WASHINGTON, June 28, 2021 / PRNewswire / – The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (VMRLRPEA), which would allow more veterinarians in charge of food and public health animals to receive up to $ 25,000 one year for the repayment of a student loan in exchange for service in areas of veterinary shortage designated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been reintroduced to the Senate.
Approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the bill would improve the veterinary drug loan repayment program by ending the federal withholding tax on rewards, freeing up funds and allowing the program to reach more communities in need of veterinary services. In return for the award, veterinarians are required to serve for at least three years in one of the USDA designated veterinary shortage areas. The USDA has designated 221 areas of shortage in 48 different states for 2021.
Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) And Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) reintroduced the VMLRPEA to the Senate. Earlier this year, representatives Ron like (D-Wis.) And Adrien smith (R-Neb.) Reintroduced the legislation to the House of Representatives.
“The expansion of the VMLRP means that more veterinarians will benefit from student loan relief and that there will be better access to veterinary care in rural areas of the country – a win-win situation for the profession. “Said Dr. Douglas kratt, President of AVMA. “The AVMA is grateful to our leaders in Congress for supporting legislation that removes the tax on service rewards and maximizes the effectiveness of the VMLRP. We will use this momentum to gain broad support for the bill and the send to the president’s office. ”
The average student loan debt of veterinary college graduates who borrowed is $ 188,000 in 2020. As a result, many new graduates cannot practice in underserved areas that need their services the most, as the salaries of veterinarians in rural areas are often lower than those in urban or suburban areas. If the VMLRPEA is adopted, one additional veterinarian could participate in the program for three currently accepted veterinarians. Since 2010, 1,632 veterinarians have applied to the VMLRP but only 552 have received service awards.
“Veterinarians provide essential support to the agricultural economy in so many rural areas and small towns in Michigan and nationally, ”said Senator Stabenow. “But too many places lack the veterinary services they need. This bipartisan bill will encourage vets to practice in underserved areas, where quality veterinary care is needed to ensure healthy livestock and a secure food supply. “
“Trained veterinarians in farming communities across the country are a key part of maintaining animal health and welfare, and ensuring that ranchers and farmers have access to the care of their livestock,” Senator said. Crapo. “Excessively heavy federal taxes on the veterinary drug loan repayment program limit the scope of the program’s benefits, and addressing these limitations would allow more veterinarians the opportunity to practice in other areas. small rural communities where their services are critically needed. “
During AVMA’s first-ever virtual legislative flight, veterinarians and veterinary students met with 218 different congressional offices to advocate for the profession. Participants identified VMLRPEA as a top priority for AVMA throughout the event.
Over 100 agriculture-related organizations support the Veterinary Loan Repayment Program Improvement Act. AVMA encourages the veterinary community to contact its members of Congress on this matter.
AVMA is the leading national representative of the veterinary profession, speaking on behalf of more than 97,000 member veterinarians who care passionately about the protection of animal health, animal welfare and human health. Informed by the unique scientific education and knowledge of its members, AVMA advocates for policies that advance the practice of veterinary medicine and support the critical work of veterinarians nationwide.
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SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association