CMS Rural Health Strategy Promotes Telehealth
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is the leading government organization that oversees and manages federal healthcare programs. In 2016, CMS established the Rural Health Council (RHC) to address the unique needs of patients and practices in rural America. Just last month, after extensive and comprehensive efforts to understand and provide solutions for these challenges, the RHC published its first Rural Health Strategy. The product of a range of listening sessions conducted with rural corporate stakeholders, beneficiaries, and medical professionals, the strategy aims to reduce obstacles to healthcare for those 1 in 5 individuals living in rural areas. Within this strategy, the RHC identifies and discusses five main areas of action that will promote this agenda, one of which is the advancement of telehealth and telemedicine.
CMS has recently begun testing multiple models of alternative health care payment and service delivery that specifically include and address known hurdles to implementing telehealth programs through their Innovation Center. Telehealth has been identified as a key strategy to improve access to health services in rural areas by tackling the concerns around transportation and lack of speciality service availability, among others. These programs include the Next Generation Accountable Care Organization Model, the Frontier Community Health Integration Project Demonstration, and the Bundled Payments for Care Initiative advanced model.
The Rural Health Strategy looks at those same concerns through the lens of rural healthcare challenges, and encourages policy changes in telehealth and other areas to improve the government’s efforts to make health care “accessible, accountable, and affordable” to all citizens.
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