May 03, 2021
Area(s) of Interest: Advocacy Physician Workforce
The California Medical Association (CMA) is sponsoring bipartisan federal legislation to allow California and Texas physicians to participate in the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
The bill— HR 1133, the “Stopping Doctor Shortages Act”— provides a technical fix to the program, which allows physicians who “work in” a non-profit hospital or clinic for 10 years to have their education loans forgiven.
Unfortunately, when the U.S. Department of Education wrote the implementing regulations, they narrowed the regulations to require physicians to be directly employed. Because state laws in California and Texas prohibit most hospital employment of physicians, our physicians were unintentionally excluded from the program. Physicians in all other 48 states participate in the program.
“The inadvertent exclusion is severely limiting our ability to recruit and retain physicians because they cannot receive loan forgiveness in California or Texas, and the inequity ultimately harms patient access to physicians in community hospitals and clinics,” CMA wrote in a letter to Congress, signed jointly by the Texas Medical Association, California Hospital Association and the Texas Hospital Association. “We must be able to operate on a level-playing field with other states to attract young physicians who can keep pace with the increasing demand for patient care. The data show that California and Texas are clearly being disadvantaged by the inadvertent errors made in the implementation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program that do not allow our states to maintain an appropriate physician workforce.”
The fix in HR 1133 will allow California and Texas physicians to fully participate in PSLF Program. Legislation is necessary because federal regulators under both the Obama and Trump Administrations have not been willing to reopen the regulations related to the PSLF program.
CMA is asking all physicians to contact their Members of Congress to urge them to cosponsor HR 1133. We need to enlist every California Representative as a cosponsor to show Congressional leadership the urgent need to sustain a physician workforce and protect patient access to care in California.
Please urge your Member of Congress to cosponsor HR 1133, the “Stopping Doctors Shortages Act” today.