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News EOHHS Awards over $2 Million in Student Loan Repayment, Special Projects Grants to Community-Based Providers

11/15/2019
  • MassHealth
  • Executive Office of Health and Human Services

BOSTON—As part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s intensive efforts to strengthen access to behavioral health care and bolster the behavioral health care workforce statewide, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services is awarding more than two million dollars in student loan repayments and grant funding to community-based providers.

Eighty-four clinicians in Massachusetts are receiving approximately $1.3 million in student loan repayment awards in return for their commitment to serve in a community setting for four years. Seven primary care physicians, psychiatrists, or psychologists; fifteen nurses or physician assistants; and 62 licensed behavioral health providers have been awarded up to $50,000 each.

Additionally, EOHHS is awarding $700,000 to community providers to develop special projects addressing the primary care or behavioral health needs of their patients. The funding will allow a clinician and their team to devote time during their working hours to these projects. Each awardee will receive up to $40,000 for a one year term, and is unique to the provider’s specific patient needs.

“This is the first step in a series of initiatives that our Administration will roll out over the next few months to build a system of behavioral health care throughout the Commonwealth which begins by providing our front line staff with the tools they need to support their patients,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “Lifting the burden of student debt and providing the flexibility to pilot innovative projects will ease the administrative burden providers’ face while improving quality of care for our residents.”

The funding complements the Baker-Polito Administrations broader, ongoing efforts to create a behavioral health system in Massachusetts. Since 2015, the Administration has prioritized the importance of improving access to behavioral health services across the spectrum of treatment for mental illness, addictions and co-occurring illnesses. In addition to significant policy changes, between FY16 and FY22, more than $1.9 billion will have been invested to improve availability of and access to behavioral health treatment and supports. This summer, the public, consumers and the healthcare community were invited to attend behavioral health listening sessions and inform the design of creating a behavioral health ambulatory treatment system in the Commonwealth. The grant funding and student loan repayment are a direct result of feedback received during the listening sessions and an important step in supporting the behavioral health workforce.

Special project grant awardees include:

Organization Name

Amount

Advocates, Inc.

$39,316.00

Bay Cove Human Services

$40,000.00

Brockton Neighborhood Health Center

$40,000.00

Cambridge Health Alliance

$39,780.00

Cambridge Health Alliance

$40,000.00

Charles River Community Health

$23,801.32

Charles River Community Health

$34,261.85

Dimock Community Health Center

$40,000.00

Family Service Association

$37,629.98

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center

$40,000.00

Justice Resource Institute (JRI)

$40,000.00

MGH Community Health Associates Health Centers

$14,560.00

Lowell Community Health Center

$40,000.00

Lowell Community Health Center

$39,516.00

North Suffolk Mental Health Association, Inc. (Freedom Trail Clinic)

$40,000.00

ServiceNet

$40,000.00

South End Community Health Center

$40,000.00

South End Community Health Center

$40,000.00

Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center

$40,000.00

Vinfen

$40,000.00

Some project examples include:

  • A social worker (LICSW) at ServiceNet, Inc. will have dedicated time to develop a collaborative care model to provide mental health and substance use assessments and treatment, and ensure members are connected to services to address their needs in conjunction with Valley Medical Group in Greenfield.
  • A psychologist at South End Community Health Center in Boston will have dedicated time to create a program to help people quit smoking or vaping. The program will combine behavioral interventions as well as nicotine replacement therapies or medications that support smoking cessation.
  • A physician at Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (GLFHC) will have dedicated time to lead a team in further improving the health center’s ability to screen patients for health-related social needs and connect patients with unmet needs to a robust network of resources. Specifically, the team aims to identify best practices in screening patients, develop a referral network to social resources, integrate screening and referrals into the center’s electronic medical record, and create a patient advisory group on these issues.

The awards offer support to community-based providers, including those that are part of MassHealth’s Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and Community Partners (CPs), retain clinicians and advance their ability to adapt to the new care and payment delivery model. The Support is provided as part of MassHealth’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) Program.

“The clinicians and provider groups receiving these awards have demonstrated their dedication to improving health outcomes for MassHealth members in their community, and I look forward to seeing how these investments will help retain a skilled workforce among our community-based providers and contribute to the sustainability of the new value-based delivery system,” said Assistant Secretary of MassHealth and Medicaid Director Daniel Tsai.

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MassHealth 

MassHealth is the name of Massachusetts' Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Executive Office of Health and Human Services 

The Executive Office of Health and Human Services is the largest secretariat in state government and is comprised of 12 agencies, in addition to 2 soldiers’ homes and the MassHealth program. Our efforts are focused on the health, resilience, and independence of the one in four residents of the Commonwealth we serve. Our public health programs touch every community in the Commonwealth.
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