L.A. Care, a health insurance plan for Los Angeles County’s neediest residents, has dedicated $2 million to provide student loan debt relief to 14 physicians who are working within the county to provide care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.

“Nearly 90% of medical school graduates have some student loan debt, and the average amount owed is more than $241,000,’’ John Baackes, chief executive officer of L.A. Care, said in a statement.

“That has contributed to the shortage of primary care physicians in underserved communities,’’ he said. “L.A. Care is committed to ensuring its members, many of whom are low-income people of color, have access to high quality physicians.’’

The commitment is the sixth round of loan repayment program grants in L.A. Care’s $155 million Elevating the Safety Net initiative, which launched in 2018 to recruit, train and retain highly-qualified primary care physicians within the L.A. County safety net.

Among the grantees in this round is Dr. Jeanne Delgado, a pediatrician working at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

“The sense of service, enjoyment, and humility that comes with choosing to practice primary care for low-income families is priceless,’’ Delgado said. “We know that their care deserves to be valued, and I am so thankful that L.A. Care, in turn, sees that value in us.’’

Dr. Grace Nguyen, a pediatrician working at Tri-State Community Healthcare Clinic in Pomona, said she is “relieved knowing that I can focus on providing comprehensive medical care to vulnerable children without worrying about the student loan burden I had accumulated.’’

Since the launch of Elevating the Safety Net, L.A. Care, with the help of Uncommon Good, a nonprofit that helps identify the appropriate grantees, has awarded nearly $26 million in loan repayment grants in support of 158 physicians, according to the health plan which serves more than 2.7 million members in Los Angeles County.

Our Weekly coverage of local news in Los Angeles County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.

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