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Rush Introduces Legislation to Incentivize Primary Care Doctors to Work in Underserved Communities

July 2, 2021

Average debt for medical school graduates is around $250,000; Rush's bill would enact 100% loan forgiveness for professionals who serve in eligible underserved communities

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) introduced legislation to encourage more primary care doctors to work in medically underserved communities. The COMMUNITIES Act (H.R. 4285) would institute one hundred percent loan repayment under the National Health Service Corps' (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program if a healthcare professional commits to serving in an eligible underserved community for five years.

Currently, loan repayments under NHSC — $50,000 for two years and up to $100,000 for five years in some cases — do not come close to covering the full cost of medical school, where average debt for graduating students falls between $200,000 and $250,000.

"As a lifelong fighter for health equity, I was dismayed — but not surprised — when COVID-19 exposed and widened existing inequities in our healthcare system. Right now, many underserved communities, including on the South Side of Chicago, are suffering from an acute lack of primary care physicians, and specifically, physicians of color," said Rush.

"Studies show that Black patients have better outcomes when treated by Black doctors, and that Black doctors are less likely to harbor implicit racial biases that can harm patients of color. By instituting full loan forgiveness for doctors who serve in underserved communities, my COMMUNITIES Act would help attract talent — including physicians of color — to communities with the greatest need. This legislation is particularly timely as we work to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates. Primary care physicians are highly trusted by the public, and thus, they make particularly effective messengers to deliver accurate health information to Americans and counter dangerous misinformation."

The full text of the COMMUNITIES Act is available HERE.

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Issues:Health Care