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American Urological Association Thanks House Lawmakers for Striving to Improve Access to Health Care in Rural America

BALTIMORE, Feb. 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- According to a 2019 statement from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), 252 counties in the rural United States are without a single health care provider, and a specialty such as urology can only be found in 38 percent of all U.S. counties. With 1/5 of Americans living in a non-urban region and only 11 percent of physicians practicing in those same areas, access to preventive measures and lifesaving treatments is severely limited for millions of U.S. citizens. Further exacerbating the workforce shortage, nearly 54 percent of urology residents have more than $150,000 in student loan debt, and for approximately 27 percent of them, the figure is $250,000 or more.

To help address this rural shortfall, Representatives David McKinley (R-WV-01) and Peter Welch (D-VT-At Large) introduced H.R. 944, which seeks to improve access to care in rural America through a student loan forgiveness program for specialty physicians. The bill authorizes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide urologists and other qualified specialty medicine physicians the opportunity to have a portion of their eligible student loans repaid by the federal government in exchange for practicing in a rural community experiencing a shortage of specialty medicine physicians.

"Over half of urology residents are entering into practice with $150,000.00 or more of student loan debt, and a recent AUA survey showed that 70 percent of those residents will base their decision on where to practice – in part – on programs that can offer some form of student loan forgiveness or repayment. This puts rural hospitals and practices at a disadvantage, as most cannot afford to offer such incentives," says AUA Legislative Affairs Spokesperson Mark Fallick, MD.

The American Urological Association (AUA) is asking its members and other stakeholders to encourage their lawmakers to support H.R. 944, which provides improved access to essential health services for many Americans by helping to increase the number of practicing specialty physicians in rural America. 

To take action visit this link or text AUA to 52886 to get started.

About the American Urological Association: Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is a leading advocate for the specialty of urology and has nearly 24,000 members throughout the world. The AUA is a premier urologic association, providing invaluable support to the urologic community as it pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care through education, research and the formulation of health policy.

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SOURCE American Urological Association