The state of California is paying off some doctors’ medical school debts in exchange for a commitment to care for Medicaid patients.

Under a new state program, physicians and dentists can see their medical debt eliminated or greatly reduced in exchange for a five-year commitment during which at least 30 percent of their patients are served by Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program.

The state expects to spend $340 million in this manner in the coming year, with the money coming from Proposition 56 tobacco tax revenue.  That measure included a $2 tax increase on every pack of cigarettes sold in the state.

California has traditionally had difficulty finding doctors to serve Medi-Cal patients because the state’s payments for serving those patients are especially low.  Compounding this problem is that more than half of Californians who attend medical school leave the state to do so and the state has done little to increase the number of doctors trained in its medical schools.

Learn more about what California is doing to increase the number of doctors who serve its Medicaid population in the Los Angeles Times article “California doesn’t have enough doctors. To recruit them, the state is paying off medical school debt.”