CMS Launches Rural Health Strategy

CMS recently launched the agency’s first Rural Health Strategy to help improve access to high quality affordable healthcare in rural communities. The new rural strategy includes reducing regulatory burdens and empowering patients and providers to make more informed decisions about their healthcare.

CMS strategy also will help to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic. The initial objective will be to look at policymaking program design and strategic planning to promote health equity among all populations served by CMS.

One objective is to advance telehealth and telemedicine. To help promote the use of telehealth, CMS will seek to reduce barriers for stakeholders. These barriers concern reimbursement, cross-state licensure issues, and the administrative and financial burdens occurring when implementing telemedicine in rural communities.

Another CMS objective is to develop partnerships with stakeholders nationally, as well as at the regional, state, and local levels. CMS is going to start by exploring opportunities with the Office of the National Coordinator and other federal partners to promote interoperability of health information and to increase the use of EHRs among individuals, their providers, and care teams.

CMS is also going to work with federal and state partners to understand and evaluate the impact of CMS programs on rural communities and develop recommendations to present to health plan representatives so they will increase their participation especially in rural areas.

CMS is going to work with CDC to increase the focus on maternal health, behavioral health, substance abuse, and the integration of behavioral health and primary care.

The plan is also to work with state Medicaid agencies and other state partners to advance rural health strategies for Medicaid eligible individuals, including people with disabilities, dual-eligible beneficiaries, and people with substance use disorders.

To help empower patients in rural communities to make decisions related to their own health, CMS has plans to use existing rural communication networks to provide information and IT tools needed to engage patient’s in their healthcare.

To specifically accomplish these goals, CMS will collaborate with rural communications networks to develop and disseminate easy-to-understand materials and support the further development of the health IT infrastructure.


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