House Speaker Pro Tempore Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, this week secured unanimous committee passage of a bill that would provide income tax credits for doctors practicing in rural areas of the state.
House Bill 2089 is authored by O'Donnell and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, whose House District 22 includes an eastern portion of Garvin County.
The bill would grant up to a $25,000 tax credit for income from compensation directly related to the practice of medicine or osteopathic medicine by a qualifying physician.
“The lifestyle of rural physicians doesn’t always appeal to young students getting out of medical school these days,” O’Donnell told members of the House Rules Committee.
“This tax credit would help us incentivize doctors to go into practice in our state’s rural communities, an effort to bolster rural health care.”
McCall said the measure should help “us build the ranks of rural doctors to serve residents who choose to live in our state’s smaller communities.”
“These residents are as deserving of access to a family physician, obstetricians and or other health care specialists as people who live in more populous areas,” he said.
Doctors qualifying for the tax credit will be allowed to receive it for four subsequent years as long as they remain qualified. There would be a $1 million cap on the cumulative total of credits that could be claimed in any one year.
HB 2089 defines qualifying doctor as a medical doctor or osteopathic physician:
• who is licensed in Oklahoma on, after, or at any time within the two years prior to January 1, 2022, but not earlier than January 1, 2020;
• who has graduated from a college of medicine or has completed residency in Oklahoma; and
• whose primary residence is located in the same county as the qualifying rural area or within the jurisdiction of a federally recognized tribe and is directly employed by a tribally owned or operated health facility or federal Indian Health Service facility.
The measure defines rural area as a municipality or unincorporated location that has a population not exceeding 25,000, as determined by the most recent federal census, and is at least 25 miles from the boundary of the nearest municipality in Oklahoma with a population exceeding 25,000.
HB2089 passed the House Rules Committee with a vote of 8-0. It is now eligible to be considered by the full House.