Arizona health department receives $1M to address health care shortages

SEPTEMBER 9, 2018 AT 4:30 AM

PHOENIX — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gave $1 million to the Arizona Department of Health Services to address the shortage of health care providers in the state’s underserved areas, it was announced Friday.

The money was provided through Arizona’s State Loan Repayment Program, which offers to pay educational loans for health care professionals who commit to working for two years in medically underserved areas.

This federal funding increases the loan program’s total annual funding to $2 million and will allow for the hiring of more health care professionals in rural areas and other regions facing shortages.

“Arizona has seen tangible benefits from increased investments in the Student Loan Repayment Program since 2015,” Gov. Doug Ducey said in a news release.

“Now, with the addition of $1 million in available funds, Arizona will be able to further its commitment to better serve rural and underserved communities by increasing in the number of health care providers available in critical areas across the state.”

Since 2015, there has been a 300 percent increase in applications to the loan program, the news release said.

The program is finalizing this year’s award winners and will notify successful applicants soon, with contracts beginning on Oct. 1.

“We have made steady progress on increasing the numbers and types of applicants to the Student Loan Repayment Program,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said in the news release.

“The additional funding will help us provide more awards to address critical needs in our underserved areas caused by health care provider shortages.”

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