WebXtra: Primary care doctor shortage. What's the solution?...

By Philippe Djegal - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Texas legislators are calling for a tax on smokeless tobacco products. Why? Medical students graduate with an average debt in America of $160,000 and that's deterring them from serving in poorer neighborhoods and rural communities. The money generated from the tax would go towards helping alleviate some of the financial stress that medical students are facing when they get out of school.

We are discussing H.B. 2154 with health advocates, doctors, primary care physicians and politicians. We're going to try to get Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-TX) on the line. He is one of two senators that people are looking towards making sure this bill gets passed.

"I think it's a good bill, and I'm supportive of it," said Sen. Eltife. "But, you know, there's 13 days left in session and when you get a bill here in the House or Senate with 13 days left, it has to go through a process."

Advocates of this bill are hoping that if it passes, it will solve a situation that has become dire in Texas.

More than half of Texas' counties need more primary care providers. In fact, 114 counties in Texas don't meet the national standard of one physician per every 3,500 people. That's according to the Texas Academy of Family Physicians.

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