The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh/Achieva Leads Advocacy for Underserved Population Designation


The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh/Achieva Leads Advocacy for Underserved Population Designation

The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh/Achieva has a long history of demonstrating and advocating for ways to promote healthcare equity for people with disabilities. Recently, its attention has turned to specific changes in policy that would help release funding to Pennsylvania to reduce or eliminate disparities. 

In the United States when populations face health inequities and disparities, like people with disabilities do, the federal government has some tools to help. Mainly, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) can provide a designation to a group so that more federal funds are available to address disparities. One designation is called “Medically Underserved Area/Population.” But to get this designation, 30% of the population must live in the same geographic area. Because of that, the population of people with disabilities can never qualify for the designation. People with disabilities are diverse. They do not all live in one area; but are everywhere and in every community. 

The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh, recognizing the need for more funds to address healthcare disparities for people with disabilities, is working on an alternative to the HRSA designation. Its advocacy is focused on a different option called “Governor’s Exceptional Medically Underserved Population” (EMUP). With this option, the Governor of a state can request the EMUP status from the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Requests are often granted. When requests are granted, federal funding can be released to fund:
  • ¾ Grants to support primary care services
  • ¾ Grants for research
  • ¾ Funding to train medical, behavioral, and dental professionals
  • ¾ Payment incentives for federally qualified health centers to serve the population

Pennsylvanians with disabilities still face hardships when trying to access adequate healthcare, especially for routine screenings. An EMUP designation would increase access to federal funding for care, research, training, recruitment, loan repayment, and provider incentive payments. All these options are needed to encourage more providers to accept public insurance and provide care to people with disabilities. 

To learn more about these advocacy efforts, contact Vanessa Rastovic, Policy Manager for the Disability Healthcare Initiative for The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh/Achieva at 412-995-5000 Ext. 569 or email

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