Loan Repayment for Physicians in Louisiana
Physicians serving in health professional shortage areas (HPSA) across the state may be eligible for the Louisiana Physician Loan Repayment Program. This program repays governmental or commercial educational loans in exchange for serving in underserved facilities.
Physicians can receive up to $30,000 annually for a five-year commitment. Participants who complete their original five-year commitment in compliance, remain in an eligible site in a HPSA, and still have educational loans to repay may be able to extend their commitment with a two-year renewal to receive $15,000 annually.
The Louisiana Physician Loan Repayment Program utilizes the criteria described below to determine how individuals are selected to participate in the program. In the event multiple candidates meet the qualification criteria, a point-based system is used to review/select recipients. If after scoring there are multiple candidates, awards will be based on a “first come first serve” basis, looking at the date/time the application was submitted. Applying for this program does not guarantee automatic funding.
Support may be provided for up to two physicians per site per year. At the end of the application period, if there are remaining funds additional physicians may be supported per site.
Eligible Health Professionals
Physicians (allopathic or osteopathic) listed below are eligible to receive a Physician Loan Repayment Program award (to include those in the final year of their residency):
- General practice
- Family practice
- Internal medicine
- Emergency medicine
- General psychiatry
Application Criteria for Eligibility
To be eligible for the loan repayment program, an applicant shall:
- be licensed and qualified as a doctor of allopathic/osteopathic medicine (MD/DO – to include those in the final year of their residency) to practice in Louisiana;
- provide primary care services in a federally designated health professional shortage area (family practice, general practice, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, psychiatry, emergency medicine);
- be a United States citizen/national;
- agree to serve a minimum of five years in a federally designated health professional shortage area (HPSA) appropriate for their discipline;
- work full-time (40 hours/week), with a minimum of. 32 hours per week providing clinical services in an outpatient/ambulatory care setting or providing comprehensive patient care;
- not have an outstanding contractual obligation to provide a health professional service to the federal government (e.g. an active military obligation, National Health Services Corp (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program, NHSC Scholarship Program), or any other entity unless that service obligation will be completely satisfied before the contract has been signed;
- not have breached a health professional service contract with the federal, state, or local government, or other entities;
- not have defaulted on their educational loans at any time, unless corrective actions have been made and loans are now in good standing;
- not have a lien levied against their property for a debt to the United States government;
- not be arrears on child support payments.
- Professionals whose educational loans are from certified educational lenders, whether governmental or commercial, must have been incurred during completion of their education. Also, the loan funds must have been applied toward tuition, education, and reasonable living expenses for their own graduate/medical/undergraduate degrees.
- Professionals who have not had a lien levied against their property for a debt to the United States government.
- Professionals who have not defaulted on their educational loans at any time, unless corrective actions have been made and loans are now in good standing. Professionals must agree to share confidential information (name and social security number) with Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance (LOFSA) for the sole purpose of verifying loans are in good standing.
- Professionals who have not had a debt “written off” as uncollectible [pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 3711(a)(3)], or had any federal service or payment obligation waived.
- Professionals who agree to use these funds to repay qualifying educational loans.
- Professionals who are current on child support applications and those who are no longer in arrears with past child support payments.
- Professionals will be required to register as a vendor through Louisiana’s LAGov system. This will require logging into the system and supplying your information to receive a vendor number and vendor profile that will be used to track your contract. Additional instruction will be given to the applicants accepted into the program.
- If accepted into this program, the applicant must receive clearance from the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) prior to being approved. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure there are no issues with taxes or penalties from previous filing years. Given that these issues can take a long time to clear up, the applicant should contact LDR to ensure there are no issues at application. A delay in LDR issues may result in the contract offer being rescinded. To check clearance, e-mail LDROSPClearances@la.gov.
Eligible Practice Sites
For the purposes of this program, participants must be employed at a practice site located in a Primary Care HPSA. If the practice site does not meet the criteria, you are not eligible to apply. To find out if your facility is located in a Primary Care HPSA, visit https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/am-i-rural.
- Enter the address of the healthcare facility; click “Locate” then click “Run Report”
- Look under “Shortage Designations.” Do you see “Yes” beside Primary Care? If so, this address is in a Primary Care Health Professional Shortage area.
Ineligible Health Professionals
The following are ineligible to receive a Rural Physician Loan Program award:
- Non-citizens or non-nationals of the United States, including permanent resident aliens and other aliens.
