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At least sixteen Illinois cases are now linked to the reports of elevated lead levels in recalled cinnamon applesauce pouches. To learn more about the recall, go to https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/news/lead-poisoning-outbreak-linked-to-cinnamon-applesauce-pouches.html. If you or a family member consumed this product, consult your health care provider.

Illinois Underserved Health Care Provider Workforce Program (UHCWP)

In FY 2024, the application process will open for 30 days beginning on January 2, 2024. If funds remain after the initial application submission opportunity, the application portal will reopen for online applications for an additional 30 days on April 1, 2024.

The Underserved Health Care Provider Workforce (UHCPW) Program, administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), assists communities by recruiting eligible health care providers willing to practice full-time or half-time at an approved medical facility in a designated shortage area in Illinois.

Program funds are used to repay educational loans of eligible health care providers in exchange for their full-time or half-time service.

Eligible health care providers may work less than full-time, but a minimum half-time requires that they agree to double their obligation period. The minimum length of the service obligation for a full-time health care provider is two years. Health care providers who work half-time will have a four-year obligation.

The UHCPW Program is authorized by the Underserved Health Care Provider Workforce Act [110 ILCS 935].

What are the Recipient Requirements?

To qualify for the program, an applicant must:

  • Be licensed to practice medicine in Illinois as a primary care physician (general internist, family physician, general pediatrician), general surgeon, emergency medicine physician, anesthesiologist,* obstetrician, advanced practice registered nurse, physician assistant, or chiropractor.* Anesthesiologists and chiropractors are eligible AFTER January 1, 2024. (Section 3.09 of the Act and 77 Ill. Adm. Code 590.310(a)(1).
  • Be indebted to a governmental or commercial lending institution for educational expenses incurred in pursuit of the applicant’s degree(s) or diploma.
  • Practice at a public or nonprofit private medical facility, or a government-owned, privately owned, independent, or provider-based rural health clinic or hospital in a designated shortage area in Illinois (Section 3.04 of the Act and 77 Ill. Adm. Code 590.310(a)(2).
  • Agree to accept Medicaid, Medicare, the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program, private insurance, and self-pay (as applicable).
  • Not have any judgment liens arising from federal debt (77 Ill. Adm. Code 590.310(a)(4).
  • Not be excluded, suspended, or disqualified by a federal agency (77 Ill. Adm. Code 590.310(a)(5).
  • Sign a written agreement attesting to accepting repayment of health professional educational loans and agreeing to serve for the applicable period of obligated service in a medical facility in a designated shortage area in Illinois (77 Ill. Adm. Code 590.310(a)(6).
  • Be a U.S. citizen or U.S. national.
  • Not be a current participant in any other loan repayment or scholarship program.

The medical facility where UHCPW health care providers serve patients must be located in a "Medically Underserved Area" or "MUA." MUA means a location designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services based on the availability of primary care physicians, demographic characteristics, and health status of the residents of a service area.

Medical facilities can include:

  • Hospital
  • State mental health institution
  • Public health center
  • Outpatient medical facility
  • Long-term care facility
  • Community mental health center
  • Migrant health center
  • Community health center
  • State correctional institution

What is the Amount of Financial Assistance?

Up to $50,000. However, if the total amount of the applicant’s qualified educational loans is less than $50,000, the amount of loan assistance received will be reduced accordingly.

What are the Work Requirements?

Every recipient must work a full-time or half-time clinical practice in the profession for which the provider was awarded a loan repayment contract.

"Full-time practice" for primary care providers and chiropractors means a provider works a minimum of 40 hours per week for a minimum of 45 weeks per year at an approved medical facility located in a designated shortage area in Illinois. For general surgeons, anesthesiologists, and emergency medicine physicians, full-time practice means working a minimum of 32 hours per week for a minimum of 45 weeks per year at a medical facility located in a designated shortage area in Illinois.

"Half-time practice " for primary care providers and chiropractors means a recipient works a minimum of 20 hours per week, but no more than 39 hours per week, for a minimum of 45 weeks per year at a medical facility located in a designated shortage area in Illinois. For general surgeons, anesthesiologists, and emergency medicine physicians, half-time practice means working a minimum of 16 hours per week, but no more than 24 hours per week, for a minimum of 45 weeks per year at a medical facility located in a designated shortage area in Illinois.

No more than seven weeks (35 workdays) per year can be spent away from the practice for vacation, holidays, continuing professional education, illness, or any other reason. Absences greater than seven weeks in a service year will extend the service commitment end date.

The work hours per week requirement can be compressed into no fewer than four days per week for full-time and two days a week for half-time recipients. Time spent “on call” status will not count toward the hourly requirement. Hours worked over the required 40 hours per week shall not be applied to any other work week.

What are the Reporting Requirements?

Initially, applicants must provide documentation indicating their educational loan balance, W-9 form, professional licenses, verification of U.S. citizenship or U.S. national status, and an employer verification report form.

Within 30 days of receipt of grant funds, the recipient must submit documentation reflecting that the funds were applied to their education loan.

Semi-annual employer verification reports submitted by the provider are required throughout the grant term.

How Will Payments be Made?

IDPH will pay recipients the total award (up to $50,000) upon execution of the grant between IDPH and the recipient. Recipients will be responsible for payments to the financial institutions holding their educational loan.

What are the Repayment Obligations?

If the recipient fails to fulfill the service obligation to provide service at the medical facility in a designated shortage area in Illinois for the duration and hours specified in the agreement, the recipient shall be in breach of the agreement. If IDPH believes a breach has occurred, IDPH shall commence administrative recovery pursuant to the Illinois Grant Funds Recovery Act.

How Do I Submit an Application?

Any health care provider who currently has a practice obligation to another state or federal loan repayment or scholarship program cannot apply for assistance from this program until the practice obligation associated with their other program has been completed.

Note that most federal loan forgiveness programs, i.e., PSLF or SAVE, are not considered to be a conflicting service obligation.

Questions about UHCPW may be directed to: dph.upw@illinois.gov or 217-782-1624.