PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota faces a shortage of health care professionals in rural counties, and two bills making their way through the House aim to boost numbers of medical workers in these less populated areas.

The House Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved two Gov. Dennis Daugaard-sponsored bills that support his South Dakota Workforce Initiatives, or South Dakota WINS. This program attracts a more educated workforce across the state to the medical field and other industries.

Secretary of Health Doneen Hollingsworth said the bills also help provide care for the state's growing elderly population and replace the current health professionals who will soon retire.

One bill allows doctors or dentists who agree to work at a rural facility for three years to get reimbursed for double the cost of attending the University of South Dakota School of Medicine for four years. Presently, that amount adds up to about $125,000, Hollingsworth said.

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