Review of Health Professional Shortage Designations
The Affordable Care Act requires the Secretary to establish a comprehensive methodology and criteria for designating Medically Underserved and Health Professional Shortage Areas through a negotiated rulemaking process. Congress anticipated that use of a negotiated rulemaking process would yield a consensus among technical experts and stakeholders on the methodology for making the designations for these two Areas. The current Health Professional Shortage Area criteria date back to 1978. The current Medically Underserved Area criteria date back to 1975. The review conducted by a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee is currently underway, and the final report is targeted for late Fall 2011. HHS expects that a revised, more coordinated designation methodology and procedure for both designations would, at a minimum, define consistently the indicators used; clarify the distinctions between the two types of designations; and update both types of designation on a regular, simultaneous basis. Consistent with the statute, HHS intends to publish the consensus recommendations of the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee as an Interim Final Rule.