New Jersey is in the midst of a physician shortage and the situation is worsening. Hoping to solve the problem, the Assembly Higher Education Committee today approved a bill creating a loan redemption program.

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The measure is co-sponsored by Assembly members Lou Greenwald, Craig Coughlin, Vinnie Prieto and Celeste Riley.

“Loan forgiveness is one of the top factors that medical residents look for in determining a practice,” said Greenwald (D-Voorhees). “With the physician shortage worsening in our state, it’s critical that we take a proactive approach now to ensure that New Jersey residents have access to an abundance of top-notch care.”

The legislation would create a Physician Loan Redemption Program to target underserved areas of the state with the most significant shortages and give loan redemption incentives.

“This bill is based on a comprehensive report that identified the barriers that impede our state from addressing physician shortages, one of them being the lack of a loan redemption program to compete with other states,” said Coughlin (D-Woodbridge). “If we can strategically target the specialties experiencing shortages, then we can use this program to address the pressing health needs of our state.”

The bill would use half of an existing $1.5 million appropriation for redemption of qualifying loan expenses for physicians who serve at least four-years at an approved site of a clinical practice of primary care or specialized care.

Program participants must be state residents, must have graduated from a medical school approved by the State Board of Medical Examiners, and have completed an accredited residency training program.