Shortage Designation Program

Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA)

Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) are based on the evaluation of criteria established through federal regulation to identify geographic areas or population groups with a shortage of health providers.

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Definition of Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Area (PCHPSA)

The federal PCHPSA designation (formerly Health Manpower Shortage Areas) identifies areas as having a shortage of health care providers on the basis of availability of primary care physicians.

Criteria: To qualify for designation as a PCHPSA, an area must be:
  • A rational service area: California recognizes Medical Service Study Areas as rational service areas;
  • Population to primary care physician ratio: 3,500:1 or 3,000:1 plus population features demonstrating "unusually high need;" and
  • A lack of access to health care in surrounding areas because of excessive distance, overutilization, or access barriers.
Benefits of designation as a PCHPSA include:
  • Education loan repayment and personnel placement through the National Health Service Corps (NHSC);
  • Improved Medicare reimbursement. Physicians in geographic PCHPSAs are automatically eligible for a 10% increase in Medicare reimbursement;
  • Eligibility for Rural Health Clinic Certification (a prospective payment method designed to enhance access to primary health care in rural underserved areas);
  • Eligibility for the NHSC/State Loan Repayment Program;
  • Enhanced federal grant eligibility; and
  • Funding preference for primary care physician, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, and nurse midwife programs that provide substantial training experience in HPSAs.
Definition of Dental Health Professional Shortage Area (DHPSA)

The federal Dental HPSA designation (formerly Health Manpower Shortage Areas) identifies areas as having a shortage of dental providers on the basis of availability of dentists and dental auxiliaries.

Criteria: To qualify for designation as a DHPSA, an area must be:
  • A rational service area: California recognizes Medical Services Study Areas as rational service areas;
  • Population to general practice dentist ratio: 5,000:1 or 4,000:1 plus population features demonstrating "unusually high need;" and
  • A lack of access to dental care in surrounding areas because of excessive distance, overutilization, or access barriers.
Benefits of designation as a DHPSA include:
  • Education loan repayment and personnel placement through the National Health Service Corps (NHSC);
  • Eligibility for the NHSC/State Loan Repayment Program;
  • Scholarships for dental training in return for service in a shortage area; and
  • Funding priorities for training in general practice dentistry in programs that provide substantial training in shortage areas.
Definition of Mental Health Professional Shortage Area (MHPSA)

The federal HPSA designation (formerly Health Manpower Shortage Areas) identifies areas as having a shortage of mental health providers on the basis of availability of psychiatrist and mental health professionals.

Criteria: To qualify for designation as a MHPSA, an area must be:
  • A rational service area;
  • The population-to-core mental health professional and/or the population-to-psychiatrist ratio meet established shortage criteria; and
  • A lack of access to mental health care in surrounding areas because of excessive distance, overutilization, or access barriers.
Benefits of designation as a MHPSA include:
Definition of Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) and Medically Underserved Populations (MUPs)

Medically Underserved Areas or Medically Underserved Populations (MUAs/MUPs) are based on the evaluation of criteria established through federal regulation to identify geographic areas or population groups based on demographic data.

Criteria:

To qualify for designation, the area or population is scored on the basis of four criteria. For both MUA and MUP designation, an area with a total weighted value of 62 or less is considered eligible:

MUA designation requests
  • Percentage of population at 100% below poverty;
  • Percentage of population over > 65;
  • Infant mortality rate; and
  • Primary care physicians per 1,000 population
MUP designation requests
  • Percentage of population at 100% below poverty;
  • Percentage of population over > 65;
  • Infant mortality rate; and
  • Primary care physicians serving the low-income population (200% poverty level) per 1,000 low-income population
Benefits of a MUA/MUP designation:
  • Eligibility to develop Community Health Centers, Migrant Health Centers, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and FQHC Look-Alikes, and, Rural Health Clinic (RHC) Certification for MUAs only. The cost-based reimbursement of these programs is designed to enhance access to primary health care in medically underserved areas.
  • Enhance federal grant eligibility.
  • Medicare cap is higher

This page was last updated on Tuesday, August 2, 2016.

SDP Contacts
Hovik Khosrovian, Manager

Shortage Designation Program
Telephone: (916) 326-3734
Email: Hovik.Khosrovian@oshpd.ca.gov

Richard Creer, Program Analyst

Mental Health Shortage Designations
Telephone: (916) 326-3715
Email: Richard.Creer@oshpd.ca.gov

Bally Nagra, Program Analyst

Proactive Shortage Designations
Telephone: (916) 326-3714
Email: Baljinder.Nagra@oshpd.ca.gov

Steffi Wong, Program Analyst

Shortage Designation Program
Telephone: (916) 326-3717
Email: Steffi.Wong@oshpd.ca.gov

Matthew Ortiz, Health Program Specialist

Shortage Designation Program
Telephone: (916) 326-3745
Email: Matthew.Ortiz@oshpd.ca.gov

Elyssa Urias, Program Analyst

Shortage Designation Program
Telephone: (916) 326-3718
Email: Elyssa.Urias@oshpd.ca.gov