To solve Nevada’s doctor shortage, one Las Vegas lawmaker proposes helping doctors pay off student debt in exchange for working in the Silver State, all in an effort to help lure more medical professionals.
“It’s been a continuing problem for the state of Nevada: even if you have insurance, you don’t have access to a doctor. As we continue to grow as a population, we are only exasperating that problem,” said Assemblywoman Heidi Kasama of District 2, who proposes the creation of a “Doctors for Nevada” program. “My program says, ‘Come and join us we will help pay off your student debt,’” she said.
The proposal had input from leaders from UNLV and UNR.
A doctor practicing out-of-state can move to Nevada and get help paying off student loans. The program would require a minimum of a two-year commitment and a $200,000 cap, Kasama said.
Here’s how the “Doctors for Nevada” program could look like, as proposed:
- Year 1 and 2: $60,000 annually for student debt
- Year 3 and 4: $40,000 annually for student debt
For doctors who need out-of-state training for residency specialties, they could get a stipend of up to $100,000 over 4 years; upon return, they could get $50,000 a year over a span of two years.
The program would require reimbursement plus penalty fees if a program recipient leaves early, Kasama said. Funding would come from grants, gifts, donations and 50% state appropriations, she said.
According to the Nevada Hospital Association, Nevada needs to add 1,589 doctors to the workforce to keep pace with the national average. Nevada ranks 49th per capita for primary care physicians and 50th per capita for surgeons and psychiatrists.
“We can combine tourism, with the medical industry. We can become a medical center in the Southwest,” she said.
A spokesperson for Assembly Democrats said lawmakers will wait to see the bill text before commenting.