CPMA Joins APMA in Celebrating Major Legislative Success

 

By a vote of 92-5, the US Senate passed bipartisan legislation to streamline and modernize the Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare system. California Sens. Feinstein and Harris voted yes on the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act of 2018. The bill passed the House last week and will now go the desk of President Trump, who is expected to sign it immediately.

The VA Provider Equity Act reclassifies podiatrists as podiatric surgeons within the VA Healthcare Administration (VHA), placing them in the same pay band as their allopathic and osteopathic peers. This update to decades-old regulations will go far in addressing the dire recruitment and retention issues in the VHA and ensure our veterans receive the best possible foot and ankle care.

The measure also eliminates the 40-mile or 30-day wait periods for access to community care, establishes Medicare payment rates for community care, with exceptions for rural areas and value-based payment models, and requires the VA to establish a prompt payment process. It also creates a VA residency program and loan repayment program for those training for specialties that are in short supply.

The California Podiatric Medical Association’s contingent of more than a dozen podiatric physician members traveled to the American Podiatric Medical Association’s (APMA) House of Delegates and Legislative Conference in March, during which they met with California’s congressional delegation to advocate for access to care.

In their visits on Capitol Hill, CPMA members focused on APMA legislation: VA Provider Equity Act (HR 1058/S 1871), which would provide parity in the VA; and the Helping Ensure Life-and Limb-Saving Access to Podiatric Physicians (HELLPP) Act (HR 1542/S 1533), which would define podiatrists as physicians for the Medicaid program thereby bringing it into sync with Medicare. The CPMA delegation carried a letter from the president of the California Medical Association supporting the legislation.

The elevation of podiatrists within the VA will bolster APMA efforts to pass the Helping Ensure Life- and Limb-Saving Access to Podiatric Physicians (HELLPP) Act, which seeks to appropriately recognize podiatrists for their care of Medicaid patients.