Veterinary Mobility Act ready for President Obama's signature

Reps. Schrader and Yoho lead bill to unanimous passage in U.S. House removing the DEA target from mobile veterinarians' backs.
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Jul 17, 2014
By dvm360.com staff

Reps. Schrader and Yoho lead bill to unanimous passage in U.S. House removing the DEA target from mobile veterinarians' backs.

The U.S. House of Representatives version of the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act (H.R. 1528) unanimously passed by a voice vote the afternoon of July 8. Veterinarians that have been targeted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) under the Controlled Substances Act, which prohibits transportation and use of controlled drugs outside of a registered location, will now be able to continue to provide necessary veterinary care in the field and with mobile practices without fear of legal retribution. The soon-to-be law also allows veterinarians to register in multiple states regardless of where their principal place of business is located.

Sponsored by Kurt Schrader, DVM, (D-Ore.) and Ted Yoho, DVM, (R-Fla.), founding members of the U.S. House Veterinary Medicine Caucus, H.R. 1528 passed with vast bipartisan support carrying 185 co-sponsors. The bill also had the full support of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), whose Governmental Relations Division, led by Director Mark Lutschaunig, VMD, MBA, has made the bill’s passage a top priority. Schrader personally thanked Ashley Morgan, DVM, assistant director of the AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division, for her work on getting the bill to a successful vote on the House floor.

The brief debate Tuesday, conducted under “suspension of the rules” (meaning debate was limited to 40 minutes and no amendments could be introduced), was less debate and more an opportunity to thank those like Morgan who had worked to pass what Schrader called “common sense” legislation that could have been avoided with DEA cooperation. Before introducing the bill in April 2013, Schrader had urged the DEA to grant a waiver exempting licensed veterinarians from the limitations of the Controlled Substances Act to no avail.

“Today is a victory for veterinarians across this country, but more importantly, it’s a victory for the health and well-being of the animals they are entrusted to care for,” Schrader says in an AVMA release. “Ridiculous bureaucratic interference from the DEA would have seriously impeded veterinarians’ ability to properly treat their patients. The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act will provide veterinarians with the certainty they need to continue providing mobile or ambulatory services for their animal patients.”

Yoho echoed his colleague’s sentiments. “As a large animal veterinarian, my operating room wasn’t always in an office. Most times, it was in the field,” Yoho says. “Expecting ranchers to transport their livestock to a veterinary clinic every time medication is needed is an example of overly burdensome policy created by bureaucrats rather than the folks who know the issue. This bill will correct that problem and allow veterinarians to practice their profession without fear of unnecessary government intrusion.”

Since both the Senate (S. 1171) and the House passed identical, but separate versions of the Veterinary Mobility Act, procedure required Congress to choose one bill, passed by both chambers, to send to President Obama. The Senate chose to take up Schrader's H.R. 1528; passing it July 16.

Clark Fobian, DVM, president of the AVMA, is ready to see H.R. 1528 become law. “Congress made it clear that veterinarians are responsible public servants who must be able to use vital medications to treat their patients--no matter the location--so that they receive the best quality care,” Fobian says. “We applaud our elected officials for clarifying federal statute, which has left veterinarians confused and concerned over the past year. We look forward to seeing President Obama sign this important legislation into law in the near future.”