Texas Medical Shortage Area Designations

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The Mission of the Texas Primary Care Office (TPCO):

To improve the health of Texans who live in underserved areas through timely and accurate assessment, planning, and assistance, to increase access to primary care providers of medical, dental, and mental health services.

Shortage Area Designations

The TPCO submits applications for shortage designation to the US Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for the state of Texas.  Programs that increase access to primary care utilize federal shortage area designations for eligibility to apply and/or for prioritizing applications. 

TPCO staff members will assist providers and clinic administrators in determining what the current designation is for an area, what designation is needed for participation in a program and whether an area qualifies for designation.

Below are frequently asked questions about shortage designations.  For further questions or to request that an area be examined to see if it qualifies for designation, contact TPCO at TexasPCO@dshs.state.tx.us or (512) 776-7518.

Shortage Area Designations Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA)?
  2. What is a Medically Underserved Area (MUA)?
  3. Who uses shortage area designations?
  4. How do I find out if my area or facility is a designated shortage area?
  5. Is there a HPSA Designation Process?

1. What is a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA)?

Shortage designations are used to identify areas that lack providers.  The designation serves to identify areas that are eligible to participate in programs designed to assist in recruiting providers to the area.  Originally created in 1978 to identify areas in need of physicians and other health care providers from HHS’s National Health Service Corps (NHSC) programs, HPSA designation is now used by a variety of federal programs. 

Shortage designations are based on the ratio of providers to population, plus additional criteria and guidelines specific to each of the three types of designations: 

  • Primary Care
  • Dental Health
  • Mental Health

Within each discipline for HPSAs, there are three types of designation status:

  • Geographic Area
  • Population ( or Demographic)
  • Facility (or Institutional)

More information on HPSA criteria can be found here: 

Primary Care:  http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/shortage/hpsas/designationcriteria/primarycarehpsaoverview.html

Dental:  http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/shortage/hpsas/designationcriteria/dentalhpsaoverview.html

Mental Health:  http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/shortage/hpsas/designationcriteria/mentalhealthhpsaoverview.html

2. What is a Medically Underserved Area (MUA)?

Medically Underserved Areas/Populations (MUA/P) are areas or populations designated by the HRSA as having:  too few primary care providers, high infant mortality, high poverty and/or high elderly population.  

More information on MUA/P criteria can be found here: 

http://www.hrsa.gov/shortage/mua/index.html

3. Who uses shortage area designations?

Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Areas/Populations (MUA/P)  are used to identify areas that lack providers or services.  The designations serve to identify areas that are eligible to participate in programs designed to improve access.  Below are the federal programs and the required designation status. 

Shortage Area Designations

Program

Benefit

Required Designation

National Health Service Corps

Scholarship, loan repayment

HPSA

Medicare Incentive Program

10% bonus on Medicare Part B

Geographic HPSA

Certification as a Rural Health Clinic (RHC)

Cost-based reimbursement

HPSA or MUA

Federal Health Center program (FQHC)

Federal grant funding, Cost-based reimbursement

MUA/P

J-1 Visa Waiver/National Interest Waiver Physicians

Recruitment of physicians

HPSA or MUA

Please note that the designation is required for eligibility to apply; in most cases additional applications are required.  Contact the PCO for more information on how to apply for participation in these programs.

By E-mail: TexasPCO@dshs.state.tx.us
By Telephone: (512) 776-7518
Fax: (512) 776-7658

4. How do I find out if my area or facility is a designated shortage area?

The HRSA data warehouse shows the current status for all shortage designated areas.  The list of shortage areas is available on-line and is the official source for updates shortage designation status.

http://hpsafind.hrsa.gov

http://muafind.hrsa.gov

5. Is there a HPSA Designation Process?

Population and Geographic HPSA Designation

The TPCO submits applications for all the geographic and population shortage designations in the state.  TPCO also submits HPSA updates and responds to requests for new designations. Once the TPCO has completed the necessary data collection and analysis, if an area is determined to meet HPSA criteria, the request is submitted to the federal agency.  The federal agency reviews all HPSA designation application requests before the designation is made final.  This process can take up to six months.

If you have questions about a shortage designation update or a new designation, contact the TPCO.

Facility HPSA Designation

Facility designations follow a slightly different process and it varies by facility type.  If you have questions about a facility designation, contact the TPCO. 

By E-mail: TexasPCO@dshs.state.tx.us
By Telephone: (512) 776-7518
Fax: (512) 776-7658



Last updated August 20, 2013