The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) held a two-hour webcast on April 21, 20202, to mark the release of a new rural health policy report. This latest report is an update of its previous report. It has some new perspectives reflecting experiences of rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new report can be read here: BPC_Rural-Health-Care-Report – 2020.
There are multiple payment-related recommendations in the new report which would affect CAHs, RHCs and FQHCs. Many of these recommendations could become the basis of future COVID-19 relief legislation.
During the webcast Rural Health Task Force members provided their individual perspectives on the challenges facing rural health care. Many of the policy positions were shared by Task Force members:
- The need for payment reforms is emphasized by the BPC Task Force. Many of these are incremental changes, though there is great interest in the global payment approach being explored in PA.
- There is a strong shared sentiment that many hospitals need to transition to a smaller, reduced service operation. This sentiment is embodied in the Task Force recommendation for the establishment of a new CMS hospital designation – the Rural Emergency and Outpatient Hospital (REO). Transition of hospitals to the new model would be accomplished through a community-wide transformation planning process to be supported with Federal funds.
- The Task Force also sees a potential role for FQHCs and RHCs that might wish to expand services into the inpatient arena. This would be permitted under a new Extended Rural Services (ERS) Program.
- The Task Force looks for payment reforms and expanded workforce training programs to address the need to improve access to maternal care in rural areas.
- Multiple rural health workforce program expansions are recommended. These include expansions of the J-1 Visa Waiver program and rural training track program, New support programs – including rural provider tax credit programs modeled after successful OR and NM programs – are also recommended.
- A variety of recommendations related to rural broadband and telehealth expansions are presented.
- The need for rural relevant quality measurement and performance monitoring is recognized in the report.
BPC recommendations, if implemented, may lead to an expansion of SORH activities. The REO and ERS programs would require planning efforts which could easily be coordinated with SORH participation.
For those interested in hearing the full webcast, check the following link: