What is HPSA Designations

HPSA designations are made by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Division of Shortage Designation (DSD). An automated file of areas eligible for the HPSA bonus payment will be updated on an annual basis and will be effective for services rendered with dates of service on or after January 1 of each calendar year. Physicians may only use the AQ modifier for services furnished in an area that was designated as of December 31 of the prior year. This information can be downloaded from the HRSA Web site.

Carriers will be informed of the availability of the file and the file name via an email notice. Carriers will automatically pay bonuses for services rendered in ZIP Code areas that fully fall within a designated primary care or mental health full county HPSA; are considered to fully fall in the county based on a determination of dominance made by the United States Postal Service (USPS); or are fully within a partial county HPSA area. Should a ZIP Code fall within both a primary care and mental health HPSA, only one bonus will be paid on the service. Bonuses for mental health HPSAs will only be paid when performed by the provider specialty of 26 – psychiatry.

For services rendered in ZIP Code areas that do not fall within a designated full county HPSA; are not considered to fall within the county based on a determination of dominance made by the USPS; or are partially within a partial county HPSA, physicians must submit a AQ modifier to receive payment.

To determine whether a modifier is needed, physicians must review the information provided on the CMS Web or the HRSA Web site for HPSA designations to determine if the location where they render services is, indeed, within a HPSA bonus area. Physicians may also base the determinations on letters of designations received from HRSA. They must be prepared to provide these letters as documentation upon the request of the carrier and should verify the eligibility of their area for a bonus with their carrier before submitting services with a HPSA modifier.

For services rendered in ZIP Code areas that cannot automatically receive the bonus, it will be necessary to know the census tract of the area to determine if a bonus should be paid and a modifier submitted. Census tract data can be retrieved by visiting the U.S. Census Bureau Web site at www.Census.gov or the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) Web site at www.ffiec.gov/geocode/default.htm. Instructions on how to use these Web sites can be found on the CMS Web site at
http://new.cms.hhs.gov/HPSAPSAPhysicianBonuses. Neither CMS nor the Medicare carriers can provide information on the functionality of these Web sites

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