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L.A. Care Announces $2M Round of Medical Student Debt Relief for 14 Safety Net Physicians

Westlake-based L.A. Care Health Plan this month announced another round of $2 million in grants for student loan debt relief for 14 physicians who are working at safety net medical providers – clinics and practices that provide care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.


“Nearly 90% of medical school graduates have some student loan debt, and the average amount owed is more than $241,000. That has contributed to the shortage of primary care physicians in underserved communities,” John Baackes, L.A. Care’s chief executive, said in the Jan. 5 announcement. “L.A. Care is committed to ensuring its members, many of whom are low-income people of color, have access to high-quality physicians.”

L.A. Care Health Plan is a public insurer that serves more than 2.7 million members in Los Angeles County, making it the largest publicly operated health plan in the country.

This is the sixth round of Provider Loan Repayment Program grants in L.A. Care’s $155 million Elevating the Safety Net initiative, which launched in 2018 to recruit, train and retain highly qualified primary care physicians at hospitals, clinics and other medical providers that provide care to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

Since the launch of Elevating the Safety Net, L.A. Care – with the help of Uncommon Good, a Claremont-based nonprofit that helps identify the appropriate grantees – has awarded nearly $26 million in loan repayment grants in support of 158 physicians.

The loan repayment program is one of several programs under the Elevating the Safety Net initiative.

Another program offers grants of up to $125,000 per medical group to provide salary subsidies, relocation costs and other bonuses so long as the physicians provide care regardless of the patients’ ability to pay.

A third program provides medical school scholarships: four per year at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in Westwood and four per year at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Lynwood.

Howard Fine
Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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