House Passes APMA's VA Legislation

February 9, 2016
young soldier on crutches

House legislation provides greater access to care for veterans.

APMA is pleased to inform its members that HR 3016, the VA omnibus bill that includes APMA’s VA Provider Equity Act, has passed the US House of Representatives. Among other improvements to the VA health-care system, this legislation recognizes podiatrists as physicians and thus provides veterans with greater access to care provided by a podiatrist. Now is the time to use APMA eAdvocacy and urge your senators to do the right thing for veterans and pass the companion bill, S 2175.

“APMA applauds the US House of Representatives for passing this vital legislation to help America’s 22 million veterans,” said APMA President Phillip E. Ward, DPM. “My family has a strong military background and I believe that it is only right that those individuals who have given so much to our country should receive care from the best trained and most highly qualified foot and ankle specialists.”

The VA Provider Equity Act was originally introduced by Rep. Brad Wenstrup, DPM (R-OH) on July 9, 2015. In September of last year, the original bill was combined with more than 30 additional pieces of legislation and amended to become the Veterans Employment, Education, and Healthcare Improvement Act. In November, the Congressional Budget Office released its official report that estimated the bill would reduce federal spending by $815 million over the 2016–2025 period.

APMA testified before the US House Veterans Affair Health Subcommittee about the recruitment and retention issues for podiatrists within the VA, and the legislation received support from the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled Veterans of America, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans Health Administration.

“I am proud of the work APMA has done to move this legislation forward,” said APMA Executive Director and CEO James R. Christina, DPM. “The guidelines that govern the VA pay schedule were written four decades ago, and with this act, the House has recognized the advancements podiatry has made in education and training since that time.”

The passage of this legislation will help veterans like Montana-native Michael Tolomeo-Atwood. Tolomeo-Atwood joined the Navy at 17 and served for five years and is now a disabled veteran reliant on care by a podiatrist. He currently travels three and a half hours to receive treatment because there is no VA facility employing a podiatrist closer to his home, and it can take him up to two months to schedule an appointment.

While the Senate has yet to schedule a vote on S 2175, it has already agreed to engage in negotiations with the House on a compromise bill. APMA urges its members to use APMA eAdvocacy today to tell your senators to follow the example of the House and pass this common sense legislation for the sake of veterans like Tolomeo-Atwood.

re: APMA strategic plan; Advocate; Educate.

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