UI Health Alliance to help fund rural physicians program
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The UI Health Alliance announced today, Friday, Dec. 6, that it will make a $1 million commitment over several years to help fund the Iowa Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program during an event on the campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and other elected officials were on hand to celebrate the announcement.
The legislature established the Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program in 2012. The program provides loan repayments for medical students who agree to practice as physicians in rural areas for five years following graduation and meet certain requirements.
“This important effort will help to enhance the health and well-being of communities across our great state, especially in medically underserved areas,” says Sally Mason, UI president.
The physicians in the program will agree to practice in service commitment areas, which are defined as any city in Iowa with a population of less than 26,000 that is located more than 20 miles from a city with a population of 50,000. Those communities must make a $20,000 contribution for deposit in the rural Iowa primary care trust fund for each physician in the community who is participating in the loan repayment program.
Speaking as chairperson of the UI Health Alliance, Dave Vellinga, president and chief executive officer of the Mercy Health Network, stated, “The founding members of the UI Health Alliance believe that ensuring local access to medical care is a critical issue for our state. By helping support this innovative initiative, we are continuing to strengthen rural communities and invest in the health of Iowans for generations to come.”
Jean Robillard, UI vice president for medical affairs, adds, “Our governor and state lawmakers are to be commended for their leadership and vision in bringing this vitally needed program to life.”
Up to 20 medical students at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine or Des Moines University – Osteopathic Medical Center may enroll in the program every year.
“This program represents a critical step toward reducing the debt of $164,000 that our students must shoulder when they graduate, as well as bringing crucially necessary health care closer to home for rural Iowans,” says Debra Schwinn, dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine. “This represents a classic win-win scenario for everybody.”
UI Health Alliance, comprised of Mercy Health Network, Genesis Health System, Mercy—Cedar Rapids, and UI Health Care, includes over 50 hospitals and more than 160 clinics. The members of the alliance work together to advance the high quality of health care services, to improve the health status of patients and communities, and to achieve efficiencies that will help member organizations reduce the rising cost of care for their patients. Members strive to increase the value of services provided, improve clinical integration among the members, provide more streamlined and coordinated care to patients, and ultimately improve the health of people in Iowa and other regions served.