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Georgia budget includes $50M for standalone UGA medical school

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(The Center Square) — The state budget lawmakers are weighing includes $50 million for a standalone medical school for the University of Georgia.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, teased the funding earlier this month at the Georgia Chamber’s Annual Eggs and Issues legislative event.

“This will go a long way to helping us address the medical workforce gap Georgia has struggled with for years,” he said, according to prepared remarks.

During a joint Appropriations Committee hearing last week, University System of Georgia Chancellor Sonny Perdue said the medical school is “desperately needed.”

“We’ve had a partnership there with [Augusta’s Medical College of Georgia] for about 12 years now,” Perdue told the committee. “This is an authorization for the University of Georgia to pursue independent accreditation through the [Liaison Committee on Medical Education] licensing board for medical education as an independent medical college.

“I think you understand the physician gap we have in Georgia,” Perdue added. “UGA would be expected to raise private dollars to support the total costs of a facility. And why is there a need for that? I think we all know … Georgia ranks dead last in the number of medical students per 100,000 population. That is 41 out of 41 states with public medical schools, and that’s not a ranking that we want to lead.”

Unsurprisingly, Athens-area lawmakers lauded the news.

This “news is a monumental step forward for our community,” state Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Athens, said in a statement. “I look forward to supporting the $50 million of funding for the new UGA medical school in this year’s legislative session as we work to ensure Georgia leads the country in medical education and training for our next generation of physicians.”

“This development holds great promise as it will play a pivotal role in training a new generation of young physicians in Georgia, addressing our state’s current medical workforce deficit and securing a healthier future for all,” state Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Athens, said in a column.

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