Bill would increase VA medical resident ranks

Two thousand medical residency positions at Veterans Affairs Department hospitals would be created under legislation introduced by three Democratic members of Congress.

Reps. Dina Titus (Nev.), Mark Takano (Calif.) and Beto O’Rourke (Tex.) said their “Underserved Veterans Access to Health Care Act” would increase the availability of timely care for veterans, particularly in areas with physician shortages.

HINES, IL - MAY 30: A sign marks the entrance to the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital on May 30, 2014 in Hines, Illinois. Hines, which is located in suburban Chicago, has been linked to allegations that administrators kept secret waiting lists at Veterans Administration hospitals so hospital executives could collect bonuses linked to meeting standards for rapid treatment. Today, as the scandal continued to grow, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized in public and then resigned from his post. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) HINES, IL – MAY 30: A sign marks the entrance to the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital on May 30, 2014 in Hines, Ill. Hines, which is located in suburban Chicago, has been linked to allegations that administrators kept secret waiting lists at Veterans Administration hospitals so hospital executives could collect bonuses linked to meeting standards for rapid treatment. Today, as the scandal continued to grow, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized in public and then resigned from his post. (cott Olson/Getty Images)

Long waiting times for veterans and attempts to cover-up waiting lists led to an ongoing scandal at the VA that resulted in the resignation of the VA secretary and continuing hearings in Congress.

“The VA’s recent internal audit of scheduling practices at VA health facilities found that the number one barrier to providing veterans with timely access to care is the lack of providers available to see patients,” said a statement announcing the legislation.

The bill “will help meet an immediate need in the VA system and take a step toward addressing the long-term, nationwide physician shortage,” Titus said.

“We know that the shortage of physicians at our VA facilities plays a large part in the long wait times our veterans are forced to endure,” Takano added.

“When we have a crisis in access to care we should take steps like these to address it,” said  O’Rourke.

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.

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