Blog: Congress starts fast out of the gate in 2014

Success of Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act in Senate could build momentum for more positive results.
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Jan 15, 2014

Veterinarians launched 2014 with a political win, but there’s more to do. The U.S. Senate passed S. 1171, the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act, which allows veterinarians in mobile practices to transport and use controlled substances. This addresses a critical need for large animal veterinarians covering a wide territory, in applications ranging from anesthesia to pain management to euthanasia. Of course, this bill also will protect mobile companion animal health services.

What’s left is the U.S. House of Representatives and its version of the mobility bill, H.R. 1528. Veterinarians and animal health interests must keep up the pressure as it takes both houses of Congress for the legislation to become law. Veterinarian House members Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) are leading the charge, but they need outreach and support from the greater veterinary community.

What we’ve learned with H.R. 1406 (the so-called Fairness to Pet Owners Act, which would have mandated pet prescriptions but failed to pass the last session of Congress) and S. 1171 is that veterinarians can be effective in the federal political arena, just as we’ve been in state legislatures across the country. It doesn’t happen without effort, including engagement in political campaigns, and these initiatives must continue season after season.

What’s more, ongoing support must continue for the lobbying resources of our national and state veterinary medical associations. There are rumblings that a version of H.R. 1406 may rear its head again in the near term. So let’s keep the momentum going in 2014.

Mark Cushing, JD, is founding partner of the Animal Policy Group, providing government relations and strategic services for various animal health, veterinary and educational interests. He maintains offices in Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C., and is a frequent speaker at veterinary conferences.

The Veterinary Policy Notes blog on dvm360.com helps veterinarians and other animal health professionals keep abreast of the growing number of issues, political challenges and regulatory initiatives affecting the veterinary profession, animal health industry and animal welfare movement.