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State lawmakers hope to address Upstate doctor shortage through legislation

Oneida County State Sen. Joe Griffo

State Sen. Joe Griffo (R-Rome) said he has been approached by a number of doctors from the Mohawk Valley to the North Country who say many upstate communities are currently unable to recruit and retain healthcare workers.

"You’re seeing more shortages in many areas, primarily in primary care but also in the specialties too, and that is a concern and will be a challenge," Griffo said.

So, lawmakers including Griffo and Oswego County State Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Oswegatchie) have put forth a number of bills to tackle the problem this session of the New York State Legislature, from loan forgiveness to tax breaks for doctors who move to underserved areas. Griffo hopes to coordinate with other upstate politicians on this matter. But first, he said the state needs to shine a light on the problem.

"I think it's worthy of a statewide effort," He said. "The governor has talked about some things in healthcare, but I think right now we're not giving this the proper attention and recognition that it needs, particularly in the upstate area."

The shortage of healthcare professionals isn't limited to upstate New York. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States will face a physician shortage of between 42,000-121,000 physicians by 2030.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.