APMA Director of Young Physicians’ Programs Nichol Salvo, DPM, testified on behalf of APMA before the US House Veterans Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Health, last week. Her focus was on how disparity within the VA hinders recruitment and retention of podiatrists.
“As part of the interdisciplinary team, podiatrists independently manage patients within our respective state scope of practice, and we assume the same clinical, surgical, and administrative responsibilities as any other unsupervised medical and surgical specialty,” Dr. Salvo told the committee. “Despite this equality in work responsibility, there exists a marked disparity in pay and recognition of podiatrists as physicians in the VA.”
Dr. Salvo highlighted the importance of podiatrists to the ongoing care of America’s growing veteran population and underscored the need to address the issue in order to provide the highest quality care to America’s heroes. (Access Dr. Salvo’s full written testimony here. The complete hearing can be viewed here.)
Members of the subcommittee seemed “extremely engaged and some seemed surprised by the information we reported,” Dr. Salvo said of her experience. “The fact that Ranking Member [Julia] Brownley [D-CA] followed up with a question about podiatry recognition tells me that our message resonated.”
Dr. Salvo and members of the Legislative Advocacy department also have participated in more than 50 meetings with key legislators over the past year to inform them about the dire consequences of not recognizing VA podiatrists as physicians. Before that, APMA worked closely with the Under Secretary of the VA, who created a working group to consider the matter. It has become clear that the only solution to the ongoing disparity is through legislation to shift podiatrists into the physicians and dentists pay band. APMA anticipates this legislation will be introduced during the 114th Congress.
APMA needs your continued support to end disparity at the VA. Use APMA's eAdvocacy site to send a letter to your elected officials. Look for continued coverage of this evolving issue from APMA.