OKLAHOMA CITY – The House of Representatives today passed a measure aimed at encouraging more doctors to practice in rural areas of the state.
House Bill 2511, by House Speaker Charles McCall, would reduce a doctor’s tax liability by up to $25,000 annually if he or she practices in a rural community for the tax year beginning in 2020. The bill defines rural communities as any municipality with a population of less than 25,000 and that is also located at least 25 miles from the nearest municipality with a population greater than 25,000.
Speaker McCall said the bill is essentially a pilot program.
“Oklahoma ranks near the bottom of states for access to primary care in rural areas, and the majority of those primary care physicians we do have in rural Oklahoma are closing in on retirement,” said Speaker McCall, R-Atoka.
“We need a multifaceted approach to improving access to care in our smaller communities, and we have to find ways to incentivize providers to move into and practice in those communities. This would allow those doctors to take that money they saved and invest it in their practices, to pay student loans and to invest in the local community.”
The bill would limit the exemption only to doctors who practice in a rural area as defined and who graduated from a medical or osteopathic school in Oklahoma. The doctor must also reside in the same county where the qualifying income was earned. A doctor could claim the exemption for up to five years. The exemption would end once a total of $1 million was claimed statewide.
House Bill 2511 passed out of the House by a vote of 98-2 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.