The Alaska State Loan Repayment Program is also
called the SHARP program. SHARP-I is the traditional
option. The program offers loan repayment for primary care clinicians working
in federal HRSA health professional shortage areas (HPSAs), largely with
underserved populations. SHARP-I is jointly
supported by federal grants from HRSA at 50%, and varied non-federal sources
principally including the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (AMHTA), and now
the State General Fund (GF/MH). Dentists may earn up to $35,000 per year; and for very hard-to-fill areas $47,000 per
year. Dental hygienists may earn up to $20,000 per year; and for very hard-to-fill areas $27,000. To date, 111 clinicians have received this
support-for-service benefit under two-year contracts, working in a range of
primary care medical, behavioral health and dental occupations. Settings
include community health centers, tribal health clinics, critical access
hospitals, and community mental health centers, among others.
was established through the passage of H.B. 78, which was signed into law
by the governor in 2012. This legislation stated
that SHARP-II could be resourced wholly through non-federal sources, those
being the State General Fund, and a required corresponding “employer
match”. Regulation has now clarified that the employer match levels
depend upon employer type, with the result being: Public (government)
entities at 10%; non-profit entities at 25% and for-profit entities at
30%. Partial waivers of this required match are possible in some
circumstances. SHARP-II provides loan repayment and direct incentive. Both
full-time and half-time contract options are available. After an initial three
years of service, those clinicians in good standing may gain the opportunity
for a three-year contract (renewal).
SHARP-III is still in
development and is expected to have a start date within the next year.
SHARP-III will expand loan repayment eligibility to include new practice
settings (including Alaska’s urban hospitals) and more occupations (including
administrators). Funding for SHARP-III will come from the employer, 80%, and
20% from an associated contributor such as a community or private foundation,
university, government entity, or other sources.