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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county & community efforts.

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Health Professional Shortage Designations

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The Florida Primary Care Office is the state's liaison to the federal Shortage Designation Branch (SDB) of Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

There are two types of health professional shortage designations: Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and Medically Underserved Areas or Populations (MUAs/MUPs).  Both designations consider primary care physician-to-population ratios, other high-need indicators (poverty levels, percent of the population that is elderly, and infant death rate or rate of low birth weight), and barriers to access care.

  • HPSA designations are required for the placement of health professionals under the National Health Service Corps and waiver programs for foreign physicians.
  • HPSA designations are also necessary for the location of community and migrant health centers and rural health clinics, programs that provide health care to underserved populations

Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs)

HPSAs are defined in Section 332 of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. 254e to include: (1) geographic areas, (2) population groups, and (3) facilities with shortages of health professionals.  Federal designation as a HPSA documents a shortage of health care providers (primary care, dental or mental health) as well as the existence of barriers to accessing care including lack of public transportation, travel time and distance to the next source of undesignated care, and high poverty.

Geographic HPSAs have a shortage of providers for an entire group of people within a defined geographic area

Population HPSAs have a shortage of providers for a specific group of people within a defined geographic area (e.g., low-income, migrant farm workers)

Facility HPSAs are public or non-profit private medical facilities serving a population or geographic area with a shortage of providers and include:

  • Correctional Facilities – Medium and maximum security federal and state correctional institutions and Youth detention facilities
  • State Mental Hospitals - State hospitals with a shortage of psychiatrists (mental health designations only)
  • Automatic Facility HPSAs (Auto-HPSAs) - Facilities that HRSA automatically designates as HPSAs based on statute or through regulation including:
    • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
    • FQHC Look-A-Likes (LALs)
    • Indian Health Facilities
    • IHS and Tribal Hospitals
    • Dual-funded Community Health Centers/Tribal Clinics, and
    • CMS-Certified Rural Health Clinics (RHCs)

To find out if a specific address is in a HPSA: https://data.hrsa.gov/tools/shortage-area/by-address

To find a HPSA by state/county, whether a facility has a HPSA score, or as verification that the address checked in the site above is a designated HPSA:  https://data.hrsa.gov/tools/shortage-area/hpsa-find

Medically Underserved Areas or Populations (MUAs/MUPs)

MUAs and MUPs identify geographic areas and populations with a lack of access to primary care services. These designations help establish health maintenance organizations or community health centers.

MUAs have a shortage of primary care health services within geographic areas such as:

  • a whole county;
  • a group of neighboring counties;
  • a group of urban census tracts; or
  • a group of county or civil divisions.

MUPs have a shortage of primary care health services for a specific population subset within a geographic area. These groups may face economic, cultural, or language barriers to health care.

Some examples include:

  • People experiencing homelessness
  • People who are low-income
  • People who are eligible for Medicaid
  • Native Americans
  • Migrant farmworkers

To find an MUA/P by state/county: https://data.hrsa.gov/tools/shortage-area/mua-find