Jan. 2, 2002
Contact: Richard Cox or Karin Meyer
Health District, 224-5209
NORTHERN LARIMER COUNTY GARNERS HPSA DESIGNATION
The federal government has determined that northern Larimer County has a
shortage of primary-care providers for low income and Medicaid patients, the
Health District announced today.
The area north of Prospect Road to the Wyoming border was designated a Health Professional Shortage Area, or HPSA, by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The designation could make it easier to attract new physicians to serve low income and Medicaid patients and help create a Federally Qualified Health Center clinic at Northside Health Center that will serve this group.
The HPSA designation means that there are not enough providers to serve the low income and Medicaid patients in northern Larimer County, which includes Wellington and Red Feather Lakes. To be designated a HPSA, it must also be demonstrated that surrounding communities, within a 30-minute drive, are unable to pick up service for these patients.
The Health District surveyed local healthcare providers on their capacity to serve low income and Medicaid patients. The ratio of low income/Medicaid patients to full-time, primary-care physician in the area was 5,100 to 1. To qualify as a HPSA, the area must have a ratio of at least 3,000 to 1.
The HPSA further demonstrates the need for a Federally Qualified Health Center, or FQHC, in northern Larimer County, said Dr. Bruce Cooper, medical director for the Health District.
"The designation makes it more likely that our community will get a FQHC, and it could potentially make it easier to attract healthcare providers to serve this clientele," Cooper said.
FQHC status is being sought for the Poudre Valley Health System-operated Northside Health Center to improve service to Medicaid and low-income patients as well as improve reimbursement.
The HPSA designation also opens the door for National Health Service Corps assistance, which offers incentives to health professionals who serve the low income and Medicaid populations. Doctors would be able to apply for up to $50,000, plus tax assistance, for repayment of qualifying educational loans in exchange for a 2-year, full-time service commitment in the HPSA. The NHSC also offers scholarship assistance to medical students who agree to serve the medically underserved for a minimum of 2 years.