Minnesota State Loan Repayment Program

Loan Repayment for Primary Care Providers Practicing in Rural and Urban Health Professional Shortage Areas in Minnesota


Current participants:
Forms that must be completed annually are available on the Participant Forms page.

 

Program guidelines (PDF: 100KB/6 pages).

2014 Minnesota State Repayment Program Site List (PDF: 87KB/5 pages).

Application forms for the 2014 application cycle are due August 20, 2014.

Program Purpose

The purpose of Minnesota's State Loan Repayment Program (MN SLRP) is to improve access to primary care by assisting underserved communities with recruitment and retention of primary care providers.

Program Administration and Funding

This program is administered by the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, Minnesota Department of Health.  It is funded by the State of Minnesota and the National Health Service Corps.  Program eligibility requirements and benefits are established by federal law authorizing the State Loan Repayment Program (Section 388I of the Public Health Service Act, as amended by Public Law 101-597 and Public Law 111-148).

Program Benefits

The MN SLRP provides funds for repayment of qualifying educational loans of up to $20,000 annually for full-time primary care providers and up to $10,000 annually for half-time primary care providers. In return for the loan repayment award, participants must complete a two-year service obligation in nonprofit private or public sites located in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Qualifying educational loans are government and commercial loans for actual costs paid for tuition, reasonable education expenses, and reasonable living expenses relating to the graduate or undergraduate education of a primary care provider. Loan repayment awards under this program have been exempted as taxable income under federal and Minnesota state law.

Awards are paid by the State of Minnesota directly to the participant, who must then apply the award immediately to the eligible outstanding debt.

Candidate Applications and Selections

For 2014, approximately five (5) to ten (10) loan repayment awards will be available contingent upon continued funding from the National Health Service Corps and the State of Minnesota. The application deadline is August 20, 2014. Applications must be faxed or postmarked by this date. Candidate applications must be submitted in conjunction with a New Site Application or Site Update Application for full consideration. Awards will be made in October, after federal and state funding has been secured.

Service Requirement

In order to receive loan repayment, a clinician must agree to practice either full-time or part-time as a primary care clinician (see Candidate Eligibility) for a minimum of two years at a program-approved site located within a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). During the second year of service obligation, participants may request extensions for a third and fourth year of loan repayment. Extensions will be granted depending on the availability of state and federal funds and program priorities. Severe financial penalties apply to participants who fail to complete their service obligation as specified in their contractual agreement.

Fulltime clinical practice in the Minnesota SLRP is defined as a minimum of 40 hours per week, for a minimum of 45 weeks each service year. The 40 hours per week may be compressed into no less than four (4) days per week, with no more than 12 hours of work to be performed in any 24‐hour period. Time spent “on call” will not be counted towards the service requirement. See full Program Guidelines for more detail on the definition of full-time practice.

Part‐time clinical practice in the Minnesota SLRP is defined as a minimum of 20 hours per week, for a minimum of 45 weeks each service year. The 20 hours per week may be compressed into no less than two (2) days per week, with no more than 12 hours of work to be performed in any 24‐hour period. Full‐time work done by a half‐time participant will not change the participant’s half‐time status (and will not entitle the clinician to full‐time service credit). Time spent “on call” will not be counted towards the service requirement. See full Program Guidelines for more detail on the definition of practice-time practice.

Financial Penalties for Default

Participants who fail to complete the period of obligated service or fulfill the terms of the Minnesota SLRP award contract will be placed in default. In addition, he/she will be liable to the State of Minnesota for an amount equal to the total award amount paid to the participant plus an unserved-obligation penalty (see below), or $31,000, whichever is greater.

The unserved-obligation penalty is an amount equal to the number of months of obligated service that were not completed by the participant multiplied by $7,500. Total financial penalties should be paid to the State within one (1) year of the date of default. If the participant fails to repay the full amount owed within one (1) year, the State will add interest accruing from the date of the default.  

The State may also release participant information to a consumer credit reporting agency until the amount owed to the State is paid in full. It may also report a defaulted provider to the appropriate health-related licensing board, which may suspend or revoke the participant’s license to practice.

Candidate Eligibility

To be eligible for loan repayment, all applicants must:

  • Be U.S. citizen (either U.S. born or naturalized) or U.S. national.
  • Have a permanent and unrestricted Minnesota state license to practice independently and unsupervised.
  • Be practicing or ready to begin practicing at a program-approved site once the loan repayment contract has been signed.
  • Participate or be eligible to participate as a provider in Medicare, Medicaid and MinnesotaCare, as appropriate.
  • Not have any outstanding obligation for health professional service or other service to the Federal government (e.g., an active military obligation, NHSC Loan Repayment Program obligation, NHSC Scholarship Program obligation or Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program obligation) or to a State or other entity (e.g., a recruitment bonus that obligates you to remain employed at a certain site), unless the obligation would be completed prior to receipt of the MN SLRP award.  See below for an exception for members of a Reserve component of the Armed Forces or National Guard.
  • Not be in breach of a health professional service obligation to the Federal, State or local government.
  • Not be in default on any Federal payment obligations (e.g., Health Education Assistance Loans, Nursing Student Loans, Federal income tax liabilities, Federal Housing Authority loans, etc.) even if the creditor now considers them to be in good standing.
  • Not had any Federal or non-Federal debt written off as uncollectible or received a waiver of any Federal service or payment obligation.
  • Not have any judgment liens arising from Federal debt.
  • Not be excluded, debarred, suspended or disqualified by a Federal agency.

