Federal Program To Help Addiction Treatment Providers With Student Loans

By Beth Leipholtz 01/16/19

The goal of the new federal program is to strengthen the workforce in the field of addiction treatment. 

addiction treatment provider helping a patient

If you work in the substance use treatment field in an underserved area, you may be eligible for student loan aid, thanks to a new federal program. 

The program, according to MassLive, was launched Dec. 27 and will help health care clinicians repay up to $75,000 in student loans. For the first year, it has been funded with $75 million and officials hope to help repay loans for 1,100 clinicians.

Israil Ali is the director of the Division of National Health Service Corps, which is an entity of the US Department of Health and Human Services agency that is overseeing the loan payment program. He says the overall idea of the program is to strengthen the workforce in the field of treatment. 

“The goal is to ensure that sites that provide evidence-based care have the workforce to deliver care,” Ali said, according to MassLive.

For those working in the substance use treatment field in areas considered underserved, the agency will pay up to $75,000 as long as the individual commits to working for three years in an underserved area.

Boston Health Care for the Homeless doctor Gabriel Wishik began working at his facility through the repayment program and tells MassLive that such a program helps to bring in qualified candidates and increases the overall number of professionals in the field. 

According to MassLive, it’s difficult for those with substance use disorder to find available treatment. This program will not aid in the issue of low treatment reimbursement rates, which can make it difficult for facilities to stay profitable. And, according to Wishik, “there is a shortage at every single level in the treatment continuum.”

However, Wishik adds that programs such as this could prove helpful in leading people into the career field. 

“There are lots of competing career paths,” he adds. “It’s one way to get people into this career.”

The new program is similar to that of another offered by the agency, in which doctors in underserved areas can also have loan repayment. There is also a program for part-time workers, and in addition to doctors it is also open to nurses, pharmacists and substance use disorder counselors.

In Massachusetts specifically, there are 89 substance use treatment facilities where employees could potentially benefit from the program. According to MassLive, these include Spectrum Health Systems’ treatment centers in Worcester and North Adams, the opioid treatment center at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke, and additional programs run by Baystate and by the Springfield Public Health Department. 

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at www.lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.