VanderWall bill would increase incentive for health providers to serve in underserved areas

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that would increase the incentive for health providers to serve in medically underserved areas of Michigan, said sponsor Sen. Curt VanderWall.

Senate Bill 343 would increase the limit for student loan repayment to $250,000 for providers who provide health services in health resource shortage areas.

“There is a shortage of medical professionals in Michigan, especially in rural areas,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “We must find effective ways to attract young health care workers to underserved and rural areas, along with ways to retain those workers. This measure will help do that.”

VanderWall said that most of the upper peninsula and a good portion of the northern lower peninsula are medically underserved.

“In addition to efforts in recent years to train new physicians and expanding the scope of practice for midlevel providers, additional monetary incentives will help attract providers to these areas,” he said.

Under SB 343, if a health provider agrees to a term of service of 10 years or more in a health resource shortage area, the maximum amount of debt or expense repayment the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services may pay on behalf of the provider is increased from $200,0000 to $250,000, paid over a period of 10 years or more.

SB 343 now heads to the state House of Representatives for further consideration.