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Lawmakers debate fixes for Utah doc shortage

First question is whether the U. of U. produces enough primary-care doctors.

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"As we move from fee-for-service and high-end speciality care to more constrained payment models that reward providers for keeping people healthy, I think we all see the role of primary-care providers growing," she said. The U.’s hospitals and clinics this year increased their primary-care workforce by 30 percent.

"I do MRI and radiology, the most expensive thing," said Lee, a radiologist. "But I tell students, ‘Honestly, if you’re looking for job security and financial stability, I’d do primary care.’ "

At a glance

Utah doc shortage

Among remedies being floated by Utah’s Legislature are several budget requests and bills:

Rep. Ronda Menlove, R-Garland, wants money to expand telehealth offerings, enabling specialists to consult remote primary-care providers in rural areas.

Rep. Tim Cosgrove, D-Murray, is seeking money to fund more charity clinics and to restart a defunct loan-repayment program for medical school graduates who agree to work in underserved areas.

SB168 would shield health providers who volunteer at federally qualified charity clinics and Indian health centers from being sued — except for gross, wanton or willful negligence. “Many physicians in this state would be willing to volunteer their services if they were not subject to the high exposure of liability,” said sponsoring Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden.

SB125 would allow retired health providers to get a “volunteer health practitioner license” from Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing if they previously had an unrestricted license in any state, district or territory of the United States.

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