Politics

Katko renews push for student loan repayment to address mental health care shortage

U.S. Rep. John Katko wants to boost the mental health care professional ranks by offering an appealing incentive: Work in an underserved area and the federal government will repay your student loans. 

Katko, R-Camillus, is reintroducing his bill that would establish a loan repayment program for mental health care workers. Psychiatrists, school psychologists, social workers and other professionals would be eligible to have up to $250,000 in student loans repaid if they work in communities affected by mental health care shortages. 

The program proposed by Katko would repay one-sixth of the mental health care professional’s eligible student loans for each year of service. 

Katko, who co-chairs the Mental Health Caucus, said the bill would help address “the dire shortage of mental health professionals” in underserved communities across the country, including central New York. 

“The ongoing pandemic has taken a devastating toll on the mental health of millions of Americans,” he continued. “We have to ensure there is a sustainable workforce of mental health providers in every community able to deliver care and support to those in need.” 

There is already a shortage of mental health care professionals, and it’s expected to get worse. According to Katko’s office, more than 120 million Americans live in areas lacking mental health care providers. The Health Resources and Services Administration estimates that there will be a shortage of more than 250,000 mental health professionals by 2025. 

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