2018 Advocacy Preview: Physician Workforce

Date of Publication December 1, 2017

Iowa ranks 42nd in the nation for the number of physicians per capita, according to the most recently-available data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. In 14 of the 25 most common medical specialties, Iowa ranks 40th or below for the number of physicians per capita. As the median age of the population in our rural state continues to rise and more Iowans gain access to health coverage, the demand for physicians is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. IMS is committed to supporting policy initiatives that help increase the success rate of local communities’ physician recruitment efforts.

This was a driving force behind last session’s successful push for comprehensive tort reform to make Iowa’s medical liability insurance rates more in-line with neighboring states, which are competing to attract the next generation of physicians. This was also the impetus behind IMS and the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP) joining forces in 2012 to form the Rural Primary Care Loan Repayment Program.

A joint public-private endeavor, the Rural Primary Care Loan Repayment Program provides up to $200,000 in student loan repayments for qualifying physicians who agree to locate in a rural community of less than 26,000 people and practice there for a minimum of five years. The program is open to physicians who graduated from either Des Moines University or the University of Iowa, and who completed an Iowa-based residency. To qualify, the physician must specialize in family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, internal medicine, or general surgery.

Over the past five years, IMS and IAFP joint efforts have resulted in more than $8 million in state matching funds for the joint trust fund. In the face of budget shortfalls last session, legislators cut their annual appropriation to the program by approximately $500,000. In 2018, IMS will work with IAFP to protect this funding from further cuts and push legislators to restore full funding for this highly in-demand program.

For more information on this or any other proposed 2018 IMS Legislative Priorities, please contact Dennis Tibben with the IMS Center for Physician Advocacy.

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