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Doctors Who Agree to Serve the Poor Can Have Loans Paid Off

California writes its first checks in $340M program
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2019 7:01 PM CDT
C   (Getty/ktasimarr)

(Newser) – As a remedy for its shortage of physicians, California has begun paying off the medical school debt of doctors who commit to making low-income Medi-Cal patients 30% of their caseload. The five-year commitment could suppress doctors' pay at the beginning of their careers, Forbes reports, but erase debt that can total several hundred thousand dollars. The state has allocated $340 million for the program so far. It's one more offer for new physicians, who are in demand, to consider: Two-thirds of physicians finishing their training last year had been contacted more than 50 times by recruiters, a survey found.

"This really is life-changing," said Bryan Ruiz, a new dentist, after finding out that he no longer owed $300,000 in medical school loans. Ruiz already was serving mostly Medi-Cal patients at a community health clinic, per the Los Angeles Times, and expected to spend decades paying off the loans. "He’s committed his life to this kind of service, and that’s what our loan repayment program is about," Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference. Using tobacco tax revenue to pay for the program, California dispensed $10.5 million in debt relief to 40 dentists and $58.6 million to 247 physicians this month in its first installment. (NYU picks up the tab for medical students.)

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