Harrisburg — Legislation sponsored by Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-21) to increase the number of health care providers in the Pennsylvania National Guard was approved today by the Senate.
The legislation improves the Medical Officer or Health Officer Incentive Program, which was created in 2014 through legislation Sen. Hutchinson authored (Act 78) to provide an education stipend to those who qualified through their time in the armed services.
“This incentive program began to provide a solution for what the Pennsylvania National Guard saw as a lack of health care providers within its ranks,” Hutchinson said. “Even though the program was successful in attracting providers into Guard service, some health professionals, such as dentists and physician assistants, were inadvertently left out of the program.”
Senate Bill 927 would establish a broader definition of health professional to capture those left out of the original program. It would also create education stipend tiers based on the participant’s education level, so that physicians and physician assistants would get a higher reimbursement to help pay down their higher tuition debt.
“The Medical and Health Officer Incentive program significantly increased our ability to recruit and retain military medical professionals in the Pennsylvania National Guard. Since the program was established in 2014, over 100 health care providers have joined the Guard with 80% participating in the program,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “This incentive program is critical to support the medical readiness of our Guard members and their ability to provide medical support to our communities.”
“Act 78 was a resounding success, bringing numerous health professionals into the Guard to fill a crucial need,” Hutchinson said. “This legislation will strengthen the program and allow for even more health professionals to take advantage of this opportunity.”
The bill was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
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