Bill Increases Access to Vet Care in Underserved Areas

Jamie Johansen

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) welcomes the introduction of Senate bill 487, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (VMLRPEA), by Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

This bill will increase funding available for grants through the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP), which implements loan forgiveness for veterinarians who commit to serving in federally designated veterinary shortage areas. Representatives Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) introduced companion legislation, H.R. 1268, in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The VMLRP is a win-win for veterinarians and rural economies because it provides loan relief while also helping alleviate veterinary shortages in areas that lack adequate access to veterinary services for livestock animals,” said AVMA President Dr. Tom Meyer. “Unfortunately, the heavy tax applied to VMLRP awards decreases the number of awards that can be made and the number of rural communities that can benefit from increased services. We’re grateful our leaders in Congress are again supporting legislation to remove this tax and maximize the effectiveness of the VMLRP. The AVMA played a key role in implementing the VMLRP and will continue our strong support of the VMLRPEA during 2017.”

Student loan debt for graduates of veterinary colleges in 2015 topped $140,000 on average. This significant debt can make starting a veterinary practice in a rural shortage area cost prohibitive for recent graduates. As a result, many new graduates are unable to practice in underserved areas where they are most needed.

Ag Group, Animal Health, Education, Veterinary