Health care workforce loan repayment program
Section 25N. (a) There shall be a health care workforce loan repayment program, administered by the health care workforce center established by section 25L. The program shall provide repayment assistance for graduate and medical school loans to participants who: (1) are graduates of medical, nursing, or physician assistant schools or accredited graduate schools; (2) specialize in family health or medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, psychiatry, behavioral health, mental health or substance use disorder treatment; (3) demonstrate competency in health information technology, at least equivalent to federal meaningful use standards as set forth in 45 C.F.R. Part 170, including use of electronic medical records, computerized physician order entry and e-prescribing; and (4) meet other eligibility criteria, including service requirements, established by the board.
Each recipient shall be required to enter into a contract with the commonwealth which shall obligate the recipient to perform a term of service of not less than 2 years in medically underserved areas as determined by the center.
(b) The center shall promulgate regulations for the administration and enforcement of this section which shall include penalties and repayment procedures if a participant fails to comply with the service contract.
The center shall, in consultation with the health care workforce advisory council and the public health council, establish criteria to identify medically underserved areas within the commonwealth. These criteria shall consist of quantifiable measures, which may include the availability of primary care medical services or behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health services within reasonable traveling distance, poverty levels and disparities in health care access or health outcomes.
(c) The center shall evaluate the program annually, including exit interviews of participants to determine their post-program service plans and to solicit program improvement recommendations.
(d) The center shall file an annual report, not later than July 1, with the governor, the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate, the house and senate committees on ways and means, the joint committee on health care financing, the joint committee on mental health and substance abuse and the joint committee on public health. The report shall include annual data and historical trends of: (1) the number of applicants, the number accepted and the number of participants by race, gender, medical, nursing, physician assistant, behavioral health, substance use, and mental health specialty, graduate, physician assistant, medical or nursing school, residence prior to graduate, medical, nursing, or physician assistant school and where they plan to practice after program completion; (2) the service placement locations and length of service commitments by participants; (3) the number of participants who fail to fulfill the program requirements and the reason for the failures; (4) the number of former participants who continue to serve in underserved areas; and (5) program expenditures.