Missouri bill hopes to attract doctors to rural areas with tax break

Missouri Bill offers Tax Credit to doctors who practice in rural counties
Missouri Bill offers Tax Credit to doctors who practice in rural counties(WGEM)
Published: May. 2, 2022 at 4:18 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Mo. (WGEM) - A bill looking to attract doctors to lower population and rural counties is moving through the state legislature.

HB 2133 would offer physicians a tax credit if they practice in a county with less than 35,000 people for five years.

Those at Scotland County Hospital said they hope the measure might give them the hiring boost they need.

Human Resources director Terri Schmitt said even through people express interest and are impressed with their facility, they end up turning down offers due to how rural the area is.

Schmitt said due to their current staffing level, hiring more doctors is a priority.

“It’s also really hard on the current physicians when they are pulling more calls than really, you know, should be because we might be short or somebody might need to go away for health reasons for awhile,” Schmitt said.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeffrey Davis said right now the hospital has three full time primary care physicians on staff, most of whom grew up in the area. He said they want to have five but they haven’t been able to recruit people to move to the area.

He said they are handling their patients and keeping their rural clinics staffed but he is concerned that if they don’t find more doctors they could potentially have to cut hospital services and their rural clinics could be in jeopardy.

Davis said the bill could be helpful but he is also concerned it might not be able to attract physicians to a county as small as theirs.

“Scotland County already competes with counties that are much bigger than we are that still would qualify for that tax credit,” he said. “I would be even more supportive of a bill like that if it gave a tax credit or a graduated tax credit based on the size of the county.”

The bill passed unanimously out of the House Rural Development Committee and is now in the Rules-Legislative Oversight Committee.

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