(1) To encourage qualified medical professionals to practice in underserved locations where there are shortages of such personnel, there is established the Medical Education Reimbursement and Loan Repayment Program. The function of the program is to make payments that offset loans and educational expenses incurred by students for studies leading to a medical or nursing degree, medical or nursing licensure, or advanced practice registered nurse licensure or physician assistant licensure. The following licensed or certified health care professionals are eligible to participate in this program:

(a) Medical doctors with primary care specialties, doctors of osteopathic medicine with primary care specialties, physician assistants, licensed practical nurses and registered nurses, 1and advanced practice registered nurses with primary care specialties such as certified nurse midwives. Primary care medical specialties for physicians include obstetrics, gynecology, general and family practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, and other specialties which may be identified by the Department of Health. From the funds available, the Department of Health shall make payments as follows:

1. Up to $4,000 per year for licensed practical nurses and registered nurses, up to $10,000 per year for advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants, and up to $20,000 per year for physicians. Penalties for noncompliance shall be the same as those in the National Health Services Corps Loan Repayment Program. Educational expenses include costs for tuition, matriculation, registration, books, laboratory and other fees, other educational costs, and reasonable living expenses as determined by the Department of Health.
2. All payments are contingent on continued proof of primary care practice in an area defined in s. 395.602(2)(b), or an underserved area designated by the Department of Health, provided the practitioner accepts Medicaid reimbursement if eligible for such reimbursement. Correctional facilities, state hospitals, and other state institutions that employ medical personnel shall be designated by the Department of Health as underserved locations. Locations with high incidences of infant mortality, high morbidity, or low Medicaid participation by health care professionals may be designated as underserved.
(b) Advanced practice registered nurses registered to engage in autonomous practice under s. 464.0123 and practicing in the primary care specialties of family medicine, general pediatrics, general internal medicine, or midwifery. From the funds available, the Department of Health shall make payments of up to $15,000 per year to advanced practice registered nurses registered under s. 464.0123 who demonstrate, as required by department rule, active employment providing primary care services in a public health program, an independent practice, or a group practice that serves Medicaid recipients and other low-income patients and that is located in a primary care health professional shortage area. Only loans to pay the costs of tuition, books, medical equipment and supplies, uniforms, and living expenses may be covered. For the purposes of this paragraph:

1. “Primary care health professional shortage area” means a geographic area, an area having a special population, or a facility with a score of at least 18, as designated and calculated by the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration or a rural area as defined by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.
2. “Public health program” means a county health department, the Children’s Medical Services program, a federally funded community health center, a federally funded migrant health center, or any other publicly funded or nonprofit health care program designated by the department.
(2) The Department of Health may use funds appropriated for the Medical Education Reimbursement and Loan Repayment Program as matching funds for federal loan repayment programs such as the National Health Service Corps State Loan Repayment Program.
(3) The Department of Health may adopt any rules necessary for the administration of the Medical Education Reimbursement and Loan Repayment Program. The department may also solicit technical advice regarding conduct of the program from the Department of Education and Florida universities and Florida College System institutions. The Department of Health shall submit a budget request for an amount sufficient to fund medical education reimbursement, loan repayments, and program administration.