Mar 23 -- The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Department of Health and Human Services, invites comments by April 24, 2023 regarding the Shortage Designation Management System for Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) designations and Medically Underserved Area/Medically Underserved Population (MUA/P) designations.
HRSA is committed to improving the health of the nation's underserved communities by developing, implementing, evaluating, and refining programs that strengthen the nation's health workforce. The Department of Health and Human Services relies on two federal shortage designations to identify and dedicate resources to areas and populations in greatest need of providers: Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) designations and Medically Underserved Area/Medically Underserved Population (MUA/P) designations. HPSA designations are geographic areas, population groups, and facilities that are experiencing a shortage of health professionals. The authorizing statute for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) created HPSAs to fulfill the statutory requirement that NHSC personnel be directed to areas of greatest need.
To further differentiate areas of greatest need, HRSA calculates a score for each HPSA. There are three categories of HPSAs based on health discipline: primary care, dental health, and mental health. Scores range from 1 to 25 for primary care and mental health and from 1 to 26 for dental, with higher scores indicating greater need. They are used to prioritize applications for NHSC Loan Repayment Program award funding and determine service sites eligible to receive NHSC Scholarship and Students-to-Service participants.
MUA/P designations are geographic areas, or population groups within geographic areas, that are experiencing a shortage of primary care health care services based on the Index of Medical Underservice. MUAs are designated for the entire population of a particular geographic area. MUP designations are limited to a particular subset of the population within a geographic area. Both designations were created to aid the federal government in identifying areas with healthcare workforce shortages.
As part of HRSA's cooperative agreement with the State Primary Care Offices (PCOs), the State PCOs conduct needs assessments in their states, determine what areas are eligible for designations, and submit designation applications for HRSA review via the Shortage Designation Management System (SDMS). Requests that come from other sources are referred to the PCOs for their review, concurrence, and submission via SDMS. In order to obtain a federal shortage designation for an area, population, or facility, PCOs must submit a shortage designation application through SDMS for review and approval by HRSA. Both the HPSA and MUA/P application request local, state, and national data on the population that is experiencing a shortage of health professionals and the number of health professionals relative to the population covered by the proposed designation. The information collected on the applications is used to determine which areas, populations, and facilities have qualifying shortages.
In addition, interested parties, including the Governor, the State PCO, state professional associations, etc. are notified of each designation request submitted via SDMS for their comments and recommendations.
HRSA reviews the HPSA applications submitted by the State PCOs, and—if they meet the designation eligibility criteria for the type of HPSA or MUA/P in the application—designates the HPSA or MUA/P on behalf of the Secretary. HPSAs are statutorily required to be annually reviewed and revised as necessary after initial designation to reflect current data. HPSA scores, therefore, may and do change from time to time. MUA/Ps do not have a statutorily mandated review period.
The lists of designated HPSAs are published annually in the Federal Register. In addition, lists of HPSAs are updated on the HRSA website, so that interested parties can access the information.
The information obtained from the SDMS application is used to determine which areas, populations, and facilities have critical shortages of health professionals per PCO application submission. The SDMS HPSA application and SDMS MUA/P application are used for these designation determinations. Applicants must submit a SDMS application to the HRSA Bureau of Health Workforce to obtain a federal shortage designation. The application asks for local, state, and national data required to determine the application's eligibility to obtain a federal shortage designation. In addition, applicants must enter detailed information explaining how the area, population, or facility faces a critical shortage of health professionals.
Likely Respondents: State PCOs interested in obtaining a primary care, dental, or mental HPSA designation or a MUA/P in their state.
HRSA Workforce Shortage Areas: https://bhw.hrsa.gov/workforce-shortage-areas
HRSA submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202303-0906-002
Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
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