House Passes Kaptur Bill to Cultivate Next Generation of Veterans Health Professionals
Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan H.R. 1271, the Veterans’-Specific Education for Tomorrow’s Health Professionals Act of 2019 (VET HP Act).
The shortage of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) physicians and medical professionals has been a major problem for medical centers across the country, including in Northern Ohio, forcing VA facilities to provide care with fewer staff than are medically necessary to properly care for our nation’s veterans. According to a recent VA report, the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in Cleveland currently has 176 medical vacancies, VA Healthcare System in Ann Arbor has 227 medical vacancies, and the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit currently has 139 medical vacancies.
The VET HP Act would direct the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) to create a three year pilot program in at least five VA medical centers for pre-med students to gain clinical observation experience, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of veterans’ specific health needs and experiences, while creating a viable pipeline of future medical professionals in the process.
“By expanding opportunities for future physicians interested in serving our nation’s veterans, this legislation will lay the groundwork to help fill the roughly 30,000 medical vacancies at VHA by creating a viable pipeline of future physicians and medical professionals,” said Rep. Kaptur. “This bill will prioritize undergraduate students specializing in a health profession where there is an identified VHA staffing shortage, as well as students in medically underserved areas, first-generation college students, students referred by minority-serving institutions, and of course veterans. This legislation is the definition of a win-win. I thank our veterans’ service organizations, including The American Legion and Paralyzed Veterans of America, for supporting this legislation and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to advance the VET HP Act to the President’s desk without delay.”
“The VET HP Act is a sensible bill which will help fill the tens of thousands of vacancies across VA, improve the quality and timeliness of care for veterans, and move us one step closer to achieving our shared vision of a stronger VA,” said Chairman Takano of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “I’m grateful to Rep. Kaptur for her work addressing the serious staffing shortages at VA while ensuring students from underserved communities are able to earn the clinical observation hours necessary for medical school and gain experience caring for our nation’s veterans. I urge its swift passage in the Senate.”
The VET HP Act previously passed the House of Representatives on September 24, 2018 but had to be re-introduced in the new Congress. Kaptur’s bill has been endorsed by the American Legion and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).