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AAVMC maps legislative agenda, pushes $1.5-billion program
The move is designed to enhance Congress' support and the bill's chance of passing.
WASHINGTON — Funding for the new $1.5 billion Veterinary Public Health Workforce Expansion Act tops the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges' (AAVMC) legislative initiatives.
Formerly known as the Veterinary Workforce Expansion Act, the new version was introduced in the House and Senate with the public-health angle clearly represented. The move is designed to enhance Congress' support and the bill's chance of passing, AAVMC officials say.
Originally introduced in 2005, the Veterinary Public Health Workforce Expansion Act would establish a 10-year, $1.5 billion competitive grant program to build capacity in veterinary medical education and expand the workforce of DVMs in public-health practice or biomedical research. The measure seeks to offset workforce shortages and directs the Department of Health and Human Services to issue grants based on proposals to boost the number of veterinarians trained in deficient public-health practice areas. Increasing research capacity for high-priority disease agents is also a consideration for grant approval.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wi) introduced HR 1232 to Congress on Feb. 28. Veterinarian Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo) followed with its companion, S 746, two days later. The act, long championed by Allard, likely will be one of the two-term senator's last veterinary-related objectives before he retires next year.
"Senator Allard wanted to emphasize the public-health aspects of veterinary medicine and chose to rename the bill in the 110th Congress," AAVMC spokesman Dr. Andrew Maccabe says. "The title now explicitly highlights this issue, which is really what we're trying to get at."
AAVMC also supports appropriate federal funding for the National Veterinary Medical Service Act, which would provide educational-loan repayment for new graduates working in underserved areas.
Dr. Andrew Maccabe
Support also is needed for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank, the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and Formula 1433 Extramural Funding for Animal Health and Disease Research.
No proposed funding for these programs exists in the Bush administration's fiscal year 2008 budget that's been presented to Congress, AAVMC officials say.