Physicians and medical professional shortages are well known throughout the nation. Community lack of access to surgeons is just as acute and perhaps more serious.
Researchers with the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WWAMI) Rural Health Research Center began presenting findings in 2011 showing that lack of general surgeons in rural areas means that life-critical surgeries, though less complex, are unavailable to patients in those communities. This research followed a 2009 bulletin from WWAMI that declared the lack of general surgeons to be a “crisis.”
In response to this issue, Congress set up the HPSA Surgical Incentive Payment Program (HSIP) to encourage general surgeons to begin a practice or practice more often in areas with a HPSA — or health professional shortage area.
HSIP eligibility and details can be found here. In order to receive the 10 percent bonus, general surgeons must serve Medicare patients either in or patients from a HPSA approved by the Dept. of Health and Human Services. And the bonus is eligible only on surgeries for which 10-day and 90-day global pay periods apply. The bonus has been active since 2011 and is scheduled to remain in place, nationwide through Jan. 1, 2016.