A briefing for members of Congress regarding the risk of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) losing its funding was held Aug. 2 and included testimony from a woman who benefited from the loan repayment program, the American Academy of Family Physicians said in a release.
"I always wanted to be a doctor," Andrea Anderson, a Washington, D.C., family physician, said at the conference when discussing how the NHSC helped her pursue her dream career, according to the release. "I liked 'Little House on the Prairie' and liked the idea of living in the community and caring for patients' needs from cradle to grave."
Anderson was stuck with a large amount of debt after medical school, but once she joined the NHSC, she was able to work at the community center while paying her debt. Although she is a director of family medicine at Unity Health Care, she continues to teach residents at NHSC.
"This is definitely a program that recruits top-notch doctors and dentists," Anderson said in the releasde. "How do you keep the pipeline open? One of the ways you can do it is through the NHSC."
The NHSC was started in 1972 and since its inception, it has been a program dedicated to helping family physicians pay off their educational loans in exchange for service in areas that have a shortage of health care professionals. The program's annual funding is $310 million, but the funding plan is set to expire on Sept. 30.
Funding for the NHSC can be extended with help from Congress. Two legislators, U.S. Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), are supporting a letter that calls for their peers to push for the continuation of funding for the NHSC.
"Funding is set to expire at the end of this fiscal year, endangering the future of this cost-effective primary health care program," the letter said. "This program has traditionally received bipartisan support and we intend to continue these efforts moving forward."