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Introduced Version Senate Bill 325 History

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Senate Bill No. 325

(By Senators Stollings, Jenkins, Kirkendoll, Laird, Miller, Palumbo, Plymale, Prezioso, Tucker,                   Yost, Boley, M. Hall, Unger, Fitzsimmons, Beach, Carmichael and Nohe)

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         [Introduced February 20, 2013; referred to the Committee on Education; and then to the Committee on Finance       .]                      

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A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §16-45-1, §16-45-2, §16-45-3, §16-45-4, §16-45-5 and §16-45-6, all relating to creating a loan forgiveness program for health professionals.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
    That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §16-45-1, §16-45-2, §16-45-3, §16-45-4, §16-45-5 and §16-45-6, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 45. HEALTH PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAM.
§16-45-1. Definitions.

     For purposes of this section, the following definitions apply:
     "Advanced nurse practitioner" means a person who is licensed to practice as an advanced practice nurse.
     "Bureau" means the Bureau for Public Health.
     "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health.
     "Dentist" means a person who is licensed to practice as a dentist.
     "Dental hygienist" means a person who is licensed to practice as a dental hygienist.
     "Emergency circumstances" means those conditions that make it impossible for the participant to fulfill the service commitment including death, total and permanent disability or temporary disability lasting more than two years.
     "Medical resident" means a person participating in a medical residency.
     "Nurse" means a person who is licensed to practice as a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse.
     "Nurse-midwife" means a person who is licensed to practice as a nurse-midwife.
     "Pharmacist" means a person who is licensed to practice as a pharmacist.
     "Physician" means a person who is licensed to practice medicine.
     "Physician assistant" means a person licensed as a physician assistant.
     "Qualified educational loan" means a government, commercial or foundation loan for actual costs paid for tuition, reasonable education expenses and reasonable living expenses related to the graduate or undergraduate education of a health care professional.
§16-45-2. Health Professional Education Loan Forgiveness.
     (a) There is created a Special Revolving Fund account under the Bureau for Public Health in the State Treasury to be known as the Health Professional Education Loan Forgiveness Fund which shall be used to carry out the purposes of this section. The fund consists of:
     (1) Appropriations provided by the Legislature;
     (2) Repayment of loans made under this section;
     (3) Amounts provided by medical provider organizations in this state or by political subdivisions of the state under an agreement which requires the recipient to practice his or her profession in the political subdivision providing the funds, or otherwise in this state, for a predetermined period of time and that thirty percent of their practice be dedicated to persons who receive services under the state Medicaid program set forth in chapter nine of this code; and
     (4) Other amounts available from external sources.
     (b) Balances remaining in the fund at the end of the fiscal year do not expire or revert. All costs associated with administering this section shall be paid from the Health Professional Education Loan Forgiveness Fund.
§16-45-3. Eligibility.
     (a) To be eligible to participate in the loan forgiveness program, a person must:
     (1) Be a medical resident or be enrolled in a dentist, dental hygienist, pharmacist, advanced nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, nurse anesthetist, advanced clinical nurse specialist, registered nurse or a licensed practical nurse training program; and
     (2) Agree to work in a designated rural area or for a state mental health facility.
     (b) An applicant selected to participate shall sign a contract to agree to serve a minimum three-year, full-time service obligation.
§16-45-4. Loan forgiveness.
     (a) The Commissioner of Public Health may select applicants each year for participation in the loan forgiveness program within the limits of available funding. The commissioner shall distribute available funds for loan forgiveness proportionally among the eligible professions according to the vacancy rate for each profession in the required geographic area, facility type, teaching area, patient group or specialty type.
     (b) The participant shall provide the commissioner with verification that the full amount of loan repayment disbursement received by the participant has been applied toward the designated loans. After each disbursement, verification must be received by the commissioner and approved before the next loan repayment disbursement is made. Participants who move their practice remain eligible for loan repayment as long as they practice as required under section three of this article.
§16-45-5. Penalty for nonfulfillment.
     If a participant does not fulfill the required minimum commitment of service, the commissioner shall collect from the participant the total amount paid to the participant under the loan forgiveness program plus interest. The commissioner shall deposit the money collected in the Health Care Access Fund to be credited to the Health Professional Education Loan Forgiveness program account. The commissioner shall allow waivers of all or part of the money owed the commissioner as a result of a nonfulfillment penalty if emergency circumstances prevented fulfillment of the minimum service commitment.
§16-45-6. Report.
     No later than thirty days following the end of each fiscal year, the commissioner shall prepare and submit a report to the Governor and the Joint Committee on Health. At a minimum, the report shall include the following information:
     (1) The number of loans awarded in each area;
     (2) The total amount of the loans awarded;
     (3) The amount of any unexpended moneys in the fund; and
     (4) The rate of default during the previous fiscal year on the repayment of loans granted pursuant to this section.

     NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create a loan forgiveness program for health professionals .

     This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.


     This bill has been recommended for passage during the 2013 Regular Session by the Joint Committee on Health.

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