Rural Health Clinics

What is a Rural Health Clinic?

In 1977, Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) were established to address the shortage of physicians serving patients with Medicare in rural areas. The establishment of RHCs would also help to increase the utilization of non-physician providers, including Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Physician Assistants (PA-Cs), and Certified Nurse Midwifes (CNMs), in rural areas. Rural Health Clinics are federally designated through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

RHCs must be located in a non-urbanized area per U.S. Census Bureau definitions while also falling within a Primary Care Geographic Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA), a Primary Care Population-Group HPSA, a Medically Underserved Area (MUA), or a Governor-designated and Secretary-certified shortage area.

Rural Health Clinics may be provider based (linked to a hospital) or independent (stand-alone). RHCs receive reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid services through an All-Inclusive Rate (AIR) and in most circumstances the clinic may only be reimbursed for one encounter, per patient, per day. A cost report must be filed annually.

Rural Health Clinic Locations

The primary focus of the practice must be primary care services. A non-physician provider must furnish patient care services at least 50 percent of the time. At least one non-physician provider must be employed by the RHC. RHCs are required to furnish six basic laboratory tests on site. For locations and more information on RHCs, visit the links below.

Oral Health in Rural Health Clinics

In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers, the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health has developed the following resources for Rural Health Clinics interested in offering dental services with Public Health Dental Hygiene Practitioners.

Fast Facts – PHDHPs in RHCs and FQHCs

PHDHPs in FQHCs and RHCs

Additional Resources