Approximately 60 million Americans or roughly 1 in 5 live in rural areas, with nearly every state having a rural county. CMS recognizes the significant obstacles faced by patients and providers in rural areas and places an unprecedented priority on improving the health of these Americans, including the introduction of the first Rural Health Strategy. In the last year, CMS took several steps to improve rural health:
- Expanded access to telehealth and other virtual services across the Medicare program
- Proposed to increase the wage index of rural and other low wage index hospitals through the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) proposed rule: CMS is seeking input on several approaches for accomplishing this
- Proposed to remove urban-to-rural hospital reclassifications from the calculation of the rural floor wage index value through the IPPS proposed rule
- Announced the CMS Primary Care First Initiative, a new set of payment models for primary care practices and other providers: Seeking public comment on the Direct Contracting: Geographic Population-Based Payment model option
- Developing a new innovative model for rural communities that will offer a pathway for stakeholder coalitions to invest collectively in increasing access and improving rural health care delivery
See the full text of this excerpted CMS Blog (issued May 8).