Tag Archives: Rural Health

CMS Announces First Rural Health Strategy

 CMS has released an-agency-wide Rural Health Strategy that seeks to “better serve individuals in rural areas and avoid unintended consequences of policy and program implementation.” The Strategy has five objectives: Apply a rural lens to CMS programs and policies (e.g., apply a new checklist to relevant policies, procedures, and initiatives that impact rural communities) Improve … Continue Reading

CMS Announces Temporary Fee Schedule Increase for Certain Medical Equipment Furnished in Rural Areas

Today the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published an interim final rule with comment period that will provide a temporary Medicare rate hike for certain durable medical equipment (DME) and enteral nutrition furnished in rural and non-contiguous areas of the country (Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. territories) that are not included in competitive bidding. By … Continue Reading

GAO Highlights Barriers to Small & Rural Provider Participation in Medicare Value-Based Payment Models

CMS has developed a variety of Medicare value-based payment models that tie payments to quality and efficiency metrics, and the importance of such models to physicians will increase under the new Quality Payment Program. The Government Accountability Office cautions, however, that small and rural physician practices face a number of unique challenges when participating in … Continue Reading

President Signs “Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes Act” into Law

President Obama has signed into law S. 2873, the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes Act (ECHO Act), which is intended to use “distance health education” to improve health care, particularly in medically-underserved areas.  Specifically, this program will test “technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models” – or the use of simultaneous interactive videoconferencing to connect … Continue Reading

Committees Approve Rural Hospital Relief, ESRD Benefits, Medical Countermeasures Bills

On July 13, 2016, the Ways and Means Committee approved HR 5659, which would enable Medicare beneficiaries with end stage renal disease (ESRD) to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans. Earlier this month, the Committee approved HR 5613, to prevent CMS from enforcing a Medicare requirement for direct physician supervision of certain outpatient therapeutic services furnished … Continue Reading

MedPAC Issues Recommendations on Medicare Drug, Post-Acute Care, and Other Payment Policies

MedPAC has released its June 2016 Report to the Congress on Medicare and the Health Care Delivery System. The report includes recommendations for a number of Medicare policy reforms and analyses of various health care market developments. Several chapters address Medicare drug policy, including a review of external factors that influence the prices Medicare pays … Continue Reading

Senate Passes Rural ACO Legislation

On December 17, 2015, the Senate approved S. 2261, the Rural ACO Provider Equity Act of 2015. This legislation would modify how beneficiaries are assigned under the Medicare shared savings program by considering services furnished by federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics. The policy would apply to performance years beginning on or after … Continue Reading

Congress Clears CAH Direct Supervision Legislation

On December 8, 2015, the House of Representatives approved S. 1461, which would provide a one-year extension (through 2015) of the enforcement moratorium on supervision requirements for outpatient therapeutic services in critical access hospitals (CAH) and small rural hospitals.  The legislation, which was passed by the Senate in September, now is awaiting the President’s signature.… Continue Reading

MedPAC Meeting on Medicare Policies (Oct. 8-9)

The next Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) meeting is scheduled for October 8 -9, 2015. Topics on the agenda include: Medicare drug spending; Alternative Payment Models and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System; Medicare Advantage coding intensity, health risk assessments, benchmarks, and star ratings; and access to emergency care in rural areas.… Continue Reading

CMS Equity Plan Tackles Health Disparities

On September 8, 2015, CMS released its first “CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare,” which seeks to reduce health disparities among Medicare populations that experience disproportionately high burdens of disease, lower quality of care, and barriers accessing care. Such populations identified by CMS include: racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, people … Continue Reading

CMS Adopts PPS for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Amends CLIA Rules

CMS published a final rule on May 2, 2014 setting forth the methodology and payment rates for the new prospective payment system for FQHC services under Medicare Part B. FQHCs will transition to the new payment system beginning October 1, 2014, based on their cost reporting periods. Under the rule, Medicare generally will pay FQHCs a … Continue Reading

CMS Invites Proposals for Frontier Community Health Integration Demonstration

CMS has published a notice inviting applications for a new Frontier Community Health Integration Project Demonstration, which will test new models of integrated health care delivery in sparsely-populated rural counties with the goal of improving health outcomes and reducing Medicare expenditures. The demonstration is limited to critical access hospitals in Alaska, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and … Continue Reading

CMS Proposes Rules for Medicare FQHC PPS, CLIA Amendments

On September 23, 2013, CMS published a proposed rule that would establish the methodology and payment rates for the new Medicare Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) PPS, as mandated by the ACA. Under the proposed rule, FQHCs would be paid a single encounter-based per diem rate per Medicare beneficiary, which currently is estimated to be … Continue Reading

MedPAC Examines Medicare Benefit Redesign, Dual Eligible Policy Options

On June 15, 2012, MedPAC released its June 2012 Report to the Congress on “Medicare and the Health Care Delivery System.”  Unlike most MedPAC reports that focus on provider payments, this report examines the role of beneficiaries and their impact on the Medicare program. In particular, MedPAC recommends reforms to Medicare’s benefit design/cost-sharing structure to … Continue Reading

Rural Physician Training Grant Program

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has published an interim final rule with request for comment regarding its definition of an “underserved rural community” for purposes of the Rural Physician Training Grant Program under the Affordable Care Act. The interim final rule is effective 30 days after publication, and HRSA will accept comments on … Continue Reading
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