Frequently Asked Questions
Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program (OPLRP); Bureau of Health Professions State Loan Repayment Program (BHPr SLRP)
UPDATE - The application deadline for the Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program has been extended. Applications must be postmarked by Feb. 1, 2013. Please visit the Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program Web page for more information.
1. What is the purpose of loan repayment programs?
These programs were created to assist communities in underserved areas that are seeking clinicians to provide primary care, dental and/or mental health services. In addition, the programs aid primary care clinicians, mental health providers and dental professionals who are dedicated to working with the medically underserved in Ohio’s Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Eligible clinicians may apply for loan repayment if they choose employment at an eligible site in one of the qualified areas.
2. Where are Health Professional Shortage Areas?
Ohio has many Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) in rural and urban areas. All quadrants of the state include HPSAs. To determine if an area (county, group of census tracts, special population or facility) is a HPSA, go to http://hpsafind.hrsa.gov/.
3. Who is eligible to apply for the OPLRP?
Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program applicants must either be in current practice or in the final year of training at the time of application. If an applicant has an existing obligation to a government or other entity, the obligation must be met prior to beginning a loan repayment contract. In addition, the physician must work full time, defined as 40 hours per week, at an approved practice site.
Allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) physicians specializing in family medicine, general pediatrics, adolescent medicine, general internal medicine, internal medicine/pediatrics, geriatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, general psychiatry, child/adolescent psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry are considered primary care physicians.
4. Are practice sites required to meet other specific criteria?
Yes. All loan repayment programs require sites to accept Medicaid, assignment for Medicare and serve all patients regardless of ability to pay. Other requirements may apply, depending on the program. For example, the BHPr SLRP requires sites to be nonprofit and use a sliding fee scale for patients in households at or below 200 percent of the current federal poverty level.
Sites must assure that those selected for loan repayment work full time, defined as a minimum of 40 hours per week, at the site. For primary care physicians, up to eight hours can be spent for hospitalization coverage and practice administration. OB-GYNs are allowed additional hospital hours.
5. What are the loan repayment benefits?
Selected applicants may receive up to $25,000 per year for an initial two-year contract. Those retaining eligibility and wishing to continue with the program may receive up to $35,000 in years three and four. Payments are exempt from federal taxes.
6. How long is the commitment?
The first contract is for two years. Those continuing in their practice, and who meet contractual obligations, may renew the contracts for up to two additional one-year terms. Thus, the minimum commitment is for two years and the maximum participation is four years.
7. What happens if I receive loan repayment but then change my mind or relocate before the contract is up?
A failure to complete the terms of the contract results in the clinician reimbursing the State of Ohio a sum equal to $7,500 for each month remaining in the length of the contract, plus interest, or other amount as stipulated in the contract.
If a participant in OPLRP must leave the practice site due to unavoidable and unforeseen circumstances, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) will work with the physician to find a similar practice site. Physicians in OPLRP may not initiate transfers without the expressed approval of their existing site and ODH.
8. How are the loan payments made?
Payments are made directly to the holders of the loan(s) in the amounts requested by the participant, up to the maximum amount stated in the contract. Participants submit invoices to ODH to initiate payments.
9. When are payments made?
The first payment is usually made within the third or fourth month of the contract. Subsequent payment is made approximately one year later.
10. Are there other obligations by the clinician or the site?
Six-month reports, providing the number of patients and patient visits by payer type (Private Insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, Sliding Fee Scale Discount, Self Pay Full Fee, No Payment, and Other), are required. Numbers are reported for the site and for the participating physician.
11. What forms must be completed as part of the application process?
The complete application consists of the following five forms provided by ODH in the application packet, which is available by visiting /en/odhprograms/chss/pcrh_programs/recruitment/slrp.aspx:
1. Application (3 pages)
2. Practice site (1 page)
3. Loan information (1 page)
4. W-9 (first page only, to be signed in blue ink - submit 2)
5. Vendor information form
In addition, the applicant must include:
- A current resume or CV
- A copy of one's Ohio medical license
- Background and biographical statements
- A statement from each lender showing the loan balance, account number and lender’s address
- A letter from the applicant authorizing the lenders to release financial information to the ODH
- A copy of the practice site’s sliding fee scale, policy and waiting room/lobby sign, if applicable
- The applicant’s job description
- A copy of the applicant’s employment contract
12. When are the applications due?
During years when new awards are made, applications and all required attachments must typically be received or postmarked on or before Jan. 15. However, please note that the 2013 application deadline has been extended. All applications must be postmarked by Feb. 1, 2013. Faxed applications will not be accepted.
13. When are the applicants notified?
Selected applicants are informed during the following spring, usually in April or May. Those not receiving loan repayment are informed after all decisions about funding have been made and the selected applicants have the opportunity to accept or decline the contract.
14. Is an applicant who currently receives loan repayment from the National Health Service Corps eligible to apply?
Applicants must have no current commitments to the National Health Service Corps or certain other federal loan programs at the time the state’s loan repayment contract would begin, if selected. Applicants may apply to both programs, but cannot accept contract offers of loan repayment from both programs.
15. Where are completed applications sent?
Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program
Primary Care and Rural Health
Ohio Department of Health
246 North High Street - 7th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
16. Who do I contact for more information?
Phone: (614) 644-8496
Last Updated: 1/8/13
Ohio Physician Loan Repayment Program / Primary Care and Rural Health Main Page