CMS Adds Two Reports on Rural Health

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published two reports on rural health care, including the annual report on rural health accomplishments: Improving Health in Rural Communities: FY 2021 Year in Review as well as CMS recognizes the more than 57 million Americans who live in rural areas and face several unique challenges that can differ dramatically among the different kinds of rural areas across the country. These reports will assist in identifying and addressing some of these challenges.

Improving Health in Rural Communities: FY 2021 Year in Review

In its annual report, CMS demonstrates its commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of individuals living and working in rural areas. Rural, frontier, tribal, and island communities face structural barriers to achieving equitable health outcomes, including practitioner shortages, hospital closures, and long travel distances to access care. CMS is committed to working with rural communities to address these barriers and build on existing advancements to achieve optimal outcomes for all rural Americans.

Through its Rural Health Strategy, CMS is working with federal partners, community organizations, and Tribes to achieve equity in access to care, quality of care, and health outcomes for rural individuals.

The activities and accomplishments outlined represent CMS’s commitment to designing programs and policies that affect rural, frontier, and tribal communities in fiscal year (FY) 2021. They are presented across 10 focus areas: the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); the Federally Facilitated and State Marketplaces; Medicare Payment and Policy; Practitioner Workforce; Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program Enrollment, Payment, and Policy; Long-Term Services and Supports; Maternal Health; Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders; Models and Demonstrations; and Quality and Equity.

Examining Rural Hospital Bypass for Outpatient Services

CMS has also recently published a report on rural hospital bypass. This report provides an overview of a study, which sought to explore the drivers of rural hospital bypass for outpatient services. This national mixed methods study explores the relationship between hospital outpatient services and inpatient utilization to address the extent of rural hospital bypass, patient characteristics, and utilization of outpatient services.

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Paid for by the US Department of Health and Human Services.