A state House bill looks to forgive student loans for health professionals who work in underserved parts of Missouri. State Representative Kent Haden, R-Mexico, said that the state Department of Health and Senior Services initially focused the loan forgiveness on doctors, osteopaths, and dentists.

“Basically, they wanted to widen that scope to include all healthcare professionals,” he told Missourinet. “We have a current catastrophe in our health care in Missouri. We have three counties in Missouri that are considered adequate. The rest of the state is considered health care shortage areas and they range from maybe a little short to very, very, very short and catastrophic.”

Under the bill, the department would determine the amount being forgiven, in addition to designating which areas of the state are defined as areas of need for health care, mental health, or public health services.

The area Haden represents lost two regional hospitals. This proposed forgiveness is a way to incentivize workers going to those areas.

“We’re already in a situation, I consider, that we have health care rationing,” he said. “You know, unless you’re these medic quick facilities, they’re running full tilt because people just if you have a common cold or some you can’t get in to your physician, it’s becoming much, much, much more acute.”

Fellow Republican State Representative Darin Chappell opposes the bill, adding that he does not want the government to be responsible for forgiving student loan debt.

A House committee could soon decide whether the bill moves to the full House for review.

Click here for more on House Bill 542.

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