Group Wants Incentives for Dentists

December 1, 2007–Albuquerque Journal–Olivier Uyttebrouck— More financial aid for New Mexico students attending out-of-state dental schools and loans to help set up rural clinics are among the goals of the New Mexico Dental Association. The association will also ask lawmakers to eliminate a 7 percent grossreceipts tax on dental services, executive director Mark Moores said. “New Mexicans’ health care dollar is reduced by 7 percent,” Moores said of the tax. He and others held a news conference Friday to discuss the group’s agenda for the upcoming legislative session. The tax generates about $14.7 million a year in state and local revenue, the group estimates. Other states in the region do not tax dental services, Moores said. The association plans to ask legislators to provide annual stipends for an additional 20 students attending out-of-state dental schools. New Mexico now provides annual stipends of $21,000 each for 40 students attending dental schools in Colorado, Oregon and elsewhere. The state pays the stipends directly to schools, allowing New Mexico students to pay in-state tuition rates at those schools. There are no dental schools in New Mexico. The association also plans to urge lawmakers to create a loan program that would help dentists establish practices in rural areas. A portion of the loan would be canceled each year the dentist continues practice in the area. Such measures are required to encourage dentists to practice in New Mexico’s rural areas, said Albuquerque dentist Dr. Thomas Schripsema. The dentists are often compelled to practice in urban areas because they must pay off school loans of $200,000 or more, he said. “The debt that students come out with is a real disincentive to set up practice in rural areas,” Schripsema said. He had no estimate on how much money the group will seek to create the loan program.

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