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Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) Designation

One major responsibility of the Alaska Primary Care Office is to recommend to the Bureau of Health Professions, Shortage Designation Branch areas and/or populations within the state that are considered to be Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). HPSAs are geographic areas and/or populations which have unmet needs for primary care, dental, and/or behavioral health services.

HPSA designations have an impact on eligibility determinations for primary care grants, special payments to providers for seeing Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, securing assistance from the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), as well as many other federal and state programs. (See the list of federal Programs Using HPSA and MUA/P Designation.)

PCO staff develops HPSA applications based upon provider to population ratios, poverty levels, geographic factors, several health status measures, and other barriers to care. Staff collect data, analyze the data, write-up report results, and then send the applications to the Shortage Designation Branch for their review and action, on behalf of communities in need.

Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) and Medically Underserved Populations (MUPs) are designated by Health Resources and Services Administration as having an insufficient number of primary care providers, high infant mortality, high poverty and/or high elderly population. 

Community Health Centers with Section 330 funding are automatically designated as HPSAs although "scoring" of the degree of shortage has not yet been fully implemented. For the most current HPSA or MUA/MUP information, please go to one of the following links: