The State of Iowa recognizes access to healthcare as one of the biggest challenges affecting rural communities. Iowa has experienced a deficit of primary care providers, which underscores the need for healthcare workforce development initiatives. In a study conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration on state-level projections of supply and demand for primary care physicians from 2013 to 2025, the study found that Iowa would be undersupplied by 200 physicians. As of 2020, the ratio of population to primary care physicians (U.S. 1330:1 Iowa, 1370:1) and dentists (U.S. 1450:1, Iowa 1500:1)in Iowa is higher than the national ratio. More concerning is the stark difference in the ratio of mental health providers in Iowa when compared to the national ratio (U.S. 400:1, Iowa 640:1). To enhance access to healthcare and mitigate unmet healthcare needs, the State engages in numerous initiatives, one of which is the Primary Care Provider Loan Repayment Program (PCPLRP). The PCPLRP is administered through an annual Request for Proposal process by the Iowa Department of Public Health (the Department), Division of Acute Disease Prevention, Emergency Preparedness, and Environmental Health, Bureau of Policy and Workforce Services, Primary Care Office. The PCPLRP aims to transform the workforce by targeting the need of primary care medical, dental, and mental health practitioners providing clinical services among rural and underserved populations. The program provides educational loan repayment assistance in exchange for a minimum two year service obligation at an eligible practice site(s) located in a federally designated health professional shortage area(s) that corresponds to the provider's discipline. Program objectives are to: (1) Improve access to health care among rural and underserved populations, (2) Expand the health care workforce in rural and underserved areas of Iowa, and (3) Distribute health care providers where they are mo
st needed. Over the past 10 years, through historical administration of the Primary Care Provider Loan Repayment Program, the Department has awarded 94 qualifying health care practitioners utilizing an average of $183,000 in federal funds annually with a 1:1 state match.