State Reimburses Health Providers for Student Loans

Photo courtesy of Alexius Horatius

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services recently awarded $140.9 million in student loan repayments to 2,935 primary care and behavioral health providers through the MA Repay Student Loan Repayment Program.

Launched in 2022 by the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers using funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund, and the state’s FY2024 budget, the program provides educational debt relief for clinicians and patient support staff throughout the state.

The goal is to tackle workforce shortages exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and promote equity in the workforce.

Those participating in the program receive the awards in exchange for agreeing to commitments of four or five years in eligible provider settings, improving workforce retention while making education more affordable for those entering a field of crucial need.

“Talented, diverse individuals far too often cite monetary considerations, such as student loan debt, as a key influencer in their decisions on what healthcare industry to practice and what location. The MA Repay program seeks to break down this barrier that sets limits on healthcare professionals’ careers,” said Michael Curry, President and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.

“By offering statewide support in this way, in exchange for a period of service commitment by these providers, we are creating an opportunity to disrupt systemic inequalities that exist in the current healthcare system and helping to stabilize our safety net workforce at a time of unprecedented shortages.”

Of the 2,935 awardees, 70 percent identity as women, while almost half identify as People of Color and/or are under the age of 35.

Over 900, or about a third of the awardees, are bilingual.

Awards range from $12,500 to $300,000 depending on the worker’s qualifications, work setting, and hour spent working.

Jobs qualifying for awards include social workers, primary care physicians, psychiatrists, nurses, and substance use recovery coaches and case managers at Community Health Centers, psychiatric units, or substance use treatment programs.

In addition to the recent award, another $120.2 million will become available in the coming months to facilitate loan repayment for providers in behavioral and mental healthcare, skilled nursing, and home- and community-based settings.

By, Matthew Tomlinson, NewsCenter

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