THE PROGRAM’S GOAL IS TO ASSIST COMMUNITIES IN RECRUITING HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WILLING TO PRACTICE FULL-TIME OR HALF-TIME IN FEDERAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL SHORTAGE AREAS (HPSA).
Program funds are used to repay educational loans of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives, dentists and psychiatrists who agree to serve full-time or half-time in federally designated health professional shortage areas (HPSA) in Illinois without regard for their ability to pay.
Providers will be able to work less than full-time, but at a minimum of half-time, if they agree to extend their obligation period twofold.
Program applicants must be:
- Be licensed in Illinois as a primary care physician (residency trained or board eligible osteopathic or allopathic physicians trained in family practice, general internal medicine, general pediatrics, internal medicine pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology; nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives; dentists or psychiatrists), or expect to be licensed in Illinois and who is willing to practice at public or nonprofit, private entities providing primary healthcare services in a federally designated HPSA in Illinois;
- Sign a contract with the Illinois Department of Public Health guaranteeing their minimum commitment of two years of service in a HPSA;
- Be indebted to a governmental or commercial lending institution for educational expenses incurred in pursuit of the applicant’s degrees or diploma; and
- Be a U.S. citizen.
WHAT IS THE AMOUNT OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE?
For the Minimum Two Years full-time Service: Up to $25,000 annually. However, if the total amount of the applicant’s qualified educational loans is less than $50,000, one-half of the total qualified educational loan amounts will be received annually.
|Maximum Repayment Amount:||Up to $50,000|
|Site Contribution:||Up to $12,500 per year for two years|
Applicants must enter into a minimum two year contract. A third year and a fourth year can be added individually upon completion of the initial two-year obligation.
Every participant is required to engage in the full-time or half-time clinical practice of the profession for which the participant was awarded a loan repayment contract. Full-time clinical practice is defined as a minimum of 40 hours per week. For physicians, the practice will include ambulatory care, as well as hospital care appropriate to meet the needs of patients and to assure continuity of care.
For all health professionals, except obstetrician/gynecologist physicians and certified nurse midwives, at least 32 minimum of 40 hours per week must be spent providing clinical services. These services must be conducted during normally scheduled clinic hours in the ambulatory care setting office(s) specified in the contract. The remaining hours must be spent providing inpatient care to patients of the clinic and/or in practice-related administrative activities.
For OB/GYN physicians and certified nurse midwives, at least 21 of the minimum 40 hours per week must be spent providing clinical services. These services must be conducted during normally scheduled clinic hours in the ambulatory care setting office(s) specified in the contract.
The remaining hours must be spent providing inpatient care to patients of the clinic or performing practice-related administrative activities, with administrative activities not to exceed eight hours per week.
The 40 hours per week may be compressed into no less than four days per week, with no more than 12 hours of work to be performed in any 24-hour period. Time spent in “on-call” status will not count toward the 40-hour week. Hours worked over the required 40 hours per week will not be applied to any other work week.
A half-time clinical practice is defined as a minimum of 20 hours per week in an office-based setting. The practice will include hospital coverage appropriate to the needs of patients and to ensure continuity of care. For all health professionals except obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYN) and certified nurse midwives (CNM), at least 16 of the minimum 20 hours per week must be devoted to providing clinical services in the ambulatory setting at the approved practice site, during normally scheduled office hours. For an OB/GYN or CNM, the majority of the 20 hours per week (not less than 10.5 hours per week) must be devoted to providing ambulatory care services during normally scheduled office hours. Of the remaining 9.5 hours, no more than 4 hours may be spent on administrative activities.
The 20 hours per week may be compressed into no less than 4 days per week with no more than 12 hours of regularly scheduled work to be performed in any 24-hour period.
No more than seven weeks (35 work days) per year can be spent away from the practice for vacation, holidays, continuing professional education, illness or any other reason. Absences greater than seven weeks in a service year will extend the service commitment end date.
Each loan repayment participant must complete and submit to the department a verification form for each quarter of service. The form, which is signed by the participant and by an appropriate official at the practice site, will verify the participant’s compliance/noncompliance with the full-time clinical practice requirement during that quarter.
The form will also record the participant’s time spent away from the practice site during that quarter. Continued receipt of loan repayment benefits will be contingent on a participant’s timely submission of the quarter verifications forms.
All loan repayments paid to the participant must be used by the participant to repay the approved qualifying educational loans. Documentation of those payments must be sent to the department on an annual basis.
HOW WILL PAYMENTS BE MADE?
The Department will pay recipients one half of the total amount while the other half comes from the site. Recipients will be responsible for payments to the financial institutions holding their educational loans.
WHAT ARE THE REPAYMENT OBLIGATIONS?
Program participants who, for any reason, fail to begin or complete the required period of obligated service shall be liable to the Department for an amount equal to the number of months of obligated service not completed multiplied by $7,500 and interest on the above amounts at the maximum legal prevailing rate, as determined by the Treasurer of the United States from the date of breach. Except that the amount the Department is entitled to recover will not be less than $31,000.
Any amount the Department is entitled to recover shall be paid within one year of the date the Director determines that the applicant is in breach of the written contract. Failure to pay the Department by the due date has the following consequences:
- The debt will be reported to credit reporting agencies. Any loan repayment debt more than 60 days past due shall be reported to all appropriate credit reporting agencies.
- The debt will be referred to a debt collection agency and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. Any loan repayment debt past due for three months shall be referred to a debt agency. If the debt collection agency is unsuccessful in receiving payment in full, the debt will be referred to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office for enforced collection.
- State payments due to the grantee (e.g. state income tax refund) may be offset by the Illinois Department of Revenue to repay a delinquent loan repayment debt.
HOW IS APPLICATION MADE?
Applications are available from IDPH’s Center for Rural Health and completed applications should be sent to:
Center for Rural Health
Illinois Department of Public Health
535 W. Jefferson St.
Springfield, IL 62761