U.S. Senate Committee: Doctors of Chiropractic Eligible for Federal Loan Repayment Program

In a report to accompany legislation reauthorizing the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions made it abundantly clear that doctors of chiropractic are eligible to qualify for inclusion in the NHSC Loan Repayment program. The report language, which will accompany bill S.901, is supported by both the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC). “For more than 35 years, doctors of chiropractic were excluded from the National Health Service Corps because we were not mentioned explicitly as eligible providers,” said ACA President Glenn Manceaux, DC. “Many areas of the country are experiencing shortages of qualified health professionals, and doctors of chiropractic are uniquely positioned to provide high-quality, cost-effective care to the nation’s underserved communities. I applaud the Senate committee for taking this action and I look forward to chiropractic inclusion in the program.” “This is a great victory, particularly for chiropractic students who are ready, willing and able to serve in the NHSC,” said ACC President Carl Cleveland III, DC. “Chiropractic graduates enter the profession well-qualified, prepared and most eager to serve, but many are positioned to enter practice with considerable student loan indebtedness. Thanks to the Committee’s action, doctors of chiropractic—especially the next generation of doctors graduating from our colleges—will soon have an opportunity to participate in this important loan forgiveness program.” Originally enacted in 1970, NHSC allows selected health care professionals engaged in the delivery of primary care services to be reimbursed for student loans in return for establishing and maintaining their practices in geographic areas designated as “medically underserved” by the federal government. Unfortunately, the NHSC Loan Repayment program has not included doctors of chiropractic as eligible providers. In 2002, at the request of ACA and ACC, Congress enacted language that authorized a two-year demonstration program intended to explore the feasibility of opening the program to doctors of chiropractic. The demonstration program began in 2003 and was later extended through 2007. The demonstration results are now being evaluated by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. Report language accompanying S. 901 becomes effective once the bill has been passed by the full Senate. S. 901 has not yet been scheduled for further consideration. Watch ACA publications and the association’s Web site for more information as it becomes available. To access the full committee report Click on the link below. The information regarding inclusion of doctors of chiropractic can be found on page 19.

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