House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee Approves Kuster Bill to Help Veterans Become Physicians After Serving
Washington, DC – This morning, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health approved Congresswoman Kuster’s legislation, H.R. 3974, the Grow Our Own Directive: Physician Assistant Employment and Education Act of 2015. The bill would create opportunities for veteran education and employment, and help solve the primary care provider shortage crisis at the VA. Kuster testified in support of the bill last week during a Subcommittee hearing, where she urged Members of the Subcommittee to consider the legislation.
“Our veterans deserve the utmost highest quality of care when they return home, and yet extreme staffing shortages at the VA have created roadblocks for many of our veterans to receive the health services they need. That’s why last week, I urged the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health to consider my bill, H.R. 3974, which will help address these shortages,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “My bill will help veterans with previous medical or military health experience become physician assistants at the VA after they have served. I thank the Subcommittee for swiftly responding to my request for consideration and for forwarding this bill to the full Committee. I urge Committee Leadership to also schedule a markup of this bill in the full Veterans’ Affairs Committee and then send it on to the floor for a vote. Our veterans cannot wait.”
Kuster’s bill would help address the staffing shortages currently plaguing the VA, and would offer valuable education and job opportunities for veterans in the civilian workforce. The five-year pilot program this bill would create would offer 35 scholarships per year to veterans to cover the costs of obtaining master’s degrees in physician assistant studies or similar areas. Veterans who would qualify for the program are those who have previous medical or military health experience that they gained while serving in the Armed Forces; those who have received a certificate, associate degree, baccalaureate degree, master’s degree, or post-baccalaureate training in a science relating to health care; those who have participated in the delivery of health care services or related medical services; and those who do not have a doctorate in medicine, osteopathy, or dentistry.
Kuster has served on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee since taking office, and she has long advocated for both increased job opportunities for veterans and measures to improve staffing at the VA. She has pushed for legislation to increase contracting opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses, and she has held veteran job fairs for local New Hampshire veterans in various locations across the state. Furthermore, in 2014, she helped introduce the Underserved Veterans Access to Health Care Act, which would have added 2,000 medical residency positions at VA hospitals in communities facing physician shortages. Kuster was also instrumental in the passage of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, which created the Choice Card program and aimed to dramatically increase veteran access to care.