The ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Interim Location Determinations for CMS Rural Health Clinics

In response to a change in the way the Census Bureau defines rural and urban areas, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an interim process for determining locations of new Rural Health Clinics. For now, CMS will use the 2010 and 2020 Census urban criteria when determining rural location, and locations meeting either standard will be eligible.  The 2010 criteria defined two types of urban areas: 1) urbanized areas with a population of 50,000 or more; and 2) urban clusters with at least 2,500 but fewer than 50,000 people. So under the 2010 criteria, a rural location is one that is not in an urbanized area but might be in an urban cluster. Under the 2020 criteria, the Census Bureau no longer subdivides urban areas by population size so all developed areas are simply called urban areas – and housing densitynot population, is the primary determining factor. The population is still considered at the lower end: the minimum population for an urban area designation increased from 2,500 people to 5,000 people or at least 2,000 housing units. The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy is housed in a different agency (HRSA) under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and uses different measures to define rural for its grant programs.  Learn more details about eligibility for FORHP grants on the HRSA website.