Amid many rumors regarding the VA and clinical social work, certain commitments stand out as a result of the new federal law, the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014, signed by the President Obama on August 7.
- The Special Advancement for Achievement (SAA) program for clinical social workers is intact, as part of the overall VA SAA program for the health professions, funded up to $360 million per year through 2024. The SAA “professional pay” program for clinical social workers is protected by Section 705 of this Act. It should be noted that the Congressional conference committee intended that those on the lower end of the compensation scale will be the chief beneficiaries of this program.
- More clinical social workers will be hired: the Act appropriates $5 billion to employ more “physicians, nurses, social workers, mental health professionals, and other health care professionals.”
- Clinical social work may be found to be one of the five most-needed VA healthcare professions, in which case additional funds are earmarked for hiring and providing educational support.
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