SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The state of California will pay off $58.6 million in student loans this year for 247 physicians who, in exchange, committed to serve a greater percentage of those covered by Medi-Cal.

The Sacramento Bee reports Friday that those doctors agreed to ensure that Medi-Cal patients represent 30 percent of their caseload for five years.

Medi-Cal patients have long complained that they struggle to find primary care providers willing to accept California's fee schedule because it does not cover the entire cost of care.

More than 13 million California residents get medical coverage through Medi-Cal, and many of them live in areas with a shortage of primary care physicians.

Department of Health Care Services director Jennifer Kent says the program will encourage more providers to care for the Medi-Cal population.

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Information from: The Sacramento Bee, http://www.sacbee.com

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