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SHARP Loan Repayment for Primary Health-care Practitioners

A Message from Governor Bill Walker

Proper health care solutions are crucial to the future of our state and the overall vitality of our people. Alaska’s current health care system is in need of changes that empower patients and health care providers, increase the number of providers throughout the state, and decrease costs for both the state and individuals.

-DHSS biannual external newsletter, “Winter Update:  2014-2015”

SHARP: Providing Support-for-Service to Health Care Practitioners

Special Notice

There will be a general SHARP-I applicant solicitation through February 15, 2017, 5:00 P.M. Alaska Time. SHARP-I is Alaska’s state loan repayment program.

Eligible occupations for SHARP-I are:

 
Tier 1:

  • Physician (MD or DO)
  • Dentist
  • Pharmacist

Tier 2:

  • Registered Nurse and advanced nursing practices including, but not limited to, Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Midwife
  • Physician Assistant
  • Registered Clinical Dental Hygienist
  • Clinical or Counseling Psychologist
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
  • Marriage and Family Therapist

Tier 1 occupations pay $35,000 annually against student debt, and $47,000 for positions determined to be very hard-to-fill. Tier 2 occupations pay $20,000 annually and $27,000 for very hard-to-fill positions

SHARP-I is a two-year commitment and receives up to half of its funding from the federal government. For this reason all SHARP-I clinicians serve in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). For more information about HPSAs visit the HPSA Find website.

Service under SHARP-I is premised on a contract (memorandum of agreement) signed by the clinician, the employer, and the State of Alaska. For this reason the employer must already be in agreement about participating in SHARP and the responsibilities that entails, including a partial employer matching payment. Clinicians interested in SHARP will need to find an employer that is interested in participating.

SHARP-I Applications:

Special Note:

SHARP Recruitment Prerogative Option: The employer has the option of a 75% match payment for Tier-1 and Tier-2 positions with the prerogative to offer with certainty the SHARP loan payment benefit detailed in the MOA to an eligible candidate. Upon signed agreement with DHSS, the employer will have the guaranteed option to offer its candidate the SHARP benefit. Practice sites must meet eligibility criteria described on the SHARP website.

In the event that more than one practitioner application is received for a given employer then the employer will be asked to rank-order those applicants.  This ordering will be considered by SHARP Council in its decision-making.

 

Overview

The purpose of SHARP is to address the worsening shortage of certain health professionals in the state by increasing the number and improving the distribution of healthcare professionals who provide direct patient care.  SHARP particularly focuses on increasing the access to healthcare for higher-needs populations by working to increase the recruitment and retention of selected health care practitioners.  SHARP provides support-for-service to practitioners in the form of either repayment of qualifying education loans and/or payment of direct incentive, pursuant to a signed SHARP contract with the State of Alaska. 

SHARP-I

The purpose of the SHARP-I program option is to recruit and retain selected primary health care professionals to serve in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) in exchange for the repayment of qualifying educational loans, pursuant to a signed SHARP MOA with the State of Alaska.  

Service Contract

Interested parties can view an inspection copy of the current SHARP-I Memorandum of Agreement:

Funding

SHARP is operated by the State of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services, and is jointly supported by funds from several sources including the State of Alaska’s General Fund, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, and the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), and required partial employer match.

What People are Saying About SHARP

 
SHARP is working and we're making progress!

SHARP Employer Sites Seeking Clinicians

SHARP-II:

  • SHARP-II is currently not taking any new clinician applications. Any questions about all matters regarding SHARP should be directed to:
  • Robert Sewell, Ph.D., Program Manager
    SHARP Program, Alaska DHSS
    (907) 465-4065 phone
    E-mail: robert.sewell@alaska.gov

Learn More about SHARP-II

 

SHARP-II was established by the passage of AS 18.29 in Alaska’s 27th Legislature, and is also known as the Health Care Professions Loan Repayment and Incentive Program (Chapter 25, SLA 12).  It is exclusively supported by non-federal sources, including the State General Fund and required partial employer-match.  The loan repayments and direct inventive payments provided by this statute are intended to ensure that residents throughout the state, including recipients of medical assistance and Medicare, have access to healthcare and that residents of rural areas of the state, in particular, experience improved access to healthcare services. 

Overview

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 another three-year contract through a competitive application process.

  • Tier-1: Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists
  • Tier-2: Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, RN-Level Nurse, Physical Therapists, Clinical Psychologists, Clinical Social Workers, and Dental Hygienists

SHARP-II has certain stipulations, a key one being that holding a concurrent service obligation with virtually any other entity is specifically disallowed (e.g., NHSC, I.H.S., and so on). Another key stipulation is that each participating Site must contribute a partial employer match to its clinician’s support-for-service payment, although reduction of this required match amount may be possible in some circumstances. Further, all participating Sites must be within Alaska-designated health care service shortage areas (HCSSAs). Sites must accept patients who receive Medicaid or Medicare, and the uninsured on a sliding fee basis. Under SHARP-II a significantly expanded range of facilities may become designated as eligible practice Sites.

Important Notice about Concurrent Service Obligations

Concurrent service obligations are not allowed in the SHARP Program. SHARP participants can only receive one support-for-service award. In some cases an employer will offer the clinician a signing bonus and/or moving expenses as a service obligation. Clinicians who receive these benefits can participate in the SHARP Program as long as the employer stipulates that these benefits don’t constitute a service obligation.

Questions?

To request additional information about the SHARP Program, please email Robert Sewell. Email: robert.sewell@alaska.gov.

Or fill out the SHARP Inquiry Form

  • Robert Sewell, Ph.D., Program Director
    Alaska Division of Public Health
    Section of Health Planning & Systems Development
    P.O. Box 110610
    Juneau, AK 99811-0610
    Phone: (907) 465-4065

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