Lack of rural physicians getting worse - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Lack of rural physicians getting worse

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FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Health care reforms could force Kentucky to strengthen the recruitment of physicians in medically underserved areas of the state.

More than 600,000 additional people will soon be covered by Medicaid or private insurance.

The planned expansion of Kentucky's Medicaid program joined with a push to help the uninsured obtain health coverage through the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange is expected to worsen a longstanding shortage of physicians in many rural communities across Kentucky.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is considering different proposals to deal with the problem. Some ideas are to bring more international medical graduates into rural communities and to expand loan-forgiveness programs for doctors who set up practices in underserved areas.

"Issues around access to health care and workforce capacity have been a concern for a number of years in Kentucky," said Gwenda Bond, spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. "The Cabinet has undertaken a study to help us better understand those issues as the system prepares to meet the needs of the 640,000 currently uninsured Kentuckians who will finally have the quality health care coverage they deserve."

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