Senate Bill No. 126

Introduced By nelson

By Request of the Board of Regents

A Bill for an Act entitled: An Act increasing the maximum amount of an educational debt payment that a rural physician may receive from the board of regents; and amending section

20-26-1503, MCA.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:

Section 1.  Section 20-26-1503, MCA, is amended to read:

"20-26-1503.   Use of rural physician incentive trust fund. (1) The rural physician incentive trust fund is statutorily appropriated, as provided in 17-7-502, to the board of regents of higher education to be used to pay:

(a)  the educational debts of rural physicians who practice in medically underserved areas of the state that demonstrate a need for assistance in physician recruitment; and

(b)  the expenses of administering the rural physician incentive program. The expenses of administering the program may not exceed 10% of the annual fees assessed pursuant to 20-26-1502.

(2)  The board of regents shall establish procedures for determining the areas of the state that qualify for assistance in physician recruitment. An eligible area must demonstrate that a physician shortage exists or that the area has been unsuccessful in recruiting physicians by other mechanisms.

(3)  A physician from an area determined to be eligible under subsection (2) may apply to the board of regents for payment of an educational debt directly related to a professional school, as provided in subsection (4). Physicians who have paid the fee authorized in 20-26-1502 must be given a preference over other applicants. To receive the educational debt payments, the physician shall sign an annual contract with the board of regents. The contract must provide that the physician is liable for the payments if the physician ceases to practice in the eligible area during the contract period.

(4)  The maximum amount of educational debt payment that a rural physician may receive is $30,000 $45,000 over a 4-year 5-year period or a proportionally reduced amount for a shorter period.

(5)  The amount contractually committed in a year may not exceed the annual amount deposited in the rural physician incentive trust fund."