Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Oklahoma bill would give doctors a $25,000 income tax break for practicing in rural areas

Oklahoma wants to cure its rural doctor shortage by offering tax breaks to physicians who live and practice in rural areas, Dale Denwalt reports for NewsOK. A bill proposed in the state House would let medical and osteopathic doctors claim a $25,000 income tax break "for income earned in 2018 and later if they live and work in rural areas."

Rick Snyder, vice president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, said the state "has one of the worst doctor-to-patient ratios in the country," Denwalt writes. Snyder told Denwalt, “I do know that most doctors coming out of residency, unless they're from a rural background, are not really thinking of practicing in a rural area. It gives rural communities an important tool to attract physicians they would not otherwise be able to attract. And we need all of them we can get.”

Oklahoma already has the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust that awarded a $3.8 million grant in 2015  to fund more than 100 osteopathic physician residents in six hospitals and rural doctors can receive scholarships and loan repayment if they meet certain criteria, Denwalt writes. Despite those incentives, "most of the state is classified by federal regulators as having a shortage of primary medical care" with nearly all of the state's 77 counties having a shortage of doctors.

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