New bill aims to increase number of doctors in rural areas

    A view of the Oklahoma State Capitol (KOKH)

    A new bill going through the state legislature aims to increase the number of doctors in rural areas. This bill passed the House of Representatives yesterday.

    House Bill 2511 was authored by House Speaker Charles McCall.

    This bill would reduce a doctor's tax liability by up to $25,000 annually if he or she practices in a rural community for the tax year beginning in 2020.

    The bill defines rural communities as any municipality with a population of less than 25,000 and that is also located at least 25 miles from the nearest municipality with a population greater than 25,000.

    In a statement speaker McCall said: "Oklahoma ranks near the bottom of states for access to primary care in rural areas, and the majority of those primary care physicians we do have in rural Oklahoma are closing in on retirement."

    According to the 2015 Oklahoma Health Workforce Data Book: Oklahoma County ranks number one when it comes primary care access. There is 1 physician for every 250 people, a total of more than 3-thousand across the county. Grant County on the Kansas border is ranked 71st, with a population of of about 44-hundred, they have zero physicians.

    They have two physician assistants who work 5 days a week and that's it. House bill 2511 passed out of the House by a vote of 98-2 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

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