Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Primary Care Shortage in the Southeast

As of September 2020, about 81 million Americans lived in over 7,200 areas or settings that had been designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) as a primary care Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). A primary care HPSA is a geographic area, population group, or facility that has poor access to basic health services because it lacks a sufficient number of primary care providers, a category that includes Doctors of Medicine (MD) or Doctors of Osteopathy (DO) who provide services as general or family practitioners, general internal medicine physicians, pediatricians, obstetricians or gynecologists. With respect to primary care, HRSA designation criteria is based upon the population within the HPSA relative to the number of primary care providers that service the area. Although the population-to-provider ratio needed to qualify for designation varies by HPSA type (geographic, population or facility), all primary care shortage areas have a population-to-provider ratio that meets or exceeds certain thresholds stipulated by federal regulations. Areas with a designated primary care shortage can participate in various federal programs aimed at attracting more primary care providers to work in these medically underserved communities. The HRSA estimates that, as of September 2020, all primary care HPSAs in the U.S. would need about 15,000 more providers to eliminate all shortage designations.

HPSAs in the twelve-state Southeast region of the country account for just over 33% of the U.S. population who live in primary care shortage areas and approximately 32% of the national shortage of primary care providers. The HRSA estimates that the Southeast region would need over 4,700 more primary care providers to eliminate the shortage that exists in the region. Here is a summary look at the primary care shortage in the Southeast:

The Primary Care Shortage in the Southeast
The Primary Care Shortage in the Southeast

State (1) HPSAs (2) Population (3) Shortage
AL 102 2,295.3 316
AR 88 647.7 93
FL 279 6,657.5 1,793
GA 234 3,202.8 636
KY 175 1,348.0 180
LA 154 2,251.2 248
MS 148 1,732.5 315
NC 189 2,028.1 323
SC 95 1,911.0 250
TN 136 2,440.5 263
VA 113 1,849.5 214
WV 105 639.4 117
Region 1,818 27,003.5 4,748
U.S. 7,203 81,516.3 14,945

(1) Designated Geographic, Population Group and Facility HPSAs with a primary care shortage
(2) Population of designated HPSAs, in thousands
(3) Primary Care practitioners needed to remove HPSA Designation

Source:  Designated HPSA Quarterly Summary, 9/30/20 (HRSA)