Rural Health

Rural Health
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CMS recognizes that more than 61 million Americans live in rural areas including rural, Tribal, frontier, and geographically isolated territories. These Americans face several unique challenges in health care that can differ dramatically among the different kinds of rural areas across the country. Rural residents tend to be older and in poorer health than their urban counterparts, and rural communities often face challenges with access to care, financial viability, and the important link between health care and economic development.

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CMS Framework for Advancing Health Care in Rural, Tribal and Geographically Isolated Communities (PDF)

CMS recognizes the need to apply a community-informed geographic lens