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NRHA Excluded from HPSA/MUP Committee

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently released its list of members for its Committee to update Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Population (MUP) designations. Notably absent from this list, however, is an NRHA representative.  We hope this was merely an oversight on behalf of HRSA, whose original guidance specifically included the NRHA on its list of proposed participants, which according to HRSA would "represent all types of interests likely to be affected by the rule to be negotiated." Excerpt from Page 3 of HRSA Proposed Rule 42 CFR Part 5: Designation of Medically Underserved Populations and Health Professions Shortage Areas; Intent To Form Negotiated Rulemaking Committee "III. Affected Interests and Potential Participants We are proposing to include representatives of the following interest groups and/or organizations as negotiation participants. ...(7) National Rural Health Association..." The work of this Committee, set up under the recently passed health reform legislation, will have a huge impact on the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), grants to Community Health Centers (CHCs), bonuses to physicians choosing to work in underserved areas, and many other important programs.  Whether its recommendations will produce widespread positive or negative outcomes, however, greatly rests on the organizational structure and diversity of the Committee. Though we believe each member currently named to the Committee will demonstrate extensive knowledge and expertise, we are very concerned the NRHA, the nation's largest association dedicated specifically to advocating for rural America's health care needs, will not have a seat at the table.  In fact, we believe that NRHA's exclusion will severely undermine the legitimacy of this Committee's intended goals. We urge you to contact HRSA and remind them how important ensuring HPSA and MUP designations are to supporting the unique healthcare needs of rural and underserved populations, and to therefore ask for NRHA's inclusion in the Committee's deliberations. To contact HRSA, specifically its Shortage Designation Branch (SDB), e-mail sdb@hrsa.gov or call 1-888-275-4772. (Select Option 1 for English, and then Option 2 for the SDB.) Link to Committee Appointments: http://www.hrsa.gov/about/news/pressreleases/100709shortagecommitteeappointments.html

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