| 03.18.2018

WWAMI seats in sight for UI

Senate Bill 1183, which would add five new seats for Idaho to the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho medical program is scheduled to be presented to the Idaho Senate today.

Earlier in the 2013 Session, University of Idaho President M. Duane Nellis presented his annual budget to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.

“WWAMI is a visionary and cost-effective program that provides training for Idaho students seeking to become medical doctors,” Nellis said at the JFAC meeting in January. “Together with the internationally ranked University of Washington School of Medicine, our faculty oversee medical education within the state of Idaho.”

Nellis said Idaho has the lowest number of positions, per capita, than any other state in the nation. He said the WWAMI program brings more physicians to Idaho. Nellis said every county in Idaho has at least one WWAMI trained physician.

According to the University of Washington, the WWAMI program aims to do five things. It provides publicly supported medical education, increases the number of physicians and correct the maldistribution of physicians, provides a community-based medical education, expands graduate medical education and continues education and provides these goals in a cost-effective manner.

The appropriation includes $11.5 million to the Idaho State Board of Education and the Board of Regents of UI. An increase of $8,200 for benefit costs, $144,900 for medical contract inflation and $59,100 in replacement items, for a total of $212,000, are included in the appropriation.

Four line items are included in the bill, providing funding for five additional seats, funding for the internal medicine residency program and base funding increases in the family medicine psychiatry residency programs.

The sponsor of the bill, Moscow Sen. Dan Schmidt is also a physician who graduated from the WWAMI program. He said the WWAMI program, University of Washington and the residency programs in the Northwest are good at training doctors to serve in Idaho.

“I’m supporting it because the WWAMI program actually has been very good for Idaho in terms of bringing primary care doctors back to Idaho,” Schmidt said. “I believe primary care doctors keep health care costs low. We need well trained, broadened trained primary care docs in this state that serves both rural and urban and as well as frontier areas.”

The bill has an increase of 5.4 percent, or $592,000 from the original FY 2013 appropriation of $10,925,200.

Emily Johnson can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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