The Ohio House of Representatives has signed off on a bill that would repay outstanding chiropractic school debt for doctors of chiropractic who agree to serve in regions of the state where there is a chiropractic shortage.
The House voted 95-1 in favor of Substitute House Bill 151, known as the Chiropractic Loan Repayment Program, and the bill next goes to the state senate.
Chiropractors agreeing to serve in a “designated chiropractic health resource shortage area” for a least two years, seeing “patients regardless of their ability to pay” will be eligible.
“I believe that chiropractic care is one of the most effective, safest, and yet underutilized assets in health care,” said Rep. Rick Carfagna, R-Genoa Township, in a news release. “I applaud those in the chiropractic profession who have shown that they are prepared to step up and grow their own ranks through the self-funding of this program.”
Recipients will be eligible for up to $10,000 annually for repayment of outstanding chiropractic school debt, and total repayment may not exceed $30,000.
There are more than 2,500 licensed chiropractors in Ohio. The state recently approved a similar measure for public defenders to attract more public defenders throughout Ohio.
“The average DC graduate finishes school with significant student loan debt, many of them over $100,000 — not even counting the student loan debt taken out from undergrad years, which averages around $28,288,” writes Jeff Gitlen. “In one study of Kansas City-area medical professionals, 41 out of 62 graduates who had defaulted on their loans were chiropractors, with the highest default amount being $160,000.”
More than half of all chiropractors are self-employed, and often need to take out commercial or business loans to get their businesses set up and running. New DCs often have to make a sizable investment in equipment, a lease or mortgage on office space, capital to ensure survivability over the first 12 months, and supporting themselves and their families during the practice startup phase.
“We all know that our profession has a problem,” Perry Chinn, DC, wrote of debt reform for Chiropractic Economics magazine. “We cannot afford the tremendous debt that follows new doctors into practice. Our educational institutions have an insatiable thirst for tuition dollars. Classroom seats must be filled, and salaries paid to instructors and administrators. And yet we also have a responsibility to those coming into colleges who are choosing to believe that any amount of debt will be worth it in the end.”