- Professionals who have an outstanding contractual obligation to provide a health professional service to the Federal Government (e.g., an active military obligation, National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program, NHSC Scholarship Program, Nursing Educational Loan Repayment Program or Nursing Scholarship Program obligation), or a state or other entity, unless that service obligation will be completely satisfied before the Rural Physician Loan Program contract has been signed.
- Be aware that certain bonus clauses in some employment contracts may impose a service obligation. If the Rural Physician Loan Program participant’s military training or service, in combination with the participant’s other absences from the service site, exceed 35 workdays per service year, the Rural Physician Loan Program service obligation should be extended to compensate for the break in “full-time” service.
- Professionals who have breached an obligation for health professional service to the federal government, state government, or local government or another entity.
- Professionals who owe an obligation for health professional service to the federal government or a state government, or another entity under an agreement with such federal, state, or other entity is ineligible for the loan repayment program, unless the obligation will be completely satisfied prior to the beginning of this program.
- Professionals who are obligated under another loan or scholarship payback program, regardless of source. Once a person has fulfilled other obligations, that person may apply for a Rural Physician Loan Program. Professionals applying must meet all other eligibility requirements for a period that begins after the other obligation(s) end.
- Professionals who are delinquent on their child support payment obligation.
- Professionals who have a judgment lien against their property for a debt to the United States.
- Professionals who have a loan(s) in default status at time of application.
- Physicians who have not completed residency training programs.
- Students or residents who are not licensed and able to work full-time at an approved HPSA site at the time they apply.
- Professionals who are not working full-time (40 hours per week) at a public or nonprofit facility that treats everyone regardless of ability to pay.
Find out if you are in a Health Professional Shortage Area
Healthcare professionals can utilize the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Find Shortage Areas site to determine if their practice facility is in a HPSA or Medically Underserved Area (MUA). You can search your facility location by address, state, or country. HRSA Find provides the type of HPSA (geographic, population, or facility-based), score, HPSA type, and other details.
Participants must complete a Physician Loan Repayment Program application form providing all information requested in the application. The application should also include all additional forms requested in the application and in this policy to be considered complete (see application review checklist below). Incomplete application packets will not be considered.
The application period is now open. A maximum of two professionals per practice facility will be approved. If more than two professionals per facility apply, the facility may be contacted for additional information in the funding decision regarding the professionals from that site.
Application submission does not guarantee funding. If total applicant need is greater than the amount of Physician Loan Repayment Program funding available, the priorities indicated above will be used to determine which applicants will receive funds.
Application Submission: Online or By Mail
Submission of online application:
The 2022 application period is now open. You can upload all required documents using the online application. Note: You are unable to save your application and return back to it later. Please make sure you have all required documents needed prior to beginning the application. You can find a list of all required documents under “Application Review Checklist.”
Submission by mail:
The 2022 application period is now open. If you prefer to submit your application via mail, you can download the application. You can mail it and associated documents to the following address:
Louisiana Department of Health
ATTN: Well-Ahead Louisiana Primary Care Office
P.O. Box 3118
Baton Rouge, LA 70821-3118
Application Review Checklist
The fully completed, signed application must be submitted along with the following forms and information:
- Online application or downloadable application. Please print the downloadable application if you prefer to submit via mail.
- Copy of executed employment contract or a letter verifying employment, if an employment contract is not available
- For public employees, a letter of agreement with the governmental agency and verification of employment will be accepted in lieu of an employment contract
- Copy of current professional license
- Documentation of the current principle balance of the applicant’s certified educational debt. This should include name and account number for each loan
- Signed Release from Liability Form
- Signed Consent for Release of Information Waiver of Confidentiality Form
- Completed IRS Form W-9-Request for Taxpayer ID Number that matches applicant address (this should include YOUR information, not your employer)
- Completed Electronic Funds Transfer Form with voided blank check or direct deposit form from financial institution (the bottom of this form should be completed by your financial institution; please make sure the box on the middle left of the page is checked)
Following notification of funding and receipt of the Physician Loan Repayment Program contract in the mail, the applicant should return the signed Physician Loan Repayment Program contract with the understanding that once the contract is signed by the Secretary of LDH, or their designee, and approved through the LDH contract approval process, the applicant is agreeing to accept repayment of their educational loans in exchange for providing outpatient primary care healthcare services for an agreed upon period of obligation in a federally designated HPSA.
