Wyoming State Loan Repayment Program Wyoming Department of Health, Public Health Division, Office of Rural Health 122 West 25th Street, Suite 102E Cheyenne, WY 82002 Project Director: Keri Wagner Phone: (307) 777-6512 E-mail: email@example.com Annual Federal Funds Requested: $250,000 The Wyoming Office of Rural Health (ORH) staff is committed to improving access to comprehensive primary medical, dental, and mental health services to medically underserved populations, vulnerable populations, and communities across Wyoming. The Wyoming State Loan Repayment Program (WYSLRP) will expand and enhance the ORH’s current activities which support the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals across the state by providing educational loan repayment to primary care, dental, and mental health providers in health professional shortage areas (HPSAs). The WYSLRP will provide a minimum of five (5) loan repayment awards of up to $50,000 to eligible providers during each year of the four (4) year project period. Wyoming suffers from a shortage of primary medical, dental, and mental health providers. The entire state is designated as a mental health HPSA, ninety-one percent (91%) of Wyoming’s counties have some form of primary care HPSA designation, and seventy percent (70%) have some form of dental HPSA designation. High medical malpractice rates, high numbers of uninsured patients, low reimbursement rates, a rapidly aging population, and continuing difficulties with recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals have combined to create a crisis in Wyoming. In addition, recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals statewide has been severely impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for nursing. According to the December 31, 2021, Designated HPSA Quarterly Summary from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Wyoming needs an additional twenty-four (24) full-time equivalent primary care physic
ians, eight (8) full-time equivalent dentists, and twenty-eight (28) full-time equivalent psychiatrists to eliminate all HPSAs in the state. These factors have resulted in a lack of access for the uninsured and publicly insured due to caps placed by providers on the proportion of these clients they will accept into their practices and some areas of the state have a lack of access to primary medical, dental, and mental health services regardless of payer. Loan repayment benefits are a significant factor in a provider’s decision to practice in Wyoming as they offset the financial hardships created by the high medical malpractice rates, low reimbursement rates, and high numbers of uninsured patients in Wyoming’s underserved areas, and the WYSLRP will be one component of a multi-faceted approach to recruitment and retention incentives for Wyoming providers. By providing educational loan repayment to those providers practicing in Wyoming’s underserved communities, WYSLRP will positively impact the overall health outcomes for the population through increased recruitment and retention and access to primary medical, dental, and mental health services.