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J Health Care Finance. 2009 Summer;35(4):13-23.

The impact of the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Personnel Enhancement Act of 2004 on VA physicians' salaries and retention.

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  • 1White River Junction VA Medical Center, White River Junction, VT, USA.



To determine whether the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Personnel Enhancement Act (the Act), which was designed to achieve VA physician salary parity with American Academy of Medical Colleges (AAMC) Associate Professors and enacted in 2006, had achieved its goal.


Using VA human resources datasets and data from the AAMC, we calculated mean VA physician salaries, with 95 percent confidence intervals, for 15 different medical specialties. For each specialty, we compared VA salaries to the median, 25th, and 75th percentile of AAMC Associate Professors' incomes.


The Act's passage resulted in a $20,000 annual increase in VA physicians' salaries. VA primary care physicians, medical subspecialists, and psychiatrists had salaries that were comparable to their AAMC counterparts prior to and after enactment of the Act. However, VA surgical specialists', anesthesiologists', and radiologists' salaries lagged their AAMC counterparts both before and after the Act's enactment. Income increases were negatively correlated with full-time workforce changes.


VA does not appear to provide comparable salaries for physicians necessary for surgical care. In certain cases, VA should consider outsourcing surgical services.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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