What exactly is a HPSA score? This score is a federal designation assigned to a geographic area, population group (such as low-income), correctional facility, state or county mental health hospital, or public or nonprofit facility that can demonstrate a shortage of health professionals in the service area. HPSAs can be created for primary medical care, dental health, or mental health. They reflect the level of provider shortage for a service area and are on a scale of 0 to 26, higher scores indicating higher relative need than lower scores.
What is the benefit of having a HPSA score? Your clinic may benefit from having a HPSA score in three ways. The first one is recruitment and retention. Your primary care physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants and Mental Health workers may be eligible to apply for loan repayment dollars through the Colorado Health Service Corps and National Health Service Corps loan repayment programs. Also by having a HPSA, you may be eligible to participate in the J-1 Visa waiver program. Secondly, your providers caring for patients on Medicare are eligible for the Medicare Incentive Program. This will provide them with a 10% monetary bonus on Medicare services billed. Lastly, if your clinic is located in a HPSA, you may be eligible to become a Certified Rural Health Clinic and receive cost-based reimbursement.
In the last few months we have seen several rural and frontier counties lose their HPSA scores. Every three years, Colorado’s State Primary Care Office (PCO) evaluates the HPSA designations in Colorado and re-assigns scores based on specific criteria. Part of the criteria that is often misinterpreted by clinics and their providers are the reporting of numbers of hours spent by providers providing direct patient care in the medical setting. It is important when submitting patient numbers to the PCO that your providers are submitting only hours spent directly caring for patients and the time spent charting and following up with those patients. Practice management, personnel management and administrative duties should not be counted. Incorrect reporting could indicate there is less need than there is in reality.
On a positive note, Gunnison County has recently been given a HPSA score! Congratulations to Dr. John Tarr at Gunnison Health Department for working tirelessly with the assistance of Colorado Rural Health Center’s Quality Improvement Specialist, Kathryn Steele, and the Primary Care Office to obtain a score for Gunnison County!
For more information on HPSA score designation, contact Kitty Stevens at the PCO at firstname.lastname@example.org, 303.692.2298.
For more information on the benefits of having a HPSA score, contact the Colorado Rural Health Center at email@example.com, 303.832.7493.