I think we made some progress yesterday toward developing new proposals for Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Areas (MUA) designation. Some colleagues on the committee don't agree!...but hey, as the Eagles said, "you got to go through Hell before you get to Heaven"....
In all seriousness, we have begun to grapple with the hard issues of data sets, units of analysis and the like. This morning we will continue our discussion of special populations and designation methods for such designations. Examples of current special-designation populations are homeless, low income, migrant populations, and HIV-positive individuals. An issue that is inherent with special-population designation is the lack of data that describe such groups.
Update, 11am: Good and interesting discussion of special population designation issues. I have learned a lot in the last 90 minutes, especially from Patrick Rock, Exec Dir. of the Minneapolis Indian Health Board, who gave the clearest explanation I have heard of how the various initiatives of the Indian Health Service and its constituent components work together, and how HPSA designation currently overlays with these providers.
Update, 12:45pm: moving into discussion of counting supply of primary care providers. Issues include what type of docs count as primary care, how to count medical residents (in terms of FTE), how to consider federal resources such as National Health Service Corps providers, etc., whether/how to count non-physician primary care providers (NP, PA, CNM), and what data sources are used to count providers.
Update, 2:15pm: continuing with presentation on data sources and estimation approaches for primary care providers.
Update, 3:00pm: wrapping up the data/supply discussion and moving to the public comment section. We have added a sub-committee to consider designation issues related to special populations, and will continue with our data/technical subcommittee that will try and push ahead with testing some various data options for consideration by the full committee at the January meeting. Public comment period is next.
All in all, a productive meeting. We are making progress.