How Do Medically Underserved Areas Impact Your Physician Recruitment and Retention Plan?

WHAT IS A MEDICALLY UNDERSERVED AREA?

Designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Medically Underserved Areas (MUP) and Medically Underserved Populations (MUP) represent geographic areas and populations with a lack of access to primary care services. An MUA may include a whole county, a group of counties, specific census tracts, or county or civil divisions. An MUP reflects a specific population subset within a geographic area. The population may face economic, cultural, or language barriers to care. In some instances when unusual circumstances prevent access to primary care, a population may be classified as an Exceptional Medically Underserved Population.

MEDICALLY UNDERSERVED AREAS AND POPULATIONS WITHIN THE U.S.

PROGRAMS BENEFITTING MEDICALLY UNDERSERVED AREAS

An MUA or MUP designation can be used to determine eligibility for specific state or federal programs that are intended to increase access to care. At the organizational level, designation impacts eligibility for the federal Health Center Program and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Rural Health Clinic Program.
At the physician level, assistance in recruiting and retaining providers is available when the patient population served is classified as an MUA or MUP. J-1 Visa waivers issued by states or the federal government can enable facilities located within MUAs or serving MUPs to recruit foreign medical graduates to fill vacant positions. Additionally, physicians who work within medically underserved communities may be eligible for certain federal or state loan repayment programs like National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program.

RULES AND REGULATIONS RELATED TO MEDICALLY UNDERSERVED AREAS

Anti-Kickback Statute

Payments made to an investor (i.e., a return-on-investment or interest payment) from an entity within a medically underserved area may fall under the investment interests safe harbor if specific standards are met.

Stark Law Exceptions

Exceptions related to obstetrical malpractice insurance subsidies and retention payments to physicians reference medically underserved area requirements.

ABOUT CARNAHAN GROUP

Carnahan Group, Inc. is an innovative healthcare advisory firm that leverages its expertise and technology to drive compliance improvements and cost reductions for some of the nation’s largest healthcare organizations. For almost two decades, Carnahan Group has served the healthcare industry by providing physician compensation and business valuations, Community Health Needs Assessments, and other strategic services.

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