March 8, 2011
Defunding the state’s Dental Loan Repayment Program was recently proposed as an option to help balance the state’s recession-plagued budget. If you or any of your staff have benefitted from the Dental Loan Repayment Program, the CDA would like to hear your story. This will greatly help us in defending the need and value of the program.
To meet the constitutional mandate of a balanced budget, the state must cut $156M from this year’s budget, which ends June 30, and $786M from next year’s budget, which starts July 1. Staff for the state’s joint budget committee published a document listing all possible budget-balancing options. This list, deemed the “ugly list,” included a proposal to transfer the tobacco settlement revenues used to fund the state’s Dental Loan Repayment Program to the state’s general fund on an ongoing basis.
The Dental Loan Repayment Program is available to dentists and dental hygienists who agree to serve medically underserved populations in rural or urban settings. The repayment program is supported with an annual appropriation of $200,000 from the state’s tobacco settlement receipts. Per each two-year service contract, dentists are eligible for up to $25,000 in loan repayment, and dental hygienists are eligible for up to $6,000 in loan repayment. Each provider in the program treats an average of 1,397 underserved Coloradans annually.
The CDA is already taking action to help defend the program. Given the extensive debt load of new dental school graduates, the loan repayment program is critical in allowing providers the freedom to serve in rural and other underserved areas, and in providing access-to-care for many Coloradans. If this program affects you, please share your story with the CDA. The more testimonies we can gather, the stronger our voice will be in the defense of this program. Please contact Jennifer Goodrum at the CDA at 303-996-2847, 800-343-3010 x107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.