Bill calling for pilot program on rural doctor aid includes Flagler

Filed under DAYTONA BEACH, FLGR-PALMCOAST

NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

A House Republican on Tuesday filed a proposal (HB 1119) that would create a pilot project to determine the effectiveness of financial aid in attracting and retaining primary-care doctors in 12 largely rural North Florida counties.

140227_dt_focus01The bill, filed by Rep. Travis Hutson, R-Elkton, would require a report to be submitted in 2021 about the effects of a program known as the “Medical Education Reimbursement and Loan Repayment Program,” which was created to help offset loan and educational expenses for primary-care medical professionals in underserved areas.

Hutson’s bill would direct the Department of Health to measure the effectiveness of the program in Calhoun, DeSoto, Glades, Gulf, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Putnam and Taylor counties.

The proposal comes as House leaders push to address a shortage of primary-care physicians in the state. That effort has touched off a lobbying fight about whether nurse practitioners should be allowed to provide care without physician supervision – an idea that supporters contend could help with primary-care shortages in areas such as rural communities.

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