State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Show us you want us? Doctors urge for more debt relief

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 10, 2013 7:08 PM
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Doctors are calling on state lawmakers to come up with one million dollars to help keep Pennsylvania-trained primary care physicians in the commonwealth.

Primary care doctors leave medical school with lower paying prospects and just as much debt as their peers who choose to specialize. And so, it is with much empathy that Hans Zuckerman, a student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, said at a press conference Tuesday that he understands why some newly-coated doctors leave the commonwealth. Other states provide more generous loan repayment programs to those who work in rural and underserved areas.

"They offer those types of salaries because no one really wants to go to those areas," Zuckerman said. "So you don't have to necessarily match that. We just need to provide people with enough incentive that they'll stay here within Pennsylvania without really considering some of those higher level offers."

An aide with the state Department of Health said another $1 million in state funding could create 24 additional loan repayment slots in the state's debt relief program for medical professionals. The funding could also provide 10 extra residency slots for primary care doctors.

"There are signals that the new physicians who are graduating are looking to practice in other states," said Dr. Bruce MacLeod, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. "Even though we're in good shape now, we have to make sure we replace those physicians who are retiring or planning to retire by keeping up with the new and impending health care demand." He said the demand for primary care doctors will only increase with the implementation of the federal health care law.

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