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$130 million made available for health worker loan repayment

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Behavioral health and primary care workers will be eligible for $130 million in loan repayment, a year after legislators approved funding for the initiative.

According to a release from the Baker administration, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services has contracted with the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers to distribute the funds. The money was allocated from American Rescue Plan Act funding and from the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Trust Fund, which was established with proceeds from settlements with drugmakers that helped fuel the opioid epidemic.

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

Qualifying employees can apply for loan repayment awards ranging from $12,500 to $300,000 per individual.

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The grants are geared to health workers at community health centers, community mental health centers, psychiatric units in acute care hospitals, in-patient psychiatric hospitals or substance use treatment programs. Applicants must meet one of a list of qualifying criteria, including providing clinical care to historically medically underserved patients, working or residing in a community prioritized in the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Initiative, or working in a designated community behavioral health center.

Loans eligible for repayment in this application process include government loans made by federal, state, county or city agencies and commercial loans, and can be from banks, credit unions, savings and loan associations, insurance companies, schools, and other financial or credit institutions. The Baker administration said information about how to apply would be made available by the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers in December.

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Jessica Bartlett can be reached at jessica.bartlett@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByJessBartlett.