10 rural hospitals to test care models increasing access for Medicare beneficiaries

Ten critical access hospitals in Montana, Nevada and North Dakota will participate in a project testing new models of integrated and coordinated care to increase care access for Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas.

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The Frontier Community Health Integration Project Demonstration, launched by the CMS Innovation Center in collaboration with the HHS Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, will test these care models in the nation's most sparsely populated rural counties over three years, CMS said.

The federal government's overall goal is to encourage the 10 participating hospitals to provide essential services that are often not financially viable in rural communities. According to CMS, the demonstration offers financial incentives for care coordination activities for local critical access hospitals to reduce unnecessary admissions and readmissions.

"Medicare beneficiaries who live in frontier areas of the country sometimes travel hundreds of miles to see a doctor. This increases the cost of care and can discourage beneficiaries from seeking treatment," Patrick Conway, MD, principal deputy administrator and CMO of CMS, said in a news release. "The effort that is beginning today will look at ways to shrink the distance between the Medicare beneficiary and the care they need."

Specifically, CMS said, the demonstration aims to:

  • support the critical access hospital and their local delivery system in keeping patients within the community who might otherwise be transferred to a provider that is far away
  • test whether payments for certain services will enhance access to care for patients, increase the integration and coordination of care among providers, and reduce avoidable hospitalizations, admissions and transfers
  • test new critical access hospital activities in skilled nursing care, telehealth and ambulance services


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