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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: May 28, 2015 03:36 PM
From: Representative Karen Boback
To: All House members
Subject: Increase Loan Exoneration Limit for Dentists Under the Primary Care Loan Repayment Program
I plan to introduce legislation that would amend the Children’s Health Care Act, increasing the loan exoneration limit to $200,000 for dentists who are part of the Primary Care Loan Repayment Program. The Children’s Health Care Act establishes this program to meet the needs of rural or medically underserved communities in Pennsylvania, by providing loan repayment for practitioners in exchange for two years of full time or half time service at a Department of Health-approved primary care sight.

The purpose of this bill is to provide incentives for individuals to pursue higher education in the field of dentistry, as well as serving the people of this Commonwealth with crucial medical help. According to the Pennsylvania Dental Association and American Dental Education Association, student debt can jeopardize new dentists’ ability to choose their preferred career path, and rising educational costs might discourage potential students from pursuing dentistry altogether. Educational debt effects whether dental school graduates pursue specialty training, enter private practice, work in underserved communities, or enter public service, teaching or research. The cost of starting a practice can cost hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, of dollars. Recent graduates often shy away from underserved or low population areas because of these overwhelming financial burdens and the need for a stable patient base.

The current model provides for up to $100,000 in loan repayment possibilities to dentists who agree to a two-year, full-time commitment to practice in a health professional shortage area. This amount is inadequate given the amount of debt most dental students accumulate. This is why I am introducing legislation to increase the funding to $200,000.

Loan repayment has proven successful in strengthening a community’s overall economy. It encourages dental school graduates to practice in underserved areas and improves workforce conditions by employing hygienists and assistants and others who may have difficulty finding employment.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB1259