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Clackamas doc gets state's help for student loans

Matthew Keegan, a family physician practicing at Clackamas County’s Sunnyside Health and Wellness Center in Clackamas, which serves mostly Oregon Health Plan patients, has spent most of his career working in rural and underserved areas.

by: SUBMITTED - KeeganKeegan, 41, has tried to pay off his student loans for about 10 years, and he’s “hardly put a dent in them.”

Last week, the state announced that Keegan was among five first providers in Oregon’s new Medicaid Primary Care Loan Repayment Program aimed at increasing the number of health professionals serving in rural and underserved areas.

Awardees receive 20 percent of their unpaid student debt, up to $35,000 per year for a minimum of three years, for a full-time participant and a maximum of five years, for a part-time participant. In exchange, participants agree to serve Medicaid and other patients in a qualifying practice site.

“It has been wonderful to see that a lot of the patients who were uninsured now have insurance,” Keegan said. “We’re able do more consistent and more preventive care.”

The education loan repayment program is offering $3.6 million in loan repayments to eligible practitioners. About 35 to 40 additional health care providers are expected to be participants in this program.