National Health Service Corps Hits All-Time High In 2011

The number of National Health Service Corps clinicians has nearly tripled in the last three years.
by | October 13, 2011

The National Health Service Corps, primary care physicians who have received loan repayments and scholarships from the federal government, has nearly tripled its members in three years, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathy Sebelius announced on Thursday.

Thanks to a new set of grants awarded on Thursday, more than 10,000 primary care clinicians will be serving communities that lack access to quality care, Sebelius said in a conference call with reporters, treating about 10.5 million patients in 17,000-NHSC approved sites throughout the country. Three years ago, there were 3,600 NHSC clinicians who reached about 3.7 million people.

Funded through a combination of grants through the stimulus package, the Affordable Care Act and HHS budget appropriations, NHSC gave out 5,418 loan repayment grants, totaling $243 million, in 2011. The program also awarded 247 scholarships, totaling $46 million, through the Affordable Care Act.

The loan repayment program provide an initial, tax-free grant of up to $60,000 for two years of service in a high-need area. Scholarship recipients receive enough money to pay for up to four years of school and pledge to work at least two years in underserved areas.

In total, the Affordable Care Act has set aside $300 million annually over the next five years for NHSC, Becky Spitzgo, associate administrator with the Health Resources and Services Administration, said.

NHSC ensures "underserved rural and urban populations" have access to health care, Sebelius said. That includes yearly physicals, vaccines and basic dental care. About one in five Americans currently lacks access to such care. She also boasted that four out of five NHSC clinicians continue to serve in their area after their obligation has been paid.

"When you don't have access to primary care, small health problems grow into big ones. Chronic conditions that could be managed spiral out of control," Sebelius said. "Here in America, no one should go with the care they need just because of where they live."

Governing has broken down the number of NHSC clinicians in each state below, based on figures from the beginning of fiscal year 2011. Data provided by HRSA.

State Total Clinicians  Urban  Rural  Job Vacancies (NHSC-Eligible)
AL 120 76 48 155
AK 80 17 64 85
AZ 246 79 174 253
AR 124 26 100 214
CA 910 478 469 856
CO 254 136 121 71
CT 166 106 65 96
DE 18 15 3 18
FL 355 210 179 222
GA 210 109 106 401
HI 55 17 38 26
ID 209 85 131 64
IL 497 364 162 221
IN 137 64 74 87
IA 113 41 76 121
KS 121 42 82 104
KY 153 45 114 220
LA 150 79 76 226
ME 103 39 74 88
MD 152 96 63 129
MA 277 235 51 148
MI 304 159 156 284
MN 217 97 130 145
MS 132 60 80 273
MO 434 198 257 369
MT 192 94 102 142
NE 82 58 27 37
NV 27 10 19 39
NH 44 22 23 12
NJ 44 43 2 114
NM 165 54 115 223
NY 523 340 207 367
NC 221 82 143 94
ND 57 19 38 89
OH 168 96 77 119
OK 139 65 74 216
OR 182 82 108 163
PA 231 117 124 239
RI 39 24 16 27
SC 131 70 72 98
SD 54 17 39 54
TN 202 119 96 169
TX 318 192 134 259
UT 126 51 82 22
VT 33 21 14 37
VA 117 50 70 116
WA 333 145 196 222
WI 187 107 83 103
WV 108 32 78 97
WY 67 17 52 44

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