Wicker works to increase number of specialty physicians serving in rural areas

Legislation introduced on May 26 by U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) aims to help address the nationwide shortage of specialty physicians serving patients in America’s rural communities.

The Specialty Physicians Advancing Rural Care (SPARC) Act, S. 4330, which is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), would amend the Public Health Service Act to authorize a student loan repayment program to encourage specialty medicine physicians to serve in rural communities that are experiencing a shortage of such physicians, according to the congressional record bill summary. 

“Rural communities have a chronic shortage of specialty providers, and Congress should do what it can to address the problem,” Sen. Wicker said. “The SPARC Act would move the ball forward by offering much-needed student loan relief for physicians and other medical professionals who serve in rural areas.”

Among several provisions, S. 4330 would establish the student loan repayment program for specialty medicine physicians and non-physician specialty healthcare providers under the Health Resources and Services Administration, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Wicker’s staff. 

“I’m introducing this bipartisan legislation because we need to do more to incentivize specialty physicians and other specialized medical professionals to work in rural areas and underserved communities,” said Sen. Rosen.

The legislation has garnered support from the American Gastroenterological Association, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the American Medical Students Association, the Student National Medical Association, the American Urological Association, and the American College of Rheumatology.