- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Two state legislators from Spokane will propose bills to create a new medical school in Spokane under the control of Washington State University.

State Rep. Marcus Riccelli, a Democrat, and state Sen. Mike Baumgartner, a Republican, will unveil legislation Tuesday to change a 1917 law that limits medical education to the University of Washington.

Their bills would also provide about $2.5 million for Washington State to establish a school that concentrates on family and rural medicine.

Baumgartner is vice chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and Riccelli is vice chairman of the House Health Care Committee.

Washington State has announced plans to start a new medical school in Spokane, saying the state suffers from a shortage of physicians. The University of Washington says its programs should be expanded.

Meanwhile, Gonzaga University on Monday announced it will explore joining with the University of Washington to provide medical education in Spokane.

The UW has proposed the partnership to continue its existing medical education programs in Spokane under the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) program. WWAMI provides medical education for students in the five states.

Until it decided to pursue its own medical school, Washington State partnered with UW in providing medical education in Spokane under WWAMI.

“We at Gonzaga, together with many other community members, have actively supported expansion of WWAMI medical education - and the promise of economic growth stimulated by research - in Spokane,” said President Thayne McCulloh of the private, Jesuit university.

“Gonzaga not only has a national reputation for academic excellence, but also a deep commitment to the economic and social well-being of the Spokane community and the region,” UW President Michael Young said.

Gonzaga and UW said in coming weeks they will talk with civic leaders and members of the business and education communities in evaluating a potential partnership.

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