AAPA-Championed VA Nurse and PA Retention and Income Security Enhancement (RAISE) Act Signed into Law

AAPA Applauds Congress for Lifting Veterans Affairs Pay Caps for PAs in FY 2022 Spending Agreement

March 15, 2022

President Biden signed the VA Nurse and PA Retention and Income Security Enhancement (RAISE) Act into law as part of the omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 2471) passed by Congress to fund the federal government through the end of the 2022 fiscal year.

The RAISE Act, championed by AAPA and Veterans Affairs PA Association (VAPAA), will ensure that PAs employed at the VA are eligible for competitive pay above existing pay caps. VAPAA volunteer leaders and AAPA federal advocacy staff have worked tirelessly for several years to see this change enacted into law.

“AAPA applauds Congress for including the RAISE Act in the omnibus appropriations bill,” AAPA President and Chair of the Board of Directors Jennifer M. Orozco, MMS, PA-C, DFAAPA, said. “The VA is the largest employer of PAs, and enactment of this legislation will allow the VA to offer more competitive salaries to PAs and increase veterans’ access to high-quality, timely care at VA medical facilities.”

While legislation enacted in 2017 required PAs to receive locally competitive wages at the VA, PAs and other healthcare professionals were still subject to overall pay caps. These caps impeded competition in the marketplace in high-salary areas and prevented the VA from recruiting and retaining PAs and other high-quality healthcare providers. Passage of the RAISE Act will adjust these existing salary caps on PAs, APRNs, and RNs, allowing the VA to offer more competitive salaries in high-salary areas to attract and retain top healthcare talent and ensure veterans receive timely, high-quality care.

AAPA extends its gratitude to the Congressional champions who introduced the RAISE Act and got it across the finish line. Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and David Joyce (R-OH) introduced the bill in the House of Representatives and secured its passage by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs in February. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced the legislation in the Senate.

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The omnibus bill included other healthcare provisions, including extending certain telehealth flexibilities and provisions for 151 days (five months) beyond the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), which currently expires on April 16 but is expected to be extended until at least July 16.

The bill will temporarily extend telehealth flexibilities issued during the PHE that removed geographic restrictions allowing Medicare beneficiaries to receive telehealth services in their homes, in non-rural communities and through audio-only communication. For 151 days after the end of the PHE, the bill also delays implementation of a requirement for health professionals to have an in-person visit with a beneficiary before conducting certain mental health services through telecommunication technology. The continuation of these and other telehealth flexibilities will allow PAs and other clinicians to continue to increase access to care and provide needed services to Medicare beneficiaries in an effective and efficient manner.

AAPA supports a permanent extension of these flexibilities and will continue to work with Congress on this and other important issues impacting patients and the PA delivering their care.

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