The 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting (The National) will officially kick off this morning with an opening address by Rep. Brad Wenstrup, DPM (R-OH), the first podiatrist to serve in the US House of Representatives.
Rep. Wenstrup is now in his third term and has served on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He is currently a member of the Ways and Means Committee.
In 2017, Rep. Wenstrup made national headlines when a shooter opened fire during a congressional baseball team practice. Rep. Wenstrup used his surgical training and his experience in treating combat injuries during the Iraq War to care for Majority Whip Stephen Scalise (R-LA), who was seriously wounded in the incident. Rep. Wenstrup was lauded for heroism again in 2018 when an Amtrak train on which he was traveling struck a garbage truck and he treated injuries on the scene.
Rep. Wenstrup, a colonel in the Army Reserves, introduced the American Podiatric Medical Association’s (APMA) VA Provider Equity Act in the House in the 115th Congress and worked tirelessly for its passage alongside APMA member and staff lobbyists, underscoring the importance of providing quality care to veterans.
Congress passed the legislation in May as part of the John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka, and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018, or MISSION Act, and President Trump signed the bill into law in June.
The VA Provider Equity Act reclassified podiatrists as podiatric surgeons within the VA Health Administration (VHA), placing them in the same pay band as their allopathic and osteopathic peers. This update to decades-old regulations will go far in addressing the dire recruitment and retention issues in the VHA and ensure our veterans receive the best possible foot and ankle care.
The passage of this legislation represents the largest advancement for federally employed podiatrists since 1976, and is the first bill specific to podiatry passed by the United States Congress.
“I’m glad we are able to get this legislation across the finish line and finally tackle the disparities between the VA and the private sector," said Rep. Wenstrup. "This [legislation] will increase the VA’s ability to recruit and retain qualified specialists like podiatrists, and ensure that our veterans get the specific care and treatment they deserve.”