CMS Launches Initiative Aimed at Healthcare in Rural Communities

The goal of the program is to improve access to healthcare among Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas.

The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced its participants in an initiative to improve healthcare access for Medicare beneficiaries located in rural areas.

The program, Frontier Community Health Integration Project (FCHIP) Demonstration, includes 10 critical access hospitals (CAHs) located in Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota. The FCHIP Demonstration, will test new models of coordinated healthcare in rural counties over the next 3 years, according to a press release from the CMS.

The program will encourage the CAHs to provide services that are typically not financially viable in these communities. New services, such as skilled nursing care, telehealth, and ambulance services, which they have not participated in before, will be tested.

CAHs will also receive financial incentives for coordination activities that will prevent avoidable hospital admissions and readmissions. The program will also support the CAH, and keep patients within the community rather than transfer them to distant providers.

Improved care, higher patient satisfaction, and wise spending are all goals of this program, the CMS stated.

“Medicare beneficiaries who live in frontier areas of the country sometimes travel hundreds of miles to see a doctor. This increases the cost of care and can discourage beneficiaries from seeking treatment,” said Patrick Conway, MD, principal deputy administrator and chief medical officer at CMS. “The effort that is beginning today will look at ways to shrink the distance between the Medicare beneficiary and the care they need.”