FILE - Chriopractor

The state House has signed off on a bill that would repay outstanding chiropractic school debt for doctors who agree to serve in areas where there is a shortage of chiropractors.

The House voted 95-1 in favor of Substitute House Bill 151, known as the Chiropractic Loan Repayment Program. The measure now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

In exchange for help repaying loans, chiropractors agree to serve in a “designated chiropractic health resource shortage area” for a least two years, and they agree to “see patients regardless of their ability to pay,” according to a column from Rep. Scott Oelslager, R-North Canton.

“I believe that Chiropractic care is one of the most effective, safest, and yet underutilized assets in healthcare,” Rep. Rick Carfagna, R- Genoa Township, said in a news release. “I applaud those in the Chiropractic profession who have shown that they are prepared to step up and grow their own ranks through the self-funding of this program.”

The bill would create the Chiropractic Loan Repayment Fund, and $25 from every biennial chiropractic license renewal fee would go to the fund. The Ohio Department of Health will repay loans, and state officials expect the fund to bring in $62,500 each even-numbered year.

Under the bill, recipients are eligible for up to $10,000 annually for repayment of outstanding chiropractic school debt. In addition to the maximum annual reimbursement of $10,000, the bill also stipulates the total repayment may not exceed $30,000.

There are more than 2,500 licensed chiropractors in Ohio.

The bill also establishes a delineation between chiropractors who are certified to practice on animals and licensed veterinarians. It allows animal chiropractors to practice animal chiropractic without supervision from a licensed veterinarian, but it requires them to register with the State Chiropractic Board.

“We had numerous meetings and language exchanges between the Ohio State Chiropractic Association, the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association, and their respective boards,” Carfagna said. “I am thrilled that we were able to narrowly define this unique practice, establish guardrails that will not compromise the health and safety of animals, and, in the event of any violations, outline clear processes to hold practitioners accountable.”

The state approved a similar measure for public defenders. The House approved House Bill 5, the Public Defender State Loan Repayment Program, which would allocate $3 million over two years to fund a program aimed at attracting more public defenders throughout Ohio.