On Tuesday, February 24th, Governor Ducey signed legislation which is focused on increasing the number of primary care providers in areas of the state where there is a demonstrated need for healthcare services. Fully licensed primary care providers can apply for the State Loan Repayment Program which provides loan repayment assistance to qualifying student loans in exchange for service in designated areas.
The program, which is administered by the Arizona Department of Health Services, will now aim to not only expand the recruiting field but will help retain primary health care professionals in Arizona. SB1194 expands the eligibility of health care professionals to include behavioral health practitioners, geriatrics, and pharmacists as Arizona has identified the need for approximately 442 full-time primary care physicians, 441 dentists, and 204 full-time psychiatrists. In the past only Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, OB/GYN and Pediatrics were accepted, along with Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse Midwives, Physician Assistants and Dentists qualified.
Additionally, higher funding levels will be given to rural providers and maximum award amounts will be increased. The four year cap will be removed and qualified service providers will be able to participate in the program as long as they have qualifying loans.