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Medical School Loan Repayment: Does It Help With Primary Care Shortage

ACP Internist looks at how states are using grants to fix their primary care shortages.

Michigan launched grants for primary care doctors to repay medical school loans and is looking to tap into federal incentives to fill its needs in rural and urban shortage areas. Alaska also needs primary care doctors, so the state senate is pushing through recruiting incentives of its own. (They should show re-runs of Northern Exposure.) Rural Indiana doesn’t have a quirky ’90s hit television program to its credit, but it has nurse practitioners who are finding their niche on physicians-led teams–relieving the backlog and providing patient education. (Detroit Free Press, KTUU-TV, Journal & Courier)

There’s especially good news about federal spending for health care. The $1.85 billion invested to date in health centers from federal stimulus spending translated into $3.2 billion in new economic activity in these communities. A report from The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health services adds that more than 1,100 health centers have received stimulus funds that will let them serve 21 million people next year, including 3 million more new patients. The centers tend to be located in areas with higher rates of unemployment and recent job losses.

California faces a big hurdle in primary care. There’s only 700 geriatricians, a problem found everywhere else but particularly acute in Oakland. Stakeholders in the system discuss whether California could switch to a global payment system and accountable care organizations to try to make health care work. Something has to be done. The state’s cash-strapped rural hospitals report cutting hours and services. (San Mateo County Times, California Healthline, California Farm Bureau Federation)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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