WASHINGTON, June 28, 2021 / PRNewswire / – The Veterinary Medicine Repayment Program Improvement Act (VMLRPEA), which would allow more food and public health veterinarians to do up to $ 25,000 one year of student loan repayment in exchange for service in US Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated veterinary shortages has been reinstated in the Senate.
The bill, approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), would improve the veterinary loan repayment program by removing federal withholding tax on grants, freeing up funds and allowing the program to reach more communities in need of veterinary services. In return for the award, veterinarians must serve a minimum of three years in one of the USDA designated veterinary shortages. The USDA has identified 221 scarcity areas in 48 different states for 2021.
Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Me.) And Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) reintroduced the VMLRPEA in the Senate. Earlier this year they have representatives Ron child (D-Wis.) And Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) Reintroduced legislation in the House of Representatives.
“The expansion of the VMLRP means more veterinarians are getting student loans and having more access to veterinary care in rural areas across the country – a win-win for the profession,” said Dr. Douglas Kratt, AVMA President. “AVMA is grateful that our leaders in Congress support laws that abolish the service premium tax and maximize the effectiveness of the VMLRP. We will use this momentum to build broad support for the bill and send it to the president’s desk . ”
The average student loan debt for veterinary graduates who took out loans rose $ 188,000 in 2020. As a result, many graduates are unable to practice in the underserved areas that need their services most, as veterinary salaries are often lower in rural areas than in urban or suburban areas. If the VMLRPEA is passed, one additional veterinarian could participate in the program for every three currently licensed veterinarians. Since 2010, 1,632 veterinarians have applied to the VMLRP, but only 552 have received service awards.
“Veterinarians perform in so many rural areas and small towns in Michigan and nationwide, “said Senator Stabenow.” But in many places there is a lack of veterinary care. This bipartisan law will incentivize veterinarians to practice in underserved areas where quality veterinary care is required to ensure healthy animals and safe food supplies. “
“Qualified veterinarians in farming communities across the country are an important part of maintaining animal health and welfare, and ensuring that ranchers and farmers have access to care for their cattle,” said Senator Crapo. “Overly onerous federal taxes on the veterinary loan amortization program limit the scope of the program’s benefits, and removing these restrictions would allow more veterinarians to practice in small, rural communities where their services are desperately needed.”
During AVMA’s very first virtual bill, veterinarians and veterinary students met with 218 different convention bureaus to advocate for the profession. The participants identified the VMLRPEA as the highest priority for the AVMA throughout the event.
More than 100 agricultural organizations support the Veterinary Loan Improvement Program Act. AVMA encourages the veterinary community to contact their members of Congress on this matter.
AVMA is the nation’s leading veterinary professional and speaks for more than 97,000 member veterinarians who are passionate about protecting animal health, animal welfare and human health. Drawing on the unique scientific training and knowledge of its members, AVMA is committed to policies that advance veterinary practice and support the vital work of veterinarians across the country.
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SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association