Thursday, October 1, 2009

Secretary Sebelius Releases $7.6 Million in Recovery Act Funds to Support Health Professionals Serving in High Need Areas

The grant awarded to Georgia under this announcement was to State Medical Education Board of Georgia.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday announced 63 awards totaling more than $7.6 million to help states recruit new health care clinicians and alleviate their debt burden. The funds are part of the $500 million appropriated to HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to address workforce shortages and encourage diversity in the health professions.

“These funds will help place full-time primary care health professionals in shortage areas and help hundreds of thousands of Americans get primary care they might not otherwise receive,” said Secretary Sebelius.

Eighteen grantees will receive $5.8 million under the State Loan Repayment Program, which provides grants to states to fund loan repayment programs designed to increase the availability of primary health service providers in health professional shortage areas in the state. Health professionals receiving these funds incur a minimum two-year service obligation, but in some cases elect to serve longer. In return for their service in shortage areas, the state repays their qualifying loans. States must provide a dollar-for-dollar match in funding.

In addition, 45 grantees will receive $1.8 million under the State Primary Care Office program to help recruit new National Health Service Corps (NHSC) clinicians. On June 5, Secretary Sebelius announced the availability of $200 million in ARRA workforce funds, of a total $300 million, to expand HRSA’s National Health Service Corps, which provides scholarships and loan repayment for primary care providers who serve in health professional shortage areas. The funds will repay the qualifying student loans of primary care medical dental and mental health clinicians who wish to practice, for a minimum of two years, in NHSC sites that treat underserved and uninsured people.

“Recruiting and training health professionals to serve in shortage areas is critical as we work to provide quality health care to more and more people in need,” said HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N.

Yesterday’s awards follow a Sept. 11 announcement by Secretary Sebelius of $33 million in Recovery Act funds to train a variety of health professionals. Also, on Aug. 12, HHS Deputy Secretary Bill Corr announced awards of $13.4 million in Recovery Act funds for loan repayments to nurses who agree to practice in facilities with critical shortages and for schools of nursing to provide loans to students who will become nurse faculty.

HRSA also received $2 billion through the ARRA to expand health care services to low-income and uninsured individuals through its health center program. To date, more than $1.4 billion of these funds have been awarded to community-based organizations across the country. HRSA-supported health centers treated 17 million patients in 2008, 40 percent of whom have no health insurance.

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