Only one candidate application per site will be accepted. Currently practicing clinicians are eligible, but no credit can be given for service prior to signing a contract with the state. No credit will be given for any practice while the provider is in a professional school or graduate training program.

Military Reserve Exception: Individuals in a Reserve component of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard, are eligible to participate in the MN SLRP. Reservists should understand the following:

  • Military training or service performed by reservists will not satisfy the MN SLRP service commitment. If a participant’s military training and/or service, in combination with the participant’s other absences from the service site, will exceed approximately seven (7) weeks per service year, the participant should request a suspension of his/her MN SLRP service obligation. The MN SLRP service obligation end date will be extended to compensate for the break in MN SLRP service.
  • If the reservist is deployed, following deployment he/she is expected to return to the MN SLRP service site where he/she was serving prior to deployment. If unable to do so, the reservist must complete his/her service obligation at another MN SLRP-approved site.
Eligibility includes the following health professionals with a permanent and unrestricted license to practice independently and unsupervised in the state of Minnesota:
MDs/DOs  Primary Care Doctors of Allopathic or Osteopathic Medicine
DDs General Practice Dentists (D.D.S. or D.M.D.)
NPs Primary Care Certified Nurse Practitioners
CNMs Certified Nurse-Midwives
PAs Primary Care Physician Assistants
DHs Registered Clinical Dental Hygienists
CPs Clinical or Counseling Psychologists (Ph.D. or equivalent)
LICSWs Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers (master’s or doctoral degree in social work)
PNSs Psychiatric Nurse Specialists
LPCCs Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (master’s or doctoral degree with a major study in counseling, licensed to practice independently and unsupervised)
LMFTs Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (master’s or doctoral degree with a major study in marriage and family therapy, LAMFT not eligible)


Primary Care Practice

All participants are expected to practice within the scope of practice for their eligible primary care discipline.

The approvable primary care specialties for physicians include family medicine, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, geriatrics and psychiatry. General practice physicians (physicians who have not completed residency training programs) are not eligible for funding under the MN SLRP.

The approvable primary care specialties for nurse practitioners and physician assistants include adult, family, pediatrics, psychiatry/mental health, geriatrics and women’s health.

The approvable primary care specialties for dentists include family general dentistry, geriatric dentistry and pediatric dentistry.

Site Eligibility and Application

Sites do not need to apply unless a clinician is submitting a Candidate Application. If a site is already listed on the 2014 Minnesota State Loan Repayment Program Site list, it must submit a Site Update Application in conjunction with the Candidate Application. All other sites must submit a NEW Site Application in conjunction with the Candidate Application.

To be eligible to participate in the MN SLRP, all sites must:

  1. Be nonprofit private or public entities (“Nonprofit private entity” is defined in the federal grant guidance as “an entity which may not lawfully hold or use any part of its net earnings to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual and which does not hold or use its net earnings for that purpose.” Since a provider in a solo or group practice presumably uses some or all of the net earnings from that private practice for his/her benefit, such practices do not qualify as a “nonprofit private entity,” and therefore are not eligible to participate in the loan repayment program);
  2. Be located in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA);
  3. Have implemented a sliding-fee discount schedule for uninsured patients based on income status, with discounts started at least 200 percent Federal Poverty Guidelines and a nominal rate (or free) available to patients at 100 percent Federal Poverty Guidelines and below;
  4. Have a written and posted policy that patients will not be denied services due to inability to pay; and
  5. Accept Medicare assignment and have entered into the appropriate agreement with Minnesota Public Insurance Programs.

Types of sites eligible to participate include:

  • Federally Qualified Health Centers  (FQHC’s)
  • FQHC Look-Alikes
  • Rural Health Clinics (with the required policies)
  • State and County Mental Health Hospitals
  • Community Mental Health Centers
  • Mobile Clinical Units
  • Indian Health Service Clinics
  • Tribal Health Clinics
  • State or Federal Correctional Facilities
  • Other Community Outpatient Clinics that provide a full range of primary and preventative health services

Technical Assistance

Approved sites are responsible for recruiting their own providers within these guidelines. The Office of Rural Health and Primary Care can provide a limited amount of technical assistance through its state-funded recruitment and retention program. For technical assistance, site eligibility or a site application contact Debra Jahnke of the Office of Rural Health and Primary Care at (651) 201-3845 or (800) 366-5424 (Minnesota only) or debra.jahnke@state.mn.us.


 

Updated Wednesday, 14-May-2014 12:25:59 CDT