President Obama signed legislation August 7 instituting major reforms in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that includes initiatives to expand access to mental health care and increase the number of mental health clinicians in the VA’s health system.

The $16 billion legislation provides several incentives for the VA to hire more health care professionals, including psychiatrists. One would raise the cap on medical education debt repayment under the Health Professionals Educational Assistance Program from the current $60,000 to $120,000.

In addition, the number of graduate medical education residency positions in the VA in areas with health professional shortages would increase by up to 1,500 over five years, with priority given to primary care, mental health, and several other specialties. 

 

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