Murkowski Reintroduces Rural Physicians Relief Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today introduced S.290 - the “Rural Physicians’ Relief Act of 2007.” Originally introduced in the 109th Congress, this legislation will both assist physicians who currently provide primary care in rural America and provide an incentive to encourage physicians to practice in these remote and underserved areas. “My hope is to encourage physicians to practice medicine in rural Alaska and throughout rural America,” said Senator Murkowski “Creating incentives that offset the high cost of providing care in the most remote areas of the nation will go far in recruiting physicians to the areas that are most in need of their services. This legislation will bring some much needed assistance to physicians who provide primary health services to rural America.” Patient access to health care in Alaska continues to be limited because of severe provider shortages. The state has 25% to 30% fewer physicians than is needed by the population, a total which ranks Alaska near the bottom in terms of physicians per capita in the country. The state needs to attract a minimum of 500 new doctors in order to meet the current national average of physicians per capita. An American Medical News article recently highlighted Alaska’s problematic situation, noting that “Alaska has long ranked among the worst states in terms of physician supply.” The Rural Physicians Relief Act of 2007 will give a physician who is a primary health services provider a $1,000 tax credit for each month that he or she provides services in a designated “frontier” area. In addition, physicians who treat a high percentage of patients from frontier areas would also be eligible for the tax credit. The National Rural Health Association endorses this legislation and the Alaska Medical Association strongly supports the bill. ###