NJ Senate Committee Passes Bill To Address Doctor Shortage

State Sen. Robert Singer

State Sen. Robert Singer

TRENTON — The state Senate Education Committee passed bipartisan legislation today sponsored by Senators Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge and Robert Singer (R-Ocean) that establishes a physician loan redemption program for certain specialties. The bill is based on a recommendation in a report issued by the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals that said loan forgiveness is one of the top factors that medical residents look for in determining a practice.

“By providing these incentives we can attract more doctors to needed specialties and assure New Jersey residents aren’t left with insufficient care,” said Singer. “With a growing demand for doctors and predicted shortage in many specialties in the next decade we have to act now to attract the best-trained physicians.”

According to a report issued by the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals, New Jersey is facing significant future shortages in both primary care and several specialty areas. In eleven years there is a projected 12 percent shortfall in the physician supply versus the likely population demand for services.

The bill, S162, provides for redemption of qualifying loan expenses for physicians in specialties that are projected to experience a significant shortage in the State, if they work in the State for 10 years in designated underserved areas. The Advisory Graduate Medical Education Council, in consultation with the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals, would determine which specialties are projected to have a significant shortage. Underserved areas are those which have been ranked by the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services on the basis of health status and economic indicators.

“Perhaps more significantly, the demand for doctors is increasing because of the growing population of seniors,” Singer concluded. “It takes years to train a physician so we need to begin now because as the baby boom generation begins to retire we need to ensure that we have enough doctors to care and provide for everyone’s medical well-being.”

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