MICHIGAN — A new program, made possible by the just-passed new state bipartisan budget, provides up to $200,000 in student loan debt relief for health care providers working in behavioral health services in underserved areas.
The MI Kids Now Loan Repayment Program medical education debt repayment program is now open to providers of services to both children and adults, but the priority will be providing debt relief to those who serve children.
The program is available to behavioral health providers, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, therapists and certified behavioral analysts.
Eligible providers must provide behavioral health services in clinical or public-school based systems located within Health Professional Shortage Areas.
Interested providers and employers can determine if a practice site is located within a Health Professional Shortage Area by entering its address in the federal Health Resource and Services Administration website at “Find Shortage Areas.”
The application cycle opens July 18 and closes on July 29. Further program information, resources, applications and application instructions can be found on the MI Kids Now Loan Repayment Program website.
Interested behavioral health providers are encouraged to review the materials in advance and submit applications when the cycle begins.
The program aims to assist schools and employers in recruiting and retaining behavioral health providers who will continue to demonstrate their commitment to building long-term behavioral health infrastructure in these communities.
The program will provide participants up to $200,000 to repay their educational debt if they participate in the program for eight years, the state says.
Providers who have questions or need more information can contact Reanna Kathawa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Increasing access to behavioral health services for Michigan families and children is a top priority for MDHHS,” said Lindsay McLaughlin, acting director of the department’s Bureau of Children’s Coordinated Health Policy and Supports. “Children need both physical and behavioral health services so that they have the best opportunity to grow up to be healthy and successful adults. Creating the MI Kids Now Repayment Program is one of the ways that MDHHS will address this important need.”
Michigan’s new Fiscal Year 2023 budget, passed by the state’s legislature and signed by Governor Whitmer last week, also contains funding for the construction of a new state psychiatric hospital and a new state public health and environmental laboratory.
The budget includes the $10 million put aside for the student loan reimbursement for behavioral health providers and expands behavioral health capacity at existing facilities.
The budget also attempts to improve access to dental care for those enrolled in Medicaid and boosts reimbursement rates for “critical health services.” The budget is earmarked to speed up lead service line replacement, cleans up contaminated sites and seals 182 abandoned oil and gas wells.