State moves to reimburse Florida dentists for student loans if they agree to work in underserved areas

State moves to reimburse Florida dentists for student loans if they agree to work in underserved areas

(WWSB) - A Florida House health-care panel has moved forward with a bill that would allow Florida dentists to qualify for up to $250,000 in student-loan repayments if they agree to work in public-health programs or underserved areas.

The legislation would establish the loan-repayment program at the Florida Department of Health. Loan repayments would be available to dentists who are willing to practice in public health or in areas of the state that lack dental professionals or are medically underserved. The legislation is a priority of the Florida Dental Association, says spokesperson Joe Anne Hart.

“That bill would encourage and incentive dentists to go into underserved areas, and work as a full time Medicaid provider to treat those in these underserved areas. They would work in county health departments and community health centers," Joe Anne Hart, Florida Dental Association

The bills would limit to 10 the number of dentists who could benefit each year under the program. Dentists could qualify for as much as $50,000 annually in loan repayments for up to a five-year period.

“If this program as implemented over five years, we would possibly be able to help over one million patients in these areas, because one dentist could see up to about 2,000 patients," Joe Anne Hart, Florida Dental Association

The measure has passed one of three committee stops in the State House, while the State Senate version has not been heard in committees ahead of the 2019 legislative session which begins next week.

Copyright 2019 WWSB. All rights reserved.