STAFF REPORT

Rep. Josh Harder’s (D-Turlock) bipartisan bill to address staffing shortages at VA hospitals overwhelmingly passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 5.

During Rep. Harder’s 100 Days Listening Tour he has heard directly from veterans about how the long wait times at the VA are adversely affecting their health. This bill directly addresses this issue by creating a new pipeline of medical students who will get the training they need to eventually become VA doctors. By priming students for roles at VA hospitals, more veterans can get the care they need with shorter wait times.

“The VA’s staffing shortage is a huge problem for veterans in the Central Valley,” said Harder. “Too many men and women who served our nation aren’t getting the care they deserve. Our bipartisan bill will connect students and veterans, opening up the VA’s recruitment pool and make sure our veterans have access to the doctors they need, when they need them. I want to thank my colleagues Reps. Kaptur, Kilmer, Rutherford, and Ryan for their partnership and leadership in bringing this bill to passage.”

Harder’s Veterans-Specific Education for Tomorrow’s Health Professionals (Vet HP) Act will develop a one-year pilot program for pre-med students to gain clinical experience by shadowing VA health care professionals.

Passing with bipartisan support by a voice vote, the Vet HP Act will give priority to students who are veterans, first-generation college students, or those who are intending to specialize in areas with staffing shortages.

In his first three months in office, Harder has emerged as a champion for veterans. He recently passed a bipartisan amendment to support veterans experiencing mental health emergencies and has been active in pushing Congress to remove coverage barriers for Vietnam veterans poisoned by Agent Orange.

In addition, Harder has established a Congressional Veterans Advisory Committee to give Central Valley veterans a voice in Washington.

The Vet HP Act is also sponsored by Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06), John Rutherford (FL-04), and Tim Ryan (OH-13).