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Mr. FILNER. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5145, the Assuring Quality Care for Veterans Act.
I thank my colleague from California (Mr. McNerney) for his diligent advocacy on behalf of our veterans. His talent and hard work have culminated in this important piece of legislation.
Many key health care professionals require continuing professional education in order to maintain their licensure. Such education can be costly, and the VA has long reimbursed up to $1,000 annually to physicians and dentists. This reimbursement program has been an important part of the VA's efforts to recruit and to retain high-quality health care personnel. Moreover, it ensures that the VA employees are well-informed and knowledgeable about advances or new information in their chosen fields.
Organizational efforts to improve access to knowledge and opportunities have been shown to improve job satisfaction. However, since its inception, this program has only been open to physicians and dentists. It unfairly excludes many key health care providers who face similar licensing requirements. This act would correct this inequity by expanding the program to such key health care personnel as nurses, pharmacists, and physical therapists.
This legislation would recognize that the maximum reimbursement rate of $1,000 is outdated, its having been unchanged for nearly two decades. H.R. 5145 would reflect inflationary increases since the last update by increasing the cap to $1,600 annually.
Madam Speaker, I am proud to support this legislation. Not only does it recognize the hard work of health care providers in the VA system, but it also empowers the VA to hire and retain talented health care personnel and to offer them the tools they need to remain extremely skilled and knowledgeable.
I would urge the support of all of my colleagues, and I reserve the balance of my time.
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