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ICYMI: NH Bulletin: Hassan works to boost student loan repayment program for addiction treatment workers

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) is pushing to pass her bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and double the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program, which provides student loan repayment for health care workers who focus on addiction treatment and recovery in underserved areas. The bill recently advanced from the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee as part of a package to reauthorize the bipartisan SUPPORT Act – a landmark investment in addiction prevention, treatment, recovery, and law enforcement efforts that Senator Hassan and colleagues worked to pass into law in 2018.

Read more from New Hampshire Bulletin here or below:

New Hampshire Bulletin: Hassan works to boost student loan repayment program for addiction treatment workers

By Hadley Barndollar

Sen. Maggie Hassan is the cosponsor of a bill that would reauthorize and double a student loan repayment program for people who work at addiction treatment facilities in areas with a shortage of mental health professionals.

Under the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Reauthorization Act, staff working at designated facilities, as well as facilities in Belknap, Coos, Hillsborough, and Strafford counties based on the county overdose rates, would be prioritized for loan repayment.

According to data from the Health Resources and Services Administration, facilities and organizations with designated mental health professional shortages in New Hampshire include correctional facilities, community health centers, city shelters and public health departments, and rural health clinics.

Hassan introduced the bill last month with Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska as part of a larger bipartisan effort to reauthorize the SUPPORT Act of 2018. The student loan repayment program was first created by the major substance use, treatment, and recovery legislation, which expired this fall.

On Dec. 12, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation cosponsored by Rep. Annie Kuster that would reauthorize key SUPPORT Act programs. Meanwhile, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee this week advanced its own SUPPORT Act reauthorization bill, containing Hassan’s provisions.

Hassan’s STAR Loan Repayment Reauthorization Act would continue the program, double its funding from $25 million to $50 million, and make loan payments tax exempt. According to Hassan’s office, this would bring it in line with similar efforts such as the National Health Service Corps and the Perkins Loan programs.

In a statement provided to the Bulletin, Hassan said, “My bipartisan measure helps build a robust addiction care workforce by expanding the STAR student loan repayment program for health care workers who provide addiction treatment in rural and underserved areas.”

She continued, “Growing the STAR student loan payment program is a critical way to build the workforce needed to get Granite Staters the care they need and deserve.”

Government estimates from last year showed there is estimated to be a shortage of 24,060 behavioral health providers by 2030.