Health care law increases access to primary care through the National Health Service Corps (10/11/2012) press release
For 40 years, the National Health Service Corps, administered by the Health Resources and Service Administration, has helped to build healthy communities by supporting qualified health care providers dedicated to working in areas of the United States with limited access to care.
Across the country, over 10.4 million people are currently receiving health care from National Health Service Corps (NHSC) clinicians. The NHSC repays educational loans and provides scholarships to primary care health care providers who practice in areas of the country that have too few health care professionals to serve people who live there. As of September 30, 2012, nearly 10,000 primary care physicians, physician assistants, dentists, dental hygienists, nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, and behavioral health professionals are working in these areas.
As a result of historic investments by the Obama Administration the numbers of clinicians in the National Health Service Corps are at all-time highs, nearly tripling from 3,600 in 2008 to nearly 10,000 in 2012.
In addition to National Health Service Corps clinicians currently providing health care, the Corps also invests in the training of the next generation of providers through scholarships and the Students to Service Loan Repayment program. There are currently more than 1,000 students, residents, and health providers preparing to go into practice who are receiving support from these programs. These future primary care providers will serve in communities where they are needed most.
In FY 2012, the National Health Service Corps made nearly 4,600 loan repayment and scholarship awards totaling $229.4 million in funding from the Affordable Care Act. These loan repayment and scholarship awards were made through the following programs:
The NHSC Loan Repayment Program – 4,267 awards (2,342 new and 1,925 continuation contracts) totaling $169 million. The loan repayment program provides an initial, tax-free award of up to $60‚000 for two years of service in an underserved community and the opportunity to pay off all health professional student loans with continued service.
The NHSC Scholarship Program – 222 awards (212 new and 10 continuation contracts) totaling $42 million. The scholarship program pays tuition, required fees, and other education costs for as many as four years. Upon graduation, scholarship recipients serve as primary care providers between two and four years at an NHSC-approved site in a high-need Health Professional Shortage Area.
The NHSC Students to Service (S2S) Loan Repayment Program – 69 awards totaling $8 million. Available to fourth year medical students, the S2S program provides a tax-free award of up to $120,000 with 3 years of full-time or 6 years of half-time service in an underserved community. With continued service, eligible providers may be able to pay off all qualifying student loans.
The State Loan Repayment Program – 32 grants to states totaling $9.8 million. The State Loan Repayment Program provides grants to states to operate their own loan repayment programs. Similar to the NHSC Loan Repayment Program, participants in the state programs provide primary health services in Health Professional Shortage Areas in exchange for repayment of their qualifying educational loans. States are required to match federal grant funds dollar-for-dollar with non-federal funds.