June 24, 2014
Washington, D.C. – Yesterday Rep. Dina Titus (NV-01), Ranking Member of the House Veterans Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41), Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee, and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (TX-16) introduced the Underserved Veterans Access to Health Care Act, which would increase veterans’ access to timely care by adding 2,000 medical residency positions at VA hospitals in communities, like Las Vegas, El Paso, and San Bernardino County, which are facing a significant physician shortage. The VA’s recent internal audit of scheduling practices at VA health facilities found that the number one barrier to providing veterans with timely access to care is the lack of providers available to see patients. This is a significant problem not only within the VA medical system but also in private care facilities across the country. According to the American Medical Association, the United States will face a shortage of 62,900 physicians in 2015 and a shortage of 130,000 by 2025. The Underserved Veterans Access to Health Care Act would help reverse this trend and reduce unacceptable wait times for veterans by strengthening investment in physician training in communities with the greatest physician shortages. Doctors have been found to stay in the communities where they do their residency.
“By increasing the number of new doctors being trained, the Underserved Veterans Access to Health Care Act will help meet an immediate need in the VA system and take a step toward addressing the long-term, nationwide physician shortage,” said Rep. Dina Titus. “This is critically important for areas like Nevada which ranks among the states with the lowest number of physicians relative to its population, including: 46th for general and family practitioners, 50th for psychiatrists, and 51st for specialty surgeons.”
“We know that the shortage of physicians at our VA facilities plays a large part in the long wait times our veterans are forced to endure. With the AMA reporting that the United States will face a shortage of nearly 63,000 doctors next year and a shortage of 130,000 by 2025, we need to be doing more to increase the access to care for our heroes,” said Rep. Mark Takano. “The Underserved Veterans Access to Health Care Act will help address that shortage by adding 2,000 medical residency positions at VA hospitals in select communities that are lacking doctors. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Representatives Titus and O’Rourke and hope that Congress will do the right thing and address this critical issue.”
"This bill would help more El Paso veterans to see a doctor in a shorter period of time by allowing VA Medical Centers to increase the number of physician resident positions at their hospitals," said Rep. Beto O’Rourke. "When we have a crisis in access to care we should take steps like these to address it."