Statement of Purpose
The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) announces the availability of funding to assist rural communities in recruiting health care providers, other than physicians, to practice in medically underserved communities by providing partial student loan reimbursement or stipends for health professionals who serve in those communities. The Rural Communities Health Care Investment Program (RCHIP) utilizes funds from a permanent endowment established from the tobacco settlement for the State of Texas. The authority for this program is provided in Texas Government Code Chapter 487, Subchapter M, and Texas Administrative Code Title 4, Part 1, Chapter 30, Subchapter B, Division 7.
Projected Timeline of Events
July 15, 2022
Deadline to submit application
August 15, 2022 - August 31, 2023
Term of Award
The RCHIP Program assists rural communities in recruiting health care providers, other than physicians, to practice in their community. The program provides partial student loan reimbursement or stipend payments to eligible non-physician providers:
1) Who hold a Texas license (or certificate, registration, permit, or other form of authorization required by state law or regulation) to work in a health care profession (herein collectively referred to as a “license”); and
2) Who either:
a) received the license in the field under which this application is submitted within the last 24 months prior to the application deadline;
b) practiced in a county with more than 150,000 people and have moved within the preceding 12-month period or will move to practice in a qualifying community in the field under which this application is submitted (applicant may not have been residing or practicing in the qualifying community for more than 12 months prior to the application deadline).
Eligible health professionals include but are not limited to: physician assistants; nurses; physical and occupational therapists; pharmacists; optometrists; emergency medical technicians; speech pathologists; dentists; and licensed non-physician mental health practitioners. Health professionals must:
1) Reside in the State of Texas;
2) Not have other existing service obligations/commitments to any entity or participate in an educational loan reimbursement program or other incentive program;
3) Provide services to clients that receive at least one form of indigent care in the qualifying community;
4) Agree to practice in the qualifying community for at least 12 consecutive months;
5) Provide services in a Texas county that has either MUA designation or the HPSA designation appropriate for the provider type applying to the program (e.g., dentists apply for a dental HPSA, mental health providers apply for a mental health HPSA, primary care providers for a primary care HPSA); and
6) Establish an office and residency in the qualifying community before receiving any portion of a loan repayment or stipend.
Please note that for purposes of this award, services may not be provided solely through telehealth.
An eligible community for purposes of this program refers to a community that is located in a Texas county with a population of 50,000 or less and has been designated under state or federal law as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or a Medically Underserved Area (MUA).
For more information about HPSA and MUA designations, see: (http://www.hrsa.gov/shortage/)
NOTE: Health professionals currently fulfilling an obligation to provide health care services as part of a scholarship agreement, a student loan agreement, or another student loan repayment or reimbursement program cannot simultaneously receive funding from a state-funded loan repayment program for the same period of service.
Grantee Responsibilities and Accountability
The grantee (an applicant selected for award) has full responsibility for compliance with program statutes, regulations, and grant terms and conditions, including but not limited to the following:
· Provide health care services to the designated community for the duration of the obligated period per the grant agreement;
· Provide health services to participants of government-funded health benefits programs in the designated community;
· Submit an affidavit to TDA certifying compliance;
· Cooperate with TDA in efforts to collect information and data relevant to the program;
· Notify TDA within 30 days of any changes in address or other relevant contact information during the agreement term; and
· Be personally liable to the state for repayment of any funds awarded, plus payment of interest, a penalty and reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, if the grantee does not provide the required health care services to the qualifying community or is determined ineligible to participate in the program after receiving funds.
Awards are subject to the availability of funds. If funds are not appropriated or collected for this program, applicants will be informed accordingly.
Applications will be competitively reviewed and scored. Selected applicants will receive awards of $10,000. RCHIP provides funds for reimbursement of student loans or as a stipend payment for health professionals without a student loan balance. Applicants with loan repayments will be prioritized ahead of stipend applicants. An educational loan is not eligible for reimbursement if it (1) was a self-made educational loan from one's own insurance policy or pension plan or from the insurance policy or pension plan of a spouse or other relative; (2) involves a service obligation; or (3) is in default at the time of application. Current loan balance statements from the lender in PDF form are required to be submitted with the application.
Selected applicants will be required to submit evidence that they have begun practicing in a qualified community (e.g., letter from employer, pay stub). In addition, award recipients must sign a grant agreement agreeing to practice in the qualifying community for a minimum of 12 consecutive months.
A one-time payment will be made after 12 months of service has been provided by the award recipient and certified by the employer or community. Failure to remain employed in the qualifying community for the required service period may result in termination of the award contract and/or a requirement to repay the award to TDA, plus interest, a penalty, and reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, as applicable.
Within 30 days of receipt of award payments to loan repayment recipients, the recipient must provide TDA documentation that the award amount was used towards loan repayment for any loan previously listed in Section B of the application. Failure to apply grant funds towards repayment of a student loan and submit required documentation will result in a requirement to repay the award to TDA, plus interest, a penalty, and reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees.
Term of Award
Selected applicants will be required to complete 12 consecutive months of service in the designated qualifying community. Service must be provided between August 15, 2022, and August 31, 2023, or as specified in the grant agreement. Grant agreements will detail the specific timeframe for the grantee’s service requirements.
To be considered, applications must be complete and include all requested information. If selected for award, the application will be incorporated into the grant agreement.
Applications will be screened for eligibility and completeness. Applications that are eligible and complete will be competitively reviewed and scored. The highest scoring applications will be selected for funding.
· County Level HPSA score. The County HPSA score used will be the HPSA associated with the Provider type, i.e., nurses will use Primary Care HPSAs, mental health professionals will use the Mental Health HPSA, etc.
· Applicants seeking loan repayment: 1 point
· Applicants who obtained their medical education from a Texas school: 1 point
· Applicants with full-time employment: 1 point
· Tie-breaker: the applicant located within a county with a higher poverty rate will take priority
The complete application must be RECEIVED by 5:00 p.m. (Central Time) on July 15, 2022. It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit all materials necessary for evaluation early enough to ensure timely delivery. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.
TDA takes no responsibility for applications submitted electronically that are captured, blocked, filtered, quarantined, or otherwise prevented from reaching the proper destination server by any TDA anti-virus or other security software.
For questions regarding submission of the application and/or TDA requirements, please contact the Texas State Office of Rural Health by email at Erica.Lozano@TexasAgriculture.gov.
Successful Application Requirements
Selected applicants will be required to submit an affidavit certifying compliance with service requirements at 12 months of service. Reporting timelines will be provided in the grant agreement. Failure to comply with reporting requirements may result in the withholding of funds and/or termination of the award.
Payments will be made to the selected applicants after 12 months of service in the designated community.
Selected applicants will receive a Notice of Grant Award (NGA) letter and an official Grant Agreement from TDA. The NGA is not legally binding until a grant agreement is fully executed.