Note: Neither the applicant nor the State is bound by the contract until:
- The Secretary of LDH, or their designee, has signed the Physician Loan Repayment Program contract;
- The contract has been approved by the Louisiana Division of Administration, Office of State Procurement.
Service Site Requirements
Participating in Louisiana Physician Loan Repayment Program requires the provision of full-time clinical services at an eligible Physician Loan Repayment Program service site for the period agreed upon in the program contract. These sites are specific health care practice opportunities identified by the Physician Loan Repayment Program in certain federally designated health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) that have experienced special difficulty recruiting or retaining health professionals because of the site’s geographic isolation, severe economic need, or the chronically poor health status of the population to be served.
Benefits for Participants
The Physician Loan Repayment Program awards up to $30,000 annually for a five-year initial commitment. Participants who complete their original five-year commitment in compliance, remain in an eligible site in a HPSA and still have educational loans to repay may be able to extend their commitment with a two-year renewal.
Award Amounts/Length of Contracts
Award amounts are contingent upon available funding and the amount of qualifying student loan debt. LDH will contract directly with the award recipient. Payments to obligated health professionals for remittance to educational loan creditors may receive:
- Up to $30,000 annually (or the amount of the principle balance of the educational loan if less than the total eligible to receive) if the primary care physician agrees to work in an outpatient capacity at an approved facility for an initial period of five years
Participants who remain compliant and continue to meet all criteria previously stated in this application, and who have additional educational loans may be considered for a two-year extension for up to $30,000 pending budget availability.
Disbursement of Funds
Funds will be disbursed to the contractor quarterly upon receipt of loan payment verification of payment (LPV) for the Physician Loan Repayment Program funds paid the prior quarter. The LCP is due by the 15th of the month following the end of the quarter. Quarterly payments will be disbursed the 15th of the month following the due date for the duration of the Physician Loan Repayment Program contract as long as the contractor meets their service obligations under the terms of their contract and there is an unpaid loan balance.
Compensation During Service
Physician Loan Repayment Program participants shall negotiate their compensation packages (salary and fringe benefits) directly with the service sites. The amount of funding received through the Physician Loan Repayment Program should not be considered by the employer when negotiating the professional’s compensation package.
Applicants must provide lender information and a copy of loan statement(s) with current balance along with their application. The most current principle balance of each educational loan should be determined as accurately as possible and reported by the applicant on the application form. The applicant should not include loans that have been paid off. It must include the name and account number of the applicant generated by the loan institution.
Loans Eligible for Repayment
Program participants may select from their qualifying loans those they wish to have included for repayment by the program, based on what they consider most advantageous. If an applicant has consolidated or refinanced loans, the applicant must provide a copy of the original loan documentation to establish the educational purpose and contemporaneous nature of such loans. If an eligible educational loan is consolidated or refinanced with any debt other than another eligible educational loan of the applicant, no portion of the consolidated or refinanced loan will be eligible for loan repayment.
To enhance the provision of the healthcare services, the program will repay the governmental or commercial educational loans obtained by the health professional for:
- Government and commercial loans for actual costs paid for tuition related to the undergraduate or graduate education of the participant leading to a degree in the health profession in which the participant will satisfy their Physician Loan Repayment Program service commitment.
- Other reasonable educational expenses required by the health professional school, including fees, books, and laboratory expenses, incurred by the participant. Note: Reasonable educational expenses are the costs of education, exclusive of tuition, such as fees, books, supplies, clinical travel, educational equipment, and materials, which do not exceed the school’s estimated standard student budget for educational expenses for the participant’s degree program and for the year(s) of that participant’s enrollment.
- Reasonable living expenses will be determined by the Physician Loan Repayment Program office in accordance with published university standards. Health professional schools that make direct loans to their students are considered commercial lenders for the purposes of the program. Note: Reasonable living expenses are the costs of room and board, transportation, and commuting costs and other costs that do not exceed the school’s estimated standard student budget for living expenses at that school for the participant’s degree program and for the year(s) of that participant’s enrollment.
Financial Obligations Not Qualified for Repayment
Loans with no supporting documentation or loans not obtained from a government entity or certified commercial educational lending institution, e.g., loans from friends and relatives or credit card debt, are not qualified for repayment by the program.
By accepting the funds from the Physician Loan Repayment Program, applicants agree to meet the service obligations indicated in the contract. Failure to meet these requirements may result in a breach of contract and could result in financial consequences.
Obligations of the Health Professional
- To serve a minimum of five years with two additional years possible
- To provide primary health care services at an eligible facility, located in a federally designated HPSA that is appropriate for their discipline
- To provide health care services and encounters as defined:
- Provide full-time primary healthcare service or clinical practice in a public or nonprofit private entity located in a current federally designated HPSA that is appropriate for their discipline.
- For all health professionals, “full-time clinical practice” is defined as a minimum of 40 hours per week of patient care at an approved service site, with no more than eight of those hours per week devoted to practice related administrative activities. The practice will include hospital treatment coverage appropriate to meet the needs of patients of the approved service site and to ensure continuity of care.
- With the exception of obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) physicians or family practice physicians who practice obstetrics on a regular basis, all health professionals must spend at least 32 of the minimum 40 hours per week providing direct patient care. These services must be conducted during normally scheduled clinic hours at the approved service site. The remaining hours must be spent providing inpatient care to patients of the approved site or in practice-related administrative activities.
- For OB/GYN physicians, family practice physicians who practice obstetrics on a regular basis, and CNMs, at least 21 of the minimum 40 hours per week must be spent providing direct patient care. These services must be conducted during normally scheduled clinic hours at the approved service site. The remaining hours must be spent providing inpatient care to patients of the approved site or in practice-related administrative activities, not to exceed eight hours per week.
- Submit LPV with each quarter. The LPV should contain the contractor’s name and account number generated by the loan institution and should include all posted payment since the last quarter. These payments must equal the amount of Physician Loan Repayment Program funds received from the last quarter.
- Complete two surveys after contract is finished (3 months and 6 months post-contract).
- Notify Well-Ahead Louisiana’s Primary Care Office of any changes in status. This may include, but is not limited to, changes in mailing address, phone number, employment, employer policies related to target patient type, loan default status, and licensure status.
Note: The contractor must have written approval from the Louisiana Primary Care Office before relocating to another employment site.
Breaching the Contract Agreement
Physician Loan Repayment Program Contractors who fail to begin or complete their service obligation, or otherwise breach the terms and conditions of the obligation, are in default of their contract and are subject to the financial consequences outlined below. Examples of default are:
- Failure to begin or complete service term
- Failure to provide documentation of qualifying loans upon request/demand
- Failure to apply Physician Loan Repayment Program funds to either the repayment of qualifying educational loan balances
If the Contractor breaches a Physician Loan Repayment Program obligation, the contractor will be subject to pay an amount equal to the sum of the following:
- The total amount paid by the Physician Loan Repayment Program to, or on behalf of, the participant for loan repayment for any period of obligated service not served
- An amount equal to the number of months of obligated service not completed multiplied by $7,500
- Interest on the above amounts at the maximum legal prevailing rate, as determined by the treasurer of the United States, from the date of breach
Note: The minimum amount that LDH is entitled to recover will not be less than $31,000.
Cancellations, Waivers, Bankruptcy, Suspensions and Defaults
The only permissible basis for canceling a Physician Repayment Loan Program contract is the death of the Physician Loan Repayment Program participant. States cannot cancel a Physician Loan Repayment Program contract in order to allow an individual to participate in the NHSC LRP or for any other reason except the participant’s death.
Waiver of the Physician Loan Repayment Program obligation is a permanent status. In order to qualify for a waiver of the Physician Loan Repayment Program obligation, a participant must document a medical condition or a personal situation that makes compliance with the obligation permanently impossible or an extreme hardship, such that enforcement would be against equity and good conscience. The Secretary of LDH will review the documentation of this medical condition or personal situation. The Secretary is the only one who can grant a waiver of the Physician Loan Repayment Program obligation.
Suspensions of the Physician Loan Repayment Program contract obligations may be made for up to one year in the event of temporary physical or mental disability of the contractor or other justifiable causes. Documentation of the medical condition or personal situation which would make completion of the obligation temporarily impossible or an extreme hardship, such that enforcement would be against equity and good conscience, would be presented to the Secretary of LDH. The Secretary is the only one who can grant a suspension of the Physician Loan Repayment Program obligation.
Defaults occur when participants fail to begin or complete their Physician Loan Repayment Program service obligation or otherwise breach the terms and conditions of the obligation. Participants who are in default of their contracts are subject to the financial consequences outlined in their contracts and in this policy in the prior section entitled Financial Consequences.