By Keele Smith
Legislative News Service
University of Montana School of Journalism
On Tuesday, Montana’s House of Representatives advanced a bill that would send more Montanans to medical school through an exchange program.
The so called WWAMI program helps students in the northwestern states attend medical school at the University of Washington.
House Bill 623 would provide for 10 more slots but would require students to work in Montana for four years after graduation.
Republican sponsor Liz Bangerter of Helena says WWAMI slots are critical to Montana’s future.
“We have to have Montanans going to medical school with the desire to come back to Montana and work in Montana.”
But Democratic Rep. Tom Woods of Bozeman says requiring students to come back and work in Montana is not fair.
“Physicians are paid a heck of a lot more in other states than they are here in Montana.”
The bill advanced in the House 60-40.