California Offers School Debt Pay-Off To Lure More Doctors to the State

Bryan Ruiz’s hands were still shaking an hour after he learned the $300,000 in medical school loans he took out to become a dentist were being wiped away by California taxpayers.

A year out of medical school, Ruiz thought it would take decades to pay off the debt, particularly since he had accepted a less lucrative position at a community health clinic that primarily serves low-income Medi-Cal patients.

“This really is life-changing,” he said.

Ruiz was among the first physicians and dentists told this month that their medical school debt was being paid off by the state. In exchange, doctors must pledge that at least 30% of their caseloads will be devoted to Medi-Cal patients for five years.

“He’s committed his life to this kind of service, and that’s what our loan repayment program is about,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said of Ruiz at a news conference last week touting healthcare investments in the newly enacted California budget. “If you support providing quality care to Medi-Cal patients, we are going to support your journey by providing a little bit of relief on these loans.”

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