Missouri targets doctor dearth, expands first-in-nation law

An emergency sign points to the entrance to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, on March 23, 2017. Photo By Mike Blake/Reuters

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Numerous doctors from around the U.S. could become eligible to treat patients in Missouri's underserved areas as a result of a planned expansion of a first-in-the-nation law aimed at addressing doctor shortages.

The newly passed Missouri legislation would broaden the reach of a 2014 law that sought to bridge the gap between communities in need of doctors and physicians in need of jobs.

Supporters have touted the law as a model for other states.

The law created a new category of "assistant physicians" for people who graduated from medical school and passed key medical exams but were not placed in residency programs. But it took nearly 2½ years to implement.

Missouri's new legislation turns back the clock, so those who became ineligible during the slow rollout still can qualify.

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