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Rural Health Policy

Regulatory Review

The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy is charged in Section 1102(b) of the Social Security Act with advising the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the effect that federal health care policies and regulations may have on rural communities. Monitoring current and proposed changes, including programs established under titles XVIII and XIX (Medicare and Medicaid), FORHP analyzes their impact on the financial viability of small rural hospitals and clinics, on the ability of rural areas to attract health professionals, and on rural areas’ access to high quality care.

Data collection and analysis is essential to understanding the challenges in rural communities, how those communities are impacted by policy, and setting policy for the future. For this reason, the work of the Rural Health Research Centers informs that of FORHP’s policy team and vice versa.

Policy Updates 

April 1

CMS Guidance to Resume Hospital Survey Activities (PDF - 265 KB)As of March 23, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is lifting the suspension on hospital survey activities, which was put in place due to the public health emergency.  Non-immediate jeopardy complaints received during the suspension period will be investigated within 45 days of the memo’s release.  Hospitals with surveys that ended after January 20, 2021 will have 10 days from the memo’s release to develop plans of correction, unless an extension is requested.

Updated Guidance on Emergency Preparedness Requirements (PDF - 832 KB) On March 26, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance interpreting the emergency preparedness requirements in the Burden Reduction Final Rule of 2019, which applies to all providers and suppliers.  In response to the public health emergency, the guidance also provides best practices, lessons learned, and planning considerations for emerging infectious diseases.

March 25

New Guidance on Rural Health Clinic (RHC) Payments (PDF - 63 KB). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new guidance on Medicare payment changes for independent and provider-based RHCs, effective April 1, 2021. 

March 4

New Guidance on COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing and VaccinationsThe U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Department of Labor, and Treasury Department issued joint guidance (PDF - 168 KB) clarifying that private group health insurance plans and issuers generally must cover COVID-19 diagnostic testing without cost sharing, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements. This guidance also includes information for providers on how to get reimbursed for COVID-19 diagnostic testing or for administering the COVID-19 vaccine to those who are uninsured.

Date Last Reviewed:  April 2021


Guide for Rural Health Care Collaboration and Coordination (2019) (PDF - 2 MB) This Guide describes how rural hospitals, community health centers, local public health departments, and other rural stakeholders can work together to assess and address their rural communities’ health needs. 

Interim Report to Congress on Frontier Health Demonstration Project (2018) (PDF - 565 KB)

Final Report to Congress on Frontier Health Demonstration Project (2020) (PDF - 345 KB) This final Report to Congress expands on the interim report, with findings from the duration of the 3-year model and recommendations for legislative and administrative action.

Note: Persons using assistive technology may not be able to fully access information in this file. For assistance, please email Kerri Cornejo or call (301) 443-4204.

Questions about Policy Updates?