VA facilities proposal also targets recruitment and retention authorities

The VA’s proposal to a special commission on restructuring its facilities to meet what it calls future needs indicates that to staff these facilities, the department will also need new and expanded recruiting, retention and remuneration “taking into account the competitive health care market”.

He says that while the country globally faces a shortage of primary care doctors, specialty doctors, psychiatrists, nurses and other medical specialists, the problem is particularly severe in the VA. The department “faces challenges due to lower wages than its business competitors in some markets” and additionally operates many facilities in more rural areas where recruitment and retention of providers, especially specialists, is challenging. difficult, he says.

Other important trends, he said, include the increased use of virtual care and the shift from inpatient to outpatient that “will require ongoing training and skill development.”

Recommendations include: new incentive and bonus authorities for mission-critical positions; broader powers to waive salary caps; expanding the coverage of the special education loan repayment program; authority to remove local salary limits for remote employees; raising the salary cap for pharmacists; increase pay rates for skilled and essential health care professions and the police; the extension of the coverage of the special remuneration of nursing managers; and simplify the process of recruiting non-citizens for essential health care professions.

Meanwhile, the recently passed continuing budget measure for the current fiscal year contains provisions that had advanced as a separate bill, increasing salary caps for some VA medical staff from the level Current Executive Schedule IV (now $176,300). It increases the cap for advanced practice RNs and physician assistants at Leven I (now $226,300) and the cap for other RNs at Level II (now $203,700).

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