Proos: Bill would help attract doctors to underserved areas

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LANSING?The Michigan Senate recently enrolled legislation co-sponsored by Sen. John Proos designed to help encourage physicians to practice in underserved areas. The measure now heads to Gov. Rick Snyder to be signed into law. 

“A shortage of doctors – especially primary care and OB-GYN physicians – is a growing problem in rural communities throughout Southwest Michigan and the entire state,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I co-sponsored this reform because it is an example of bipartisan solutions to issues facing Michigan families – who often face long drives to see a doctor. I look forward to seeing the governor sign this bill into law and helping us increase access to quality health care for all Michigan residents.”

The Michigan Essential Health Provider program includes a loan repayment program for certain medical providers who enter into an agreement with the Department of Community Health (DCH) to provide full-time health care services in an area with a shortage.

Senate Bill 648 would increase the maximum annual repayment benefit for a doctor from $25,000 to $40,000 and create a lifetime cap of $200,000. The bill also permits DCH to give preference to physicians studying general practice, family practice, obstetrics, pediatrics or internal medicine.

“Attracting talented doctors to rural areas is difficult, especially when many of them finish medical school more than $150,000 in debt,” Proos said. “This legislation is about incentivizing doctors to set up a practice in underserved regions, like many areas of Southwest Michigan, by updating an existing loan repayment program to better reflect modern costs and needs.”

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Editor’s Note: Audio comments by Proos are available on the senator’s website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Audio” under the Media Center tab.

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