WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, recently introduced the Physician Ambassadors Helping Veterans Act. The legislation would enable volunteer physicians to serve in Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities that are struggling with appointment wait times or staffing shortages.
“The Physician Volunteer Ambassadors Helping Veterans Act will allow qualified physicians across the country to give of their time and expertise to help veterans struggling to access quality health care – whether a veteran has waited far too long for an appointment or medical services are not available close to where they call home,” Sen. Moran said. “At a time when veterans struggle to access quality health care, my hope is this legislation will offer physicians the opportunity to answer their own call of duty in service to veterans who deserve the best health care our nation has to offer.”
Though VA possesses the authority to allow physician volunteers to work in its VA medical facilities, bureaucratic red tape often prevents many physicians from volunteering their services. This legislation will make certain the VA uses its existing authority to support qualified physician volunteers from local communities who would like to dedicate a minimum of 40 volunteer hours per year. It would allow medical communities to help veterans, ease some of the pressure on permanent VA staff, and enable VA staff to regain their focus on providing quality health care to our veterans.
The volunteer doctors will be granted credentials and privilages to practice at a VA facility if they agree to work with out compensation and commit to serving a minimum of 40 hours in the facility during the 12-month period. The director of such a medical facility shall approve and accept the services of physician.
The legislation. introduced Nov. 20, is supported by the Kansas Medical Society. It has been referred to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
A similar bill was introduced Nov. 12 in the House of Representatives by Congressmen John Culberson (R-Texas) and Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas). It was forwarded to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.