By Andrew Kitchenman, Courtesy of NJ Spotlight
A loan-forgiveness plan could help ease New Jersey’s shortage of primary care physicians while providing relief to young doctors burdened with huge medical-school debt. A bill, A-1269, would forgive loans up to $200,000 over four years to doctors who work in or near New Jersey municipalities with a relatively high percentage of low-income residents.
The state will have a shortage of 2,800 doctors by 2020, including 1,000 fewer primary care doctors than needed, according to the the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals.
Primary-care doctors have long expressed concern about the combination of rising medical school costs and the pay differential between them and specialists, who often have several times the income. This often leads doctors trained in New Jersey to choose specialties other than primary care or to practice primary care in states with a lower cost of living that New Jersey.
A 21-year-old loan redemption program for primary care practitioners has drawn few doctors because of its restrictive standards, such as only applying to doctors working for practices in cities with few medical practices.
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