(May 24) – Gov. John Hickenlooper signed two bills focusing on veterans and rural Colorado at the Action 22 State of the State today in Pueblo.

SB13-264, sponsored in the House by Reps. Mike McLachlan (D-Durango) and Ed Vigil (D-Fort Garland), will support expanding medical access in rural Colorado by requiring the Commission on Family Medicine to support the development of rural family medicine residency programs. Twenty percent of Colorado’s population lives in rural areas but only nine percent of physicians practice there.

“Representing a rural area, I understand that we need more rural physicians,” Rep. McLachlan said. “This bill will encourage family medicine throughout Colorado, especially in those places, like my district, that need it most.”

Colorado has nine family medicine residency programs that graduate 68 family physicians each year, most of whom stay in Colorado to practice.

“Colorado has a real challenge with retaining and recruiting doctors to rural areas, and this program that trains people here at home has been proven successful to help get those of us in rural Colorado access to more doctors and better health care,” Rep. Vigil said.

SB13-040, also sponsored in the House by Rep. Vigil, expands the Homelake Military Veterans Cemetery. This bill directs the Department of Human Services to develop a phased plan for the cemetery expansion and sets a deadline for the complete expansion of the cemetery by July 1, 2014.

“Our veterans should be granted their last wish to be buried in the Homelake Military Veterans Cemetery in the beautiful San Luis Valley,” Rep. Vigil said. “This bill will increase the capacity for the cemetery, allowing more of our heroes to rest in the place they desire.”

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