Howell reports that the total number of doctors in the program is now up to more than 10,000 from 3,600 in 2008. Texas ranks 47th in the number of primary care doctors per 100,000 people, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges' 2011 physician workforce report. Howell reports fewer than 18,000 primary-care doctors serve the state's 25 million people, 3.5 million of which live in rural areas.
The National Health Service Corps is "reasonably effective in getting doctors into medically underserved areas, particularly in short-term stints," said Dr. Howard Rabinowitz, a rural health expert at Thomas Jefferson University. The Department of Health and Human Services announced last October the program had provided almost $900 million in loan repayment because of investments from the new health-care law. (Read more)