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The Department of Health’s Primary Care Bureau is responsible for assessing and ensuring designation of areas of DC that have a shortage of health care providers. Areas with evidence of shortages are designated by the federal government as Health Professional Shortage Areas and/or Medically Underserved Areas/Populations.
HPSAs and MUA/Ps are used by the Federal government to recognize shortages of health care providers for geographic areas, populations or facilities and to prioritize the allocation of Federal and local resources to address these shortages. MUA/Ps refer only to primary (medical) care shortages. HPSAs can refer to shortages in any of three disciplines: primary (medical) care, mental health and dental, and a single area can be designated as a HPSA for one, two or all three of the disciplines.
A shortage designation can refer to a gross shortage of providers available to the overall population in an area (i.e. a “geographic” HPSA or MUA) or a net shortage of providers available to a specific population that faces economic, cultural or linguistic barriers to health care in an area (i.e. a “population” HPSA or MUP).
DC has nine designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) and eight Medically Underserved Areas\Populations (MUA\P). Six areas of the District are designated as primary care HPSAs, two areas are designated as dental HPSAs and one area is designated as a mental health HPSA. For a complete list of the District’s shortage designations – including name, type, scores - please visit the Related Resources at the bottom of this page.
To determine if your practice is located in a HPSA or MUA, visit HPSAFind.hrsa.gov and search for designations by address. To be eligible for HPSA and MUA/P based programs, a practice must provide services that correspond to the specific discipline (i.e. primary care, dental or mental health) and population (e.g. homeless, low-income/Medicaid) for which the area in which the practice is located is designated.
Programs in DC that rely on HPSA designations include DC’s Health Professional Loan Repayment, the J-1 Visa Waiver Program, the National Health Service Corps and the Medicare Incentive Payment Program.
MUAs/MUPs are used as the basis of eligibility for the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and FQHC Look-Alike programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration.
HPSAs must be renewed by the Primary Care Bureau every three to five years. Renewals and new applications require the collection of extensive information on providers practicing in the District. Any entity interested in designating new areas or facilities as HPSAs should contact the Primary Care Bureau.