Oregon awards $900,000 in student loan repayment assistance to health care providers

The first round of Health Care Provider Incentive Program loan repayment, totaling $900,000, was recently awarded to 17 medical, dental and behavioral health providers serving rural and underserved communities in Oregon.

The Health Care Provider Incentive Program was established by the Legislature in HB 3261 (2017) to help rural and underserved communities recruit and retain high quality health care providers who serve patients regardless of their source of coverage (Medicaid, Medicare, private, etc.) or ability to pay. Awardees receive funds to repay qualified student loan debt in exchange for a commitment to serve at qualified practice sites in rural or underserved areas of Oregon.

“In Oregon, more than half of our state is designated as having a health professional shortage, covering more than 40 percent of our population,” said Marc Overbeck, OHA’s Primary Care Office director. “These incentives attract more providers to Oregon and help keep providers in the communities that need them the most.”

The first cycle of awardees included: one naturopathic doctor, one doctor of osteopathic medicine, one physician, one licensed professional counselor, one clinical psychologist, two nurse practitioners, two physician assistants, two licensed clinical social workers and six dentists. Of those selected, eight are from the Portland metro area, four from Southwest Oregon, one from the Central Oregon Coast, two from Eastern Oregon and three from the Willamette Valley.

Awards are calculated based on the balance owed on qualifying loans when the professional joins the program. Full-time service providers must commit to a three-year minimum service obligation in exchange for a tax-free award of 50 percent of their qualifying educational loan debt balance, up to $35,000 per obligation year. Part-time service providers must commit to a three-year minimum service obligation in exchange for a tax-free award of 25 percent of their qualifying educational loan debt balance, up to $25,000 per obligation year.

The Health Care Provider Incentive Program is administered by the Oregon Office of Rural Health at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). Loan repayment is one incentive the program offers.

The program will have four more award cycles between now and June 2019. The Office of Rural Health is accepting provider applications for the next review cycle, which closes August 3.

For more information about loan requirements, awards and how to apply for the program, visit the Oregon Office of Rural Health website.

This press release was provided by the Oregon Health Authority.