Hartzler, Correa, and Bost Introduce Bill to Enhance VA Hiring of Health Care Providers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA), and Congressman Mike Bost (R-IL) introduced bipartisan legislation today that would 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 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.
“America’s veterans deserve the best health care available. We want to remove barriers the VA faces in hiring physicians to care for those who have served our country,” said Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler. “Our bill puts veterans’ hospitals on a level playing field with the private sector when it comes to recruiting timelines, and allows physicians that want to depart the private sector and serve at the VA to do so without fear of reprisal. I’m pleased to advance these common sense reforms on behalf of our veterans, who have done so much for our nation.”
Rep. Correa said, “Great healthcare depends on great doctors. I am proud to join Congresswoman Hartzler in finally addressing the thousands of vacancies in veterans’ hospitals around the country by providing practical and common sense solutions already at work in the private sector. This legislation will help remove the barriers preventing great doctors from joining the VA and ensure we have enough highly-trained medical professional to care for our veterans. We must do everything we can to ensure our veterans have the resources and skilled doctors they need. We owe them all.”
The American Legion has voiced their support for the bill as well, saying, “The VA Hiring Enhancement Act will help address the shortcomings in recruitment and retention of highly qualified physicians.” The bill, addressing health care within the VA system, is especially welcomed by some at a time when Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) like American Legion have expressed growing concern about the privatization of veterans’ health care.
The bill comes at a time when the VHA reports over 30,000 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.
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