UW System Position on Bills Introduced in the Legislature During the 2005-2006 Session
(Mursau) Creates $450,000/yr. loan program, to be administered by HEAB, for tuition, fees, and expenses for resident medical school students, who are enrolled in the UW-Madison Medical School and are earning their doctor of medicine degree. These students must agree to practice medicine for a minimum of two years in rural areas of the state. The maximum amount of a loan that a person may receive during any fiscal year is $3000. After a loan recipient has completed his/her program of study, HEAB must forgive 25% of the loan’s principal and interest after the first full year and 25% of the loan’s principal and interest after the second full year.
UW System Position
SUPPORT: Loan forgiveness programs provide incentives for doctors to practice in rural areas in exchange for assisting with their medical school debt. Both the doctor whose debt is being reduced and the Wisconsin citizens, who are afforded the opportunity to access quality health care, benefit.
The report, “Health Care Wisconsin,” prepared by the Governor’s Health Care Worker Shortage Committee, documented a Wisconsin physician shortage in Wisconsin’s rural areas where 33% of Wisconsin’s citizens live but only 11% of our physicians practice. Further, 83% (60) of Wisconsin’s counties are designated as totally or partially underserved and 77% (46) of these counties are rural. Medical studies show that rural citizens are generally sicker, poorer, older, and more likely to be uninsured and the likelihood that doctors will choose to practice in rural areas is decreasing as a survey of current graduating medical students indicates that only 4% are considering practice in a rural area.