House passes bill aiding federal doctors' pay

The House passed legislation Wednesday that extends a provision of a bill that will help agencies recruit and keep more federal physicians.

H.R. 207, sponsored by Rep. Connie A. Morella, R-Md., permanently extends the Physicians Comparability Allowance (PCA) for federal civilian physicians, eliminating the need to reauthorize the language every three years. The PCA (Title 5, Section 5948 of the U.S. Code) was created in 1978 in response to a shortage of federal physicians.

"We must do all that we can to keep our best federal physicians in the government," said Morella. "The work they do is simply too important. The federal physicians eligible for the PCA are working on cures for AIDS, cancer and heart disease. They protect the safety of our food and drugs."

The PCA authorizes agency heads to give federal doctors pay allowances of up to-but not exceeding-$14,000 a year for physicians who have served two years or less, and $30,000 a year for physicians who have worked in the government for more than two years. Doctors must agree to serve at least one year in government service to be eligible for the allowance.

Interns and residents are not eligible for the pay allowance.

H.R. 207 allows PCAs for federal doctors to be included in their average pay for retirement purposes-a benefit military and Veterans Affairs physicians already have.

"Federal physicians from across the country have stated to me very clearly that without the PCA, they would have chosen a different career. This legislation demonstrates that Congress is serious about maintaining the quality of research and care that presently exists within our federal agencies," said Morella.

The bill is now awaiting action in the Senate.

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