Kaptur Bill to Cultivate Next Generation of Veterans Health Professionals Clears House and Senate, Heads to President’s Desk
Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), 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 bill passed the U.S. Senate last week in a legislative package entitled the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020.
The shortage of Veterans Health Administration (VHA) physicians and medical professionals has been a major problem for VA 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 4th Quarter 2020 VA report published in accordance with the VA Mission Act, the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in Cleveland currently has 153 medical vacancies, the VA Healthcare System in Ann Arbor has 215 medical vacancies, and the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit currently has 69 medical vacancies.
The VET HP Act would direct the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) to create a one-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. I also thank Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) for her support and sponsorship in the Senate as well as Chairman Mark Takano (D-CA) of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee for his leadership and support shepherding this bill through Congress. I call on the President to sign this bipartisan legislation 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 Mark Takano (D-CA) 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 the President to sign it without delay.”
The VET HP Act previously passed the House of Representatives in March, 2019. The VET HP Act passed the U.S. Senate in December 2020 as a part of a broad veterans legislative package and had to be voted on again in the House. Kaptur’s bill has been endorsed by the American Legion and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).