by many other veterans’ organizations, including Paralyzed Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Association of the United States Navy, and the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America. Representatives Lou Correa (D-CA), David Rouzer (R-NC), Mike Bost (R-IL), Alex Mooney (R-WV), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), and Joe Wilson (R-SC) have signed on to this measure as original cosponsors.

 

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Interested members of the media may contact Anna Swick at anna.swick@mail.house.gov. For the latest official portrait of Congresswoman Hartzler, please click here.