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U.S. Senator Dick Durbin Sponsors Rural America Health Corps Act

US senator Dick Durbin meet with health care leaders from the area Wednesday.

He’s co-sponsoring a bill that creates a program for student loan forgiveness to health care providers in rural communities.

The Rural America Health Corps Act was introduced in July and co-sponsored by US Senator Dick Durbin.

Health care professionals that sign up for the program will have 5 years of student loan forgiveness as long as they’re serving in an rural community.

Durbin says this aims to address the workforce shortage in rural communities.

“They’re be an enticement there for more loan forgiveness and a longer period of service which we hope as you heard from the professionals here means that they’ll come to like these communities and want to build a practice here.”

Shawnee Health Services CEO Patsy Jensen says their facility and employees works hard to provide the services needed, but they’re constrained.

Patsy Jensen, CEO Shawnee Health Services
Credit Benjy Jeffords / WSIU
Patsy Jensen, CEO Shawnee Health Services

“We can’t recruit and we can’t expand and so we’ve had to limit the patients because we’re backed up 6 to 8 months with patient appointments.”

Jensen says the loan forgiveness program will help their facility and others like it because there’s always a spot to fill.

“Recruiting clinicians to rural areas and specialty services is extremely difficult and sometimes out of reach of community health centers.”

This act builds upon the National Health Service Corps which offers two years of loan forgiveness in underserved areas.

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