Missing ‘special pay’ outrages Public Health Service officers; little explanation, no apology from agency

The Washington Post: The U.S. Public Health Service had 10 years to follow congressional direction and adopt a new pay system for members of its Commissioned Corps.

It failed.

Now, thousands of health professionals who work for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), but wear uniforms and insignia like the Navy, must go without “special pay” because their leadership screwed up. They provide health care in some of the most remote, deprived and disadvantaged areas of the nation, as well as during disasters.

Their uniforms are an outward manifestation of their pride and commitment to service. But PHS is not responding in kind — not just by messing with the officers’ money, but also through a lack of communication, explanation and apology. The special pay is designed to make the corps, whose positions include physicians, dentists and pharmacists, more competitive with the private sector. In a letter to the Commissioned Corps, Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams said the employees might not get their full pay for months.

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