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Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Advances Boozman-Backed Bill to Bolster Recruitment and Retention of VA Workforce

Includes VACANT Act Provision to Prevent Extended Absence of Medical Center Directors

Feb 16 2023

WASHINGTON— The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Thursday passed legislation championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) that would bolster recruitment and retention of clinicians at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The VA Clinician Appreciation, Recruitment, Education, Expansion, and Retention Support (CAREERS) Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Boozman and Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT), would provide the VA with more tools to compete for highly qualified medical personnel, support training for current and future VA clinicians to ensure veterans receive the highest quality of care, and provide more oversight and public transparency on VA’s efforts to address vacancies. 

“This is an important step to delivering care and services veterans earned. Investing in VA personnel and expanding the workforce strengthens our ability to better support the men and women who served in uniform,” Boozman said.

The legislation would also limit the detailing of medical center directors to different positions within the VA. The bill would require the VA Secretary to ensure a plan is in place to fill vacant medical center director positions within 180 days of detailing.

Click here to watch Boozman’s remarks on the VA CAREERS Act

Among its many provisions the VA CAREERS Act will:

  • Modernize the VA’s antiquated pay system for physicians and other high-level clinicians, which will particularly benefit rural and other hard-to-hire markets;
  • Pay for licensure exam costs for future clinicians participating in the VA scholarship programs;
  • Expand eligibility for more health care staff to be reimbursed for ongoing professional education costs; and
  • Increase and fine-tune the VA’s workforce data reporting requirements to help the VA and Congress be better informed on how to improve the hiring and onboarding process for future employees enterprise-wide.

The VA CAREERS Act expand on Boozman’s commitment to creating policies for better recruitment and retention of key VA personnel amid a tightening labor market. Last Congress, the senator championed the PACT Act, legislation signed into law that delivers toxic-exposed veterans their earned care and benefits, that included several provisions to bolster VA’s workforce, especially in rural areas.