The Minnesota Health Care Loan Forgiveness Program provides funding for repayment of Qualified Educational Loans to licensed professionals who agree to practice for at least three years in a rural or urban underserved area of Minnesota.
Legislation HF 1310/SF 1677 would expand the current program by $1 million each year—enough to fund an additional six physician and six nurse practitioner or physician assistant spots each year.
Loan Forgiveness: Purpose & Benefits
The loan forgiveness program is designed to help recruit and retain health care professionals in areas of the state where there is a shortage of primary care practitioners and limited access to care for patients.
In Minnesota, we know that family physicians are THE doctors taking care of our rural communities, with family physicians making up more than 50% of physicians practicing in small, rural communities and more than 66% of physicians practicing in isolated areas (2017 Overview of the Physician Workforce, Minnesota Department of Health).
Adequate investment in the primary care workforce and pipeline is critical to ensure all Minnesotans have access to equitable, quality medical care.
The Minnesota Department of Health Office of Rural Health and Primary Care has identified three main ways our state benefits from the loan forgiveness program:
- Rural loan forgiveness recipients are far more likely than non-recipients to practice in smaller communities.
- The loan forgiveness program effectively redistributes the workforce, keeping providers who “grew up rural” in those communities, and encouraging those who “grew up urban” to relocate to rural and small-town communities for their practice.
- Evidence shows that rural loan forgiveness recipients are likely to remain practicing in rural and small towns after their three-year commitment to the program has ended.
Policy makers need to hear from YOU to understand why primary care is so critical in addressing the health care needs of ALL Minnesotans, especially across Greater Minnesota where there is a shortage of health care professionals.
Use our Speak Out Tool to ask Minnesota legislators to support expansion of the loan forgiveness program to address health care workforce shortages in rural Minnesota and make our state a healthier, more equitable place to live.