Underwood Works to Ensure Veterans Receive World-Class Care; Introduces Legislation to Address Department of Veterans Affairs Nurse and Physician Assistant Shortage

October 12, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14) introduced new legislation to address the health care professional shortage within the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bipartisan VA Nurse and Physician Assistant RAISE Act would increase the pay limitation on nurse and physician assistant salaries to help the VA attract and retain top health care talent to ensure veterans receive timely, high-quality care. The legislation is co-led by Representative David P. Joyce (R-OH-14), the Co-Chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus. 


“We need to take action to ensure the VA can recruit and retain the clinical workforce that the Department needs to provide our veterans with the timely, high-quality care they have earned, no matter where they live. That’s why I’m so proud to be introducing the VA Nurse and Physician Assistant RAISE Act,” said Underwood. “Increasing these pay limitations is the right thing to do for the health care professionals who make significant sacrifices to care for those who have served our country, and it’s also a critical step to ensure that our veterans have access to the high-quality care they deserve, from the very best clinicians our country has to offer.” 


“Taking care of the brave men and women who have defended our country and our freedoms is the ultimate bipartisan cause,” said Congressman Joyce. “As the Co-Chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus, I’m proud to work across the aisle to ensure the VA has the ability to attract and retain top-notch medical professionals and provide our heroes with the high-quality, timely care they deserve. With our nation on the verge of a nursing shortage, we cannot afford to undervalue the essential contributions our nurses make, not only when it comes to addressing the health care needs of our veterans, but also our continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 


“On behalf of more than 150,000 PAs in the U.S. including the 2,650 PAs currently employed full-time by the VA, the American Academy of PAs would like to thank Representatives Lauren Underwood and David Joyce for their leadership in introducing the RAISE Act,” said American Academy of PAs President and Chair of the Board of Directors Jennifer M. Orozco, MMS, PA-C, DFAAPA. “While the VA has a locality pay system, PAs are still subject to an overall pay cap. This cap impedes competition in the marketplace and thus prevents the VA from recruiting and retaining high-quality health care providers such as PAs. Enactment of this legislation will adjust the salary cap on PAs and allow the VA to offer more competitive salaries to this essential group of providers. AAPA strongly supports this legislation to increase veterans’ access to high-quality, timely care at VA medical facilities.” 


“As we continue to face critical shortages in nursing, the VA Nurse Physician Assistant RAISE Act will improve the VA's ability to recruit and retain healthcare professionals. It provides VA with the tools and resources it needs to carry out its mission of taking care of our nation's Veterans,” said Kelly D. Skinner, President, Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA). "This is one of NOVA’s highest priorities and we are grateful for Representatives Underwood and Joyce for their steadfast support of VA nurses - we urge all Members of Congress to support the bill." 


The VA Nurse and Physician Assistant RAISE Act is supported by the Nurses Organization of Veterans Affairs (NOVA), Veterans Affairs Physician Assistant Association, American Academy of PAs, and Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.