New Health Strategy Places Emphasis on Rural Barriers Affecting Health Care

June 13, 2018

On May 17, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a five-objective strategy including: approaching quality measurements from a value rather than volume perspective, reducing the regulatory barriers to telehealth, and ensuring federal policies take into consideration the unique situations of rural healthcare. This will have a large impact on both the health centers around the state of Iowa, as well as the people living in rural populations who are trying to obtain the proper care they need.

In Iowa, many of our 14 health centers have locations in rural areas. Removing the barriers to permit health centers to continue to provide affordable, high quality care and allow people to be in contact with health centers is essential for people who do not live near a larger town or city that provides many ways to access health care. Telehealth removes geographic barriers for patients by allowing them to contact doctors virtually and receive some health care services without having to visit a health center location. By accessing telehealth services, patients in rural areas will have be able to access high quality care, leading to better health outcomes and fewer unnecessary Emergency Room visits. Continuing to form CMS programs and policies with a rural perspective in mind will help maintain and improve the abilities of health centers to provide care options for rural communities. Ensuring new innovations make their way to health centers in rural locations will allow more patients to be seen for various types of visits. Health centers around Iowa should be very excited about these improvements as they will lead to more patients getting high quality care no matter where they are located.