Loan forgiveness plan a good idea

A cohort of state Senate leaders has proposed legislation this session that would forgive student loans for health care professionals who promise to work for at least three years in a rural community.

When it comes to allocating the state’s tax dollars, greater Minnesota is often overlooked, especially when it comes to health care and education. On occasion, health facilities in small towns face uphill battles when trying to court young doctors and other specialists to come work in a rural area.

A recent report from the state’s Office of Rural Health and Primary Care illustrated this problem. It found that one-third of the state’s physicians and nurse practitioners will retire in the next 10 years, alluding to the possibility of a serious shortage of workers in the near future. In addition, the report found that about 11 percent of primary-care providers live in rural communities, but 17 percent of the state’s population lives in those areas.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor senators who are proposing this measure are wise to incentivize young health professionals to work in areas that may be struggling and to encourage these young workers to spread throughout the state rather than stay put in the metro area.

With some medical school students’ loan debt easily skyrocketing over $200 million, some sort of reform is needed. The benefits of this legislation for students are well-intentioned and have the potential to be highly effective.

We hope lawmakers can agree to support this idea for the benefit of our state and its students.