HB 2143 creates the medical student loan account in the state treasury. Expenditures from the account may only be used for medical student loans to participants in the program established through the legislation and costs associated with program administration of the office of student financial assistance. The office shall administer the program with specified elements, including: a low interest rate; an annual loan limit; schedule for loan repayment; a specified interest rate. The office shall also establish an application, selection and notification process; define the terms of repayment; collect and manage repayments on the loans; solicit and accept grants and donations; exercise discretion to revise repayment obligations in certain cases; publicize the program; and adopt necessary rules. HB 2143 requires the office to submit an annual report to the governor and appropriate committees of the legislature and delineates what needs to be included in the report. Required service obligation for participants must be established.
Higher Ed Committee Substitute Bill:
-Changes the definition of “rural” to “rural and underserved” and defines it as “an area where credentialed health care professionals are in short supply as a result of geographic maldistribution or as the result of a short supply of credentialed health care professionals, and where vacancies exist in serious numbers that jeopardize patient care and pose a threat to the public health and safety, as determined by the Office.”
-Clarifies that an eligible student needs to declare an intention to work as a physician in a rural and underserved area in Washington following residency, not graduation.
-Modifies the program so it is funded exclusively with private funding, except for administrative costs which can be supported with state funding.
-Clarifies the provision about interest rate charges.
-Clarifies that the Student Achievement Council has the authority to solicit and accept grants and donations from non-state public and private sources for the program.
-Makes technical corrections to the Medical Student Loan Account language.
-Adds provisions to the annual reporting requirements to include the percentage of the participant’s patients that are served by Medicaid and other similar programs, and the amount of private funding collected for the program. Washington State Opportunity Scholarship Provisions:
-Clarifies that the purpose of the advanced degree scholarships is to increase the number of health professions needed in service obligation areas.
-Adds that to be eligible for the scholarship the student needs to agree to a service obligation established by the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) Board.
-Modifies the definition of “advanced degree” to “eligible advanced degree program.”
-Modifies the definition of “service obligation” by removing “health professional shortage area” and replacing it with “service obligation area.”
-Removes the definition of “health professional shortage area” and replaces it with a definition for “service obligation area,” which is defined to mean “a location that meets one of the following conditions: (a) Has been designated by the Council as an eligible site under the health professional conditional scholarship program established in chapter 28B.115 RCW; (b) Serves at least 40 percent uninsured or Medicaid enrolled patients; (c) Is located in a rural county as defined by RCW 82.14.370 and serves a combination of uninsured, Medicaid enrolled patients, and Medicare enrolled patients, equal to at least 40 percent of the practice location’s total patients; or (d) Serves a public agency, nonprofit organization, or local health jurisdiction as defined in RCW 43.70.575 by providing public health services necessary to preserve, protect, and promote the health of the state’s population, as determined by the board after consultation with the Department of Health.”
-Removes the changes to the definition of “program administrator.”
-Clarifies that the WSOS Board shall determine the eligible advanced degree programs that qualify for a scholarship, and in doing so, the WSOS Board shall consider programs that lead to credentials in health professions that include primary care, dental care, behavioral health, and public health.
-Adds a reporting requirement for the WSOS Board to report to the Governor and Legislature on the eligible advanced degree programs and the participants.
-Requires the WSOS program administrator to establish a process for verifying a participant’s employment in a service obligation area.
-Requires the WSOS program administrator to establish a repayment obligation and appeals process for participants who serve less than the required service obligation, including options for payment arrangements.
Adopted Amendments in the Appropriations Committee:
Changes the definition of “rural and underserved area” to “rural underserved area” means a rural county as defined in RCW 82.14.370 that is also designated by the health resources and services administration as a medically underserved area or having a medically underserved population.
Senate Ways & Means Amendment:
Makes a correction to the eligibility requirements for the opportunity scholarship.