Health Workforce Data, Shortages and Designations

Health Workforce Data, Shortages and Designations

The Vermont Department of Health gathers data on 40+ health care professions including primary care, oral health and mental health providers. From this data, we can calculate ratios of population to provider full-time equivalents (FTEs) for each service area, identify areas of greatest need, apply for federal shortage designations and direct state resources to areas of highest need.

These designations, including health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) and medically underserved areas (MUAs), can help providers and facilities access federal and state resources to recruit and retain clinicians, convert practices, or to increase reimbursements for serving Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Find more data and statistics on many of these health professions in Vermont  Statistical reports break down demographic, FTE, location, practice type, sub-specialty, education and future plans by various geographies, including county, hospital service area and health district.

Distribution of Health Care Providers

Health care providers are not equally distributed throughout Vermont or the U.S.

Rural and remote areas across the U.S. tend to have fewer dental, mental health and primary care providers, as well as specialists. Our health workforce data allows us to compare ratios of provider FTEs to population of specific counties or groups of towns called Rational Service Areas (RSAs) to identify places of greater need for providers such as general dentists, primary care physicians, psychiatrists or other mental health professionals.

In these maps provided on this page below, darker shades indicate higher need for providers based on the most recent census for that health profession.

Shortage Designations

Medically Underserved Area (MUA) - or - Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA)

In some geographic areas, the need for providers is high enough to qualify for a federal designation such as a Medically Underserved Area (MUA) or a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) for either primary care, dental or mental health services.

Vermont currently has only a few RSAs that meet the strict federal criteria to qualify for designation as a HPSA. Designations are pending for: Chelsea-Corinth RSA, Windsor RSA, Ludlow RSA, Arlington RSA and Waitsfield RSA.

Vermont’s 60 Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) sites and 10 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) have facility-based HPSA designations based on specific criteria for their defined service areas. As with geographic HPSAs, if the need score is high enough, providers in that area may qualify for additional federal resources to help recruit and retain providers and sustain the practice in that location.

Governor-Certified Rural Shortage Area (GCRSA)

Another type of shortage designation is called the Governor-Certified Rural Shortage Area (GCRSA). This designation allows primary care providers in a designated area to be certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as a Rural Health Clinic (RHC). This certification allows reimbursement for Medicaid and Medicare patients at a higher rate than usual in exchange for accepting all patients regardless of insurance type and offering a sliding fee scale.

In Vermont, these criteria consider the ratio of providers to population, as well as rates of poverty and premature mortality. RSAs that currently qualify for GCRSA designations are Hardwick, Brighton, Newport and Castleton.

Workforce Incentives

While health care access and capacity is considered fragile in many areas of Vermont, our relatively low provider ratios limit our ability to compete for federal incentive programs such as the National Health Service Corps and NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program.

However, Vermont supports its own loan repayment programs for specific priority professions through the Area Health Education Center Network and scholarships through Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. See information on these incentives.