Governor signs Haler’s bill to help ease doctor shortages in rural areas

Governor Jay Inslee today signed legislation sponsored by Rep. Larry Haler, R-Richland, to help hospitals and clinics in rural areas provide much needed primary care services.

“This change in law will make a difference in the quality of care and the availability of health care services for our underserved rural areas,” said Haler. “It's been a lot of work to get us to this point and I'm very pleased the governor has signed this very important legislation.”

Haler's bill, House Bill 1485, seeks to increase the number of family medicine physicians in shortage areas by providing fiscal incentives for hospitals and clinics to develop or expand residency programs.  The medical schools that participate in the Family Medicine Residency Network (FMRN) is expanded to include the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima and would also include future accredited medical schools.  His bill would also require the schools to prioritize future residencies for shortage areas and has an accountability measure that requires regular reporting from physicians, physician assistants, osteopathic physicians and osteopathic physician assistants.

“Studies have shown a direct correlation between where a physician does their residency and where they ultimately end up practicing,” said Haler.  “Encouraging more residency programs in our underserved areas will help ensure adequate primary care for our rural areas into the future.”

Haler's bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously.


Washington State House Republican Communications