Baton Rouge --- The Louisiana Department of Health was notified today it is receiving a $15 million grant to provide incentives to try and lure primary care physicians and other health care professionals back to the New Orleans area.

Provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Greater New Orleans - Health Service Corps grant will provide up to $110,000 in incentive payments to primary care doctors and other health care professionals who relocate to New Orleans or the surrounding areas.

"Rebuilding the health care workforce in the New Orleans region is critical to rebuilding an effective health care system," said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise. "This program provides a wonderful opportunity for health professionals to come back to New Orleans and contribute to the rebuilding of the area’s health care infrastructure."

Under the LDH grant, if physicians and other health professionals commit to providing three years of full-time professional health care services in the Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines or St. Bernard parishes, they will be eligible for loan repayments, sign-on bonuses, malpractice premium payments, relocation expenses, health information technology continuing education expenses and income guarantees.

Family practice, general practice, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, pediatrics and general psychiatry physicians will be eligible for payments from the grant program. In addition to medical doctors, the program will assist dentists, family practice physician assistants, certified nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, registered clinical dental hygienists, licensed clinical or counseling psychologists, psychiatric nurse specialists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers and licensed pharmacists.

The incentive payments are not unlimited. Physicians, psychiatrists and dentists may receive up to $110,000; mid-level providers may receive up to $55,000 and pharmacists may receive up to $50,000. Providers also may customize a package of incentives. Incentives packages could include up to $110,000 in loan repayment or income guarantees, up to $40,000 for sign-on bonuses or malpractice premium payments, up to $20,000 for relocation expenses and up to $10,000 for health information technology continuing education expenses.

According to program guidelines, participants must provide services in a federally designated health professional shortage area to all patients regardless of ability to pay. Participants also must accept Medicare and Medicaid patients, have a sliding fee-scale for low income, uninsured patients and be U.S. citizens licensed to practice in Louisiana. Additionally, health professionals currently practicing in a health professional shortage area in another region of the state will not be eligible.

Applications will be accepted beginning March 30, 2007, and will be available at