Tax Credit for Rural Physicians Clears Oklahoma House

OKLAHOMA CITY- (April 27, 2006)- The shortage of rural physicians in Oklahoma means residents have less access to quality health care, but a proposed tax incentive could encourage more doctors to move to and practice in rural areas of the state.

Senate Bill 1498, by state Sen. Patrick Anderson (R-Enid) and state Rep. James Covey, would give an income tax credit for primary care physicians in towns with less than 25,000 people or who establish a primary residence in such a town. The credit would equal 25 percent of the premium paid on their medical liability insurance.

“There is a grave need for more physicians in our rural areas,” said

Covey, D-Custer City . “Too many good medical professionals either practice in large urban areas or move to other states. We need to start leveling the playing field, and this is a great step in that direction.”

There are approximately 857 primary care physicians who practice in towns with populations of less than 25,000. Covey believes the tax credit will encourage many physicians to consider the benefits of practicing in rural communities.

However, the impact of each doctor on rural economies is tremendous, according to a study by Gerald A. Doeksen, professor of economics at Oklahoma State University .

Doeksen found that each rural physician was worth 17 jobs and $343,706 in economic impact each year.

The Oklahoma Physician Manpower Training Commission has placed physicians in rural communities for over 25 years. These physicians have returned $3.6 billion dollars of direct and indirect economic impact on the state.

SB 1498 passed on the House floor by a vote of 89-0 and now returns to the Senate for final approval.

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