Wednesday, June 18, 2014

APA Urges Members to Show Their Support for Bills on Psychiatric Workforce at VA


Your voice is needed! APA is asking psychiatrists to urge their members of Congress and senators to cosponsor bills H.R. 4234/S. 2425, the bipartisan Ensuring Veterans Resiliency Act, which seeks to secure a stronger and more stable psychiatric workforce in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Veterans face significant mental health challenges, yet only half of first-time patients in the VA receive a full mental health evaluation within the prescribed 14 days, at least partly because of a shortage of clinicians, including psychiatrists. APA believes that the shortage and turnover of psychiatrists are factors contributing to the inability of the VA to deliver mental health services when needed.

To remedy that shortfall, APA supports the legislation, which would create a three-year pilot program to encourage at least 10 psychiatrists per year to enter full-time, long-term employment with the VA by offering medical school loan repayments of up to $60,000 per year. The bill also calls for a study of pay discrepancies among psychiatrists within the VA. "Access to appropriate and timely psychiatric care for our wounded veterans is essential," said APA President Paul Summergrad, M.D. "This legislation will increase access to psychiatrists, and I encourage State Associations, District Branches, and members to reach out to their elected leadership in Congress."

APA members may write their elected officials through an Action Alert posted by APA’s Department of Government Relations.

For more details in Psychiatric News on the legislation, see the article, “Bill Seeks to Boost Number of Psychiatrists in VA.”

(Image: Susan Montgomery/Shutterstock.com)


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