U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) introduced legislation Sept. 29 to assist the Department of Veterans Affairs in recruiting doctors to Wisconsin VA facilities.
The Tomah VA Medical Center has been forced to cut back services due to problems recruiting physicians. Also, a number of VA clinics, including ones in Wisconsin Rapids and Wausau, have been forced to turn away patients in recent years due to staffing shortages.
“In Wisconsin’s third district we have seen a number of VA facilities turn our veterans away and stop offering vital services due to a shortage of physicians. That is unacceptable. This is a matter of fairness to our veterans – they served our country, and they deserve proper health care. Through more recruiting tools to bring good doctors to Wisconsin, we can better fulfill our promise to our veterans of quality health care,” Kind said in a statement.
The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Reid Ribble (WI-08). It designates the Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). By making this designation, it allows these sites to compete for National Health Service Corps fellows, which is a program that pays student loan repayment or gives scholarships to doctors, dentists, mental health professionals, nurses, or medical students who pledge to practice in a HPSA for at least two years.