Veterinarians and veterinary students alike often are unaware of their influence of policy. Every year, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) hosts the Legislative Fly-In. This year, students and veterinarians joined forces and attended the fly-in together. The event has a dual purpose. Purpose number one is to teach the attendees about the role we play in developing legislation, especially as it relates to veterinary medicine, agriculture, and animal health. The other is to build relationships with our elected officials and show them we are engaged with the process.
We focused on four main bills during our visit. 1) The Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2013, which is a bill that would prohibit transporting horses in vehicles containing two (or more) levels, stacked on top of each other. 2) The Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) Enhancement Act would make the program tax exempt. Similar programs exist for human health professions, which are tax exempt. 3) The Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) would amend the Horse Protection Act. This would designate additional unlawful acts, strengthen penalties for violations, improve USDA enforcement, and others. This bill is probably the most controversial of all of the bills. 4) The last bill we discussed was the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act of 2013. This bill was the most important to me. The legislation amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to clarify that veterinarians may transport, administer, and dispense controlled substances in the regular course of mobile veterinary practice. In simpler terms, it allows veterinarians to continue to do their jobs without breaking the law.
This experience was a wonderful one, and I encourage anyone reading this blog to get involved with policy. Granted, I have a slight bias since I would love to do this for a living.