H.R. 5102 creates a loan repayment program for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment providers. Specifically, the legislation offers student loan repayment of up to $250,000 for participants who agree to work as a SUD treatment professional in areas most in need of their services. The program is available to a wide range of direct care providers, including physicians, registered nurses, social workers, and other behavioral health professionals. The bill authorizes $25 million a year for the 2019-2028 period.
Serious workforce shortages exist for health professionals and paraprofessionals across the United States. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2012, the turnover rates in the addiction services workforce ranged from 18.5 percent to over 50 percent. In a recent survey, nearly half of clinical directors in agencies specializing in SUD treatment acknowledged that they had difficulty filling open positions, primarily because of a lack of qualified applicants.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 27, 2018.
Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act of 2018
This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to create a loan repayment program for individuals who complete a period of service in a substance use disorder treatment job in a mental health professional shortage area or a county where the drug overdose death rate is higher than the national average.
The substance use disorder treatment job must be a full-time position where the primary intent and function is the direct care of patients with or in recovery from a substance use disorder.
Individuals must enter into an agreement of service of up to six years with the Health Resources and Services Administration. The repayment program shall pay one-sixth of the principal and interest on any eligible loan for each year of service; the maximum total amount of repayment by the program is $250,000 per individual.