CBS19: Spanberger, Rogers want to reauthorize program to pay student loans for addiction treatment providers


A bipartisan bill has been introduced that aims to reauthorize a popular loan repayment program for people who become addiction and recovery treatment providers.

Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-7th) and Hall Rogers (R-KY-5th) want to see the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Loan Repayment Program, or STAR LRP, revived and given more funding.

According to a release, this is part of an effort to save more lives and increase access to treatment for substance use disorder and mental health resources across the country.

Under this program, participants who agree to serve as full-time SUD treatment providers in underserved areas can get up to $250,000 in student loans repaid.

In 2021, the program received more than 3,000 applications, but it only had enough funding to help 225 students.

Under this new bill, the program would be reauthorized for five years, through fiscal year 2028, and the amount of authorized funding for it would increase from $25 million to $75 million.

Additionally, loan payments would be tax-exempt, similar to the Perkins Loan program.

“During our neighbors’ darkest moments, Virginia’s treatment and recovery professionals are there for them, they’re there in the middle of the night, they’re there when hope is almost gone, and they’re there for the long road to recovery. These men and women deserve to be appreciated and fairly rewarded for their critical work,” said Spanberger. “I’m proud to work with Congressman Rogers to make sure those who are struggling with addiction and recovery can be connected with these incredible men and women. By protecting STAR LRP and gradually increasing its funding, we can make sure that more Virginians, and more Americans across the country, have access to the help and support they need.”

“It is heartbreaking to hear about individuals who do not have access to treatment providers when they are desperate for help. This program aims to pave the pathway for more students to consider the life changing impact they can have in SUD and mental health care,” said Rogers, a long-time champion in combating the opioid epidemic. “The program has been a huge success since we launched it in 2018, but the demand continues to grow. This bill not only protects the program from expiring later this year, but also increases funding to support more students in the program.”

The release says the Health Resources and Services Administration projects there will be a shortage of more than 24,000 behavioral health providers by 2030.

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