On August 29, the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians hosted a meeting of the Ohio Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative Workforce Learning Center. This group originally began meeting as the Patient-Centered Medical Home Advisory Council, under provisions of Ohio’s patient-centered medical home (PCMH) legislation, and has continued meeting even after Ohio’s PCMH Pilot Program concluded. Since that time, the group has reinvented itself as the OPCPCC Workforce Learning Center. The Learning Center continues to advise the Ohio Department of Higher Education on the primary care component of the Choose Ohio First scholarship program and primary care workforce issues in general.
The Choose Ohio First scholarship program was created by the 128th General Assembly to provide scholarships to medical and advanced practice nursing students committed to practicing primary care in Ohio. Problems have arisen with medical students defaulting on scholarship requirements (which require recipients to practice primary care in Ohio for three years following completion of residency). Attendees heard from officials at the Ohio Department of Higher Education, as well as medical school tuition assistance offices, who are growing more and more hesitant to promote the availability of these scholarships because of the risk the schools incur in making repayment on a defaulting student’s scholarship. The medical school is obligated to repay the state within 90 days of a default but the scholarship recipient has 10 years to pay back the medical school after defaulting on scholarship requirements.
After a lengthy discussion, attendees concluded that it was time to reexamine the Choose Ohio First Primary Care Scholarship to determine if the program is achieving goals and if not, how better could goals be achieved. Furthermore, a work group will explore ways to spread the risk so that the medical schools’ liability is not so great that they fail to offer the program to medical students.
In addition, the Workforce Learning Center learned about the ongoing work of the Ohio Primary Care Physician Workforce Collaborative. The eight-member Collaborative has been meeting monthly to explore and make recommendations to ensure that Ohio has an adequate supply and distribution of primary care physicians who are trained to provide comprehensive, continuous primary care using the Advanced Primary Care model. The Collaborative is meeting with various stakeholder organizations to determine their level of interest in working with the Collaborative to achieve goals. To date, the Collaborative has met with the Governor’s Office of Health Transformation and the Ohio Hospital Association. They will next meet with the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association on Tuesday, September 4.