Sen. Hansen applauds Senate passage of bills to increase access to health care

LANSING—The state Senate unanimously approved measures Tuesday that would boost a statewide program that recruits medical providers to serve in underserved areas, said one of the bills’ co-sponsors, Sen. Goeff Hansen.

Hansen said Senate Bills 648 and 649 will improve access to health care in certain areas of the 34th Senate District.

“This is a tool to help employers recruit and retain primary medical, dental and mental health care providers by providing loan repayment to those entering into the Michigan State Loan Repayment Program service obligations,” said Hansen, R-Hart. “These bills serve a critical need.”

The Michigan State Loan Repayment Program service obligations require participants to provide full-time, primary health care services at an eligible nonprofit practice site located in a Health Professional Shortage Area for two years.

The obligations are part of the Michigan Essential Health Provider program, which covers loan repayments for those who have taken out a loan to attend medical school, to train to be a nurse midwife or a nurse practitioner or to train to be a physician’s assistant.

The Michigan Department of Community Health (DCH), which administers the program, is currently limited under the program to recruiting physicians who are training in general practice, family practice, obstetrics, pediatrics, emergency medicine, internal medicine, preventive medicine, and psychiatry.

SBs 648 and 649 will make the following changes to the Michigan Essential Health Provider program:

  • Include dentists in the loan repayment program;
  • Remove the four-year limit on loan repayments;
  • Increase the maximum annual loan repayment amount to $40,000;
  • Establish a lifetime loan repayment maximum of $200,000;
  • Require an assessment of the lifetime cap;
  • Permit the DCH to give preference to physicians studying general practice, family practice, obstetrics, pediatrics or internal medicine; and
  • Include dental students in the low-income minority student grant program.

SBs 648 and 649 have been sent to the Michigan House for consideration.

Note: Audio remarks from Hansen are available for broadcast. Click on Audio under the Media Center tab, above.