AVMA supports Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act to end rural vet shortage
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Friday, March 11, applauded U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Mike Crapo, (R-ID), for introducing the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act.
The bipartisan legislation will help the country address a critical shortage of veterinarians serving rural areas by making the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) tax-exempt, thereby increasing the number of veterinarians who can participate in the program. The act would also apply to similar state programs that encourage veterinarians to practice in underserved communities.
Rather than awarding the full funding for this program each year, the current form of the VMLRP requires that 39 percent of the money it receives be returned to the U.S. Treasury as a federal tax, unlike its counterpart program for human medicine, the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program.
Sixty-two veterinarians from shortage areas around the country were selected for the program last year, out of a total pool of 260 applicants. About 20 more veterinarians could be selected to practice in a shortage area if the VMLRP was tax-exempt.
Nationwide, there are 500 counties that have at least 5,000 farm animals but no veterinarians in the area to treat them. This shortage could have dire consequences on human and animal health, public safety, animal welfare, disease surveillance and economic development. Recent studies indicate that the supply of veterinarians working in food supply veterinary medicine will fall short by four to five percent annually through 2016.
The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act already has the support of 138 animal, agricultural and veterinary medicine organizations nationwide.
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