State Announces $130 Million Loan-repayment Program for Healthcare Workers

BOSTON — Last week, the Baker-Polito administration announced a significant step in addressing the healthcare workforce shortage by contracting with the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers to implement a $130 million loan-repayment program to support and retain the behavioral-health and primary-care workforce. Funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Trust Fund.

Applications will be open in December to qualifying employees, including but not limited to social workers, primary-care physicians, psychiatrists, nurses, substance-use recovery coaches, and case managers who work at community health centers, community mental-health centers, psychiatric units in acute -care hospitals, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, or substance-use treatment programs. Loans eligible for repayment in this application process include government loans made by federal, state, county or city agencies and commercial loans from banks, credit unions, savings and loan associations, insurance companies, schools, and other financial or credit institutions.

“The pandemic has exacerbated workforce shortages across the healthcare and human-services sector in both the public and private markets, placing significant stress on our healthcare providers, their staff, and our Massachusetts residents seeking care,” Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said. “Through this program, we are providing tangible support to sustain them in this high-demand work.”

Loan-repayment awards will range between $12,500 and $300,000 per individual depending on their occupation, job setting, academic degree level attained, and whether the individual works part-time or full-time.

Applicants will be prioritized to receive an award if they meet one of the following criteria:

• The applicant can communicate with patients and provide care in a language other than English, and that skill matches the needs of the location where the applicant works;

• The applicant has demonstrated a commitment to providing clinical care to historically medically underserved patients;

• The applicant works or resides in a community prioritized in the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Initiative: Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Springfield, or Worcester; or

• The applicant works in a designated community behavioral-health center.

Information about how to apply will be made available by the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers in December.