HOUSE BILL 209
56th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2023
Kristina Ortez and Gail Armstrong and Joshua N. Hernandez and Natalie Figueroa and Reena Szczepanski
RELATING TO STUDENT LOANS; AMENDING THE HEALTH PROFESSIONAL LOAN REPAYMENT ACT TO UPDATE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR RECEIVING LOAN REPAYMENT.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. Section 21-22D-3 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1995, Chapter 144, Section 18, as amended) is amended to read:
"21-22D-3. DEFINITIONS.--As used in the Health Professional Loan Repayment Act:
A. "department" means the higher education department;
B. "health professional" means a [primary care] physician, optometrist, podiatrist, physician's assistant, dentist, nurse, member of an allied health profession as defined in the Allied Health Student Loan for Service Act or a licensed or certified health professional as determined by the department;
C. "loan" means a grant of money to defray the costs incidental to a health education, under a contract between the federal government or a commercial lender and a health professional, requiring either repayment of principal and interest or repayment in services;
D. "nurse in advanced practice" means a registered nurse, including a:
(1) certified nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist or clinical nurse specialist, authorized pursuant to the Nursing Practice Act to function beyond the scope of practice of professional registered nursing; or
(2) certified nurse-midwife licensed by the department of health; and
E. "osteopathic primary care physician" means an osteopathic physician licensed pursuant to the Medical Practice Act with specialty training in family medicine, general internal medicine, obstetrics, gynecology or general pediatrics."
SECTION 2. Section 21-22D-6 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 1995, Chapter 144, Section 21, as amended) is amended to read:
"21-22D-6. AWARD CRITERIA--CONTRACT TERMS--PAYMENT.--
A. Prior to receiving an award, the health professional shall file with the higher education department a declaration of intent to practice as a health professional in areas of New Mexico designated as underserved by the department. The department shall consult with the department of health when designating areas as underserved.
B. Award criteria shall provide that:
(1) amounts shall be dependent upon the location of the practice, the applicant's total health professional education indebtedness and characteristics of the practice;
(2) preference in making awards shall be to individuals who have graduated from a New Mexico post-secondary educational institution;
(3) recruitment awards shall be made to eligible participants who agree to relocate to an approved designated area;
(4) highest priority shall be given to participants in practices in which health profession vacancies are difficult to fill, practices that require after hours call at least every other night and practices that have heavy obstetrical responsibilities;
(5) award amounts may be modified based upon available funding or other special circumstances; and
(6) an award shall not exceed the total medical education indebtedness of any participant.
C. The following education debts are not eligible for repayment pursuant to the Health Professional Loan Repayment Act:
(1) amounts incurred as a result of participation in state loan-for-service programs or other state programs whose purpose states that service be provided in exchange for financial assistance;
(2) scholarships that have a service component or obligation;
(3) personal loans from friends or relatives; and
(4) loans that exceed individual standard school expense levels.
D. The loan repayment award shall be evidenced by a contract between the health professional and the department acting on behalf of the state. The contract shall provide for the payment by the state of a stated sum to the health professional's debtors and shall state the obligations of the health professional under the program, including a minimum [two-year] three-year period of service, quarterly reporting requirements and other policies established by the department.
E. Recipients shall serve a complete year in order to receive credit for that year. The minimum credit for a year shall be established by the department.
F. If a health professional does not comply with the terms of the contract, the department shall assess a penalty of up to three times the amount of award disbursed plus eighteen percent interest, unless the department finds acceptable extenuating circumstances for why the health professional cannot serve or comply with the terms of the contract. If the department does not find acceptable extenuating circumstances for the health professional's failure to comply with the contract, the department shall require immediate repayment plus the amount of the penalty.
G. The department shall adopt regulations to implement the provisions of this section. The regulations may provide for the disbursement of loan repayment awards to the lenders of health professionals in annual or other periodic installments."
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