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HHS Extends Comment Period on Proposed MUP/HPSA Rule
Date:4/21/2008

WASHINGTON, April 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Responding to public requests, HHS and the Health Resources and Services Administration have extended until May 29, 2008, the comment period on the proposed rule, "Designation of Medically Underserved Populations (MUP) and Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA)" (73 FR 11232).

A Federal Register notice dated April 21, 2008, extends the comment period and offers clarifications on aspects of the proposed rule, first published in the FR on Feb. 29, 2008 (http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/shortage/hpsafrn022908.htm).

HRSA extended the comment period in response to concerns that publication of the proposed rule has created misapprehension among health center grantees regarding their ability to meet the proposed MUP/HPSA designation criteria, in particular their eligibility for current or expanded health center funding opportunities.

The proposed rule includes three methods for making funding eligibility designations -- Tier 1, Tier 2, and Safety Net Facility. The proposed rule gives none of these three designations an advantage in determining eligibility for current, new or expanded health center funds. Entities designated under any of the three methods will be equally eligible to compete for new or expanded health center funds. Similarly, all entities under the three designations will be equally eligible to compete for National Health Service Corps (NHSC) placements.

HRSA recently updated its analysis of the impact of the proposed regulation on health centers using the most current health center data available from 2006 and found that, at most, only 16 of 1,001 health center grantees -- just 1.6 percent of the total -- would need to include state or local data to seek to maintain current designation status.

As previously stated, the proposed rule is intended to improve the way underserved areas are designated by:

-- Simplifying and consolidating two processes of determining underserved areas into one;

-- Improving the identification of areas of need; and by

-- Reducing the data reporting burden for obtaining designations.

HRSA invites comments on the issues involved in the proposed rule; the agency will respond to the comments received upon publishing the final rule.

Additional information is available at: http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/shortage.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. For more information about HRSA and its programs, visit http://www.hrsa.gov.


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SOURCE Health Resources and Services Administration
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