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Debunking Congressman Comer's “Show Up Act”

On March 7th, The Federal Practitioner published an article co-authored by VHPI Senior Policy Analyst Russell Lemle and Katherine B. McGuire, Chief Advocacy Officer for the American Psychological Association Services. It’s entitled “The SHOW UP Act Threatens VA Telehealth” and we encourage all VHPI supporters to read it! Lemle and McGuire critique legislation introduced by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R, Kentucky) that would prevent federal employees from working remotely from home. The Stopping Home Office Work’s Unproductive Problems (SHOW UP) Act -- already unwisely passed by the House --specifically targets Veterans Health Administration staff on the grounds that their remote work jeopardizes service delivery. According to Comer, “veterans have been unable…to obtain care they have earned” due to VHA telework arrangements.

Lemle and McGuire expertly refute this claim, warning that Senate passage of the same measure would have a “devastating impact on veterans’ ability to receive care.” Today, many veterans, like non-veteran patients, prefer telehealth to in-person appointments. Allowing clinicians to work remotely also reduces staff burnout and turnover. The authors explain how reducing remote work opportunities would hamper the VHA’s ability to deliver high quality mental health and suicide prevention services to veterans via telehealth, which has increased significantly since the Covid-19 pandemic. Forcing practitioners who now work remotely to return full time to VA facilities would actually reduce the number of patients they can care for, creating longer wait times for appointments.

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