The state has allocated an additional $5 million in federal funding for a loan repayment program for health care practitioners who treat substance-use and opioid-use disorders.
The increased funding, announced Dec. 20, is available to health care practitioners who work in areas with high opioid-use and a shortage of health-care options.
The program, designed to offset physicians education costs, was launched in May when Gov. Tom Wolf made the first $5 million allocation.
“This funding helps us ensure that those affected by the crisis living in both underserved areas, and areas hit particularly hard, have access to primary medical and behavioral health care services to treat their disorder,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health.
There are 30 highly impacted counties where opioid abuse is highest, according to the state.
Rural counties most affected by the opioid epidemic are Armstrong, Blair, Cambria, Carbon, Crawford, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Perry, Schuylkill, Venango, and Washington. Urban counties most affected are Allegheny, Beaver, Berks, Bucks, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lehigh, Luzerne, Northampton, Philadelphia, Westmoreland and York.
While applications are not limited to these counties, practitioners in these counties could receive additional points when being considered for the loan repayment program.
Practitioners are required to have already served two years treating substance use disorder and opioid addiction in order to apply.
Applications are available through Jan. 21.
More information is available on the Department of Health’s Substance Use Disorder Loan Repayment Program website.