Rep. Dina Titus and two of her colleagues on the House Veterans Affairs Committee proposed a bill this week to create 2,000 residency programs at VA facilities in Las Vegas and elsewhere to curb a shortage of doctors.
The measure announced Monday by the Nevada Democrat, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., and Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, reasons that doctors are more apt to stay in areas where they complete their residency programs and therefore will be more likely to continue work at VA medical facilities.
A news release from Titus says the legislation titled, the Underserved Veterans Access to Health Care Act, would increase veterans’ opportunities to timely health care by adding 2,000 residency positions at VA hospitals in areas such as the Las Vegas Valley, El Paso, Texas, and San Bernardino County, Calif.
The lack of doctors increases wait times for veterans to receive health care, according to a recent audit of scheduling practices at VA facilities.
The American Medical Association projects a nationwide shortage of 62,900 physicians in 2015. If the trend continues there will be a shortage of 130,000 physicians by 2025.
Nevada is among the lowest ranking states for number of physicians relative to population. Currently Nevada ranks 46th for general and family practitioners, and 50th for psychiatrists.
“By increasing the number of new doctors being trained, the (act) will help meet an immediate need in the VA system and take a step toward addressing the long-term, nationwide physician shortage,” Titus said.
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