We made progress this week on one of our key Arizona Health Improvement Plan (AzHIP) objectives: To improve access to well care in underserved areas of Arizona. This week the Governor signed Senate Bill 1194 which enhances our State Loan Repayment Program by expanding the types of providers who can receive loan repayment assistance, increasing the award amounts for the initial and succeeding commitment years, and removing the 4-year service cap.
When the law becomes effective this summer, mental health providers, pharmacists and geriatrics will be added to the list of eligible providers joining the currently eligible primary care physicians, dentists, and advanced practice providers like nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurse midwives. The new law makes up to $65,000 available (for a 2-year commitment) for physicians and dentists (a $40,000 increase). Advanced practice providers can qualify for up to $50,000 (up from $15,000). The incentives even get better as providers stay longer in the program. For each year of continued service in the underserved area after the first two years, physicians and dentists can receive up to $35,000 from $25,000.
We expect the improved funding and eligibility structure to increase access to primary care in underserved communities by bringing in more providers and retaining those that are already serving while helping put a significant dent on their student loan debt. More information about the State Loan Repayment Program is available on our website or by contacting Ana Roscetti.