Neptune, New Jersey (My9NJ) -

New Jersey is experiencing a shortage of doctors. In fact, it’s projected that by 2020 the state will be about 3,000 primary care physicians short of what is needed to give optimal health care.

So why are doctors fleeing the Garden State?

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New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals 2012 Leadership Forum Medical Education: Aligning to Create Value September 6, 2012 Monroe Township, NJ Forum Summary

 In an all-out effort to get ahead of the coming tsunami in health care reform, the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals convened leaders of the state’s teaching hospitals and medical schools to get clarity on the issues and begin hammering out solutions – together.

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On Thursday, June 7, 2012 Deborah Briggs testified before the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. After thanking Committee Chair Senator Joseph Vitale, and Vice Chair Senator Fred Madden for the opportunity to provide testimony in support of the S-1336 and S-2002, she commended Senators Beck, Vitale, Singer, and Rice for their strong leadership on this important issue. 
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The Council presented a summary report of twenty three Individual Hospital Report (IHR) submissions to Commissioner Mary O’Dowd for her review before her 2013 testimony in front of the Assembly Budget Committee (ABU) Wednesday, April 18, 2012.
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A state program that repays up to $120,000 in student loan debt for primary care clinicians who agree to work at least four years in medically underserved areas of New Jersey is having success recruiting and retaining healthcare workers in communities where they are needed the most. The student loan repayment provided by the state is over and above the salary clinicians negotiate when they go to work in an under-served area.  
 
State law created the Primary Care Practitioner Loan Redemption Program of New Jersey in 1992. Applicants are expected to commit a minimum of two years to the program, which is overseen by the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority.
 
The program is succeeding at its ultimate goal, which is to increase medical care in underserved areas, according to a 2007 report on the program’s first 15 years. That report found that 222 primary care clinicians enrolled in the program through 2007, and that 85 percent continued to work in underserved areas of New Jersey after completing their work requirement. Of the 222 clinicians, there were 110 primary care physicians, 100 dentists, four nurse practitioners, two nurse midwives and, six physician assistants.
 
Sharon W. Bryant is director of the loan redemption program, which is based in Newark at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Since the program’s inception, it has been able to award loan repayments contracts to clinicians each year, even through the level of funding from the state budget has fluctuated, she said.
 
In fiscal 2010, the program received $2 million in funding. The following year, fiscal 2011, no new money was appropriated, but Bryant said the program still had sufficient funds to continue making new awards. In the current fiscal year, new funding of $1.125 million was provided, and for fiscal 2013, Governor  Christie is recommending $1.5 million: $1.125 million for primary care practitioners and $375,000 for student loan redemptions for nursing school faculty.
 
NJCTH continues to advocate the legislature to restore funding to $2 million to create a more robust program that reaches more graduating residents.
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On Wednesday, March 7, 2012 Deborah Briggs testified before the Assembly Budget Committee (ABU) addressing topics in health, human services, senior, family and children’s issues in the proposed  SFY 2013 budget. Ms. Briggs thanked the ABU for their continued funding of GME and for recognizing the importance of this funding even in difficult financial times. She acknowledged that the proposed budget remains constant, and shows bipartisan support for New Jersey’s facilities, doctors, and the many healthcare workers around the state. She also noted that despite the proposal to maintain the additional $30M in GME funding, the state’s share of GME expenses remains $183M below cost of services provided to the Medicaid population. Ms. Briggs stated that we understood this is a continuous process of delineating facts and rationale for improving this funding stream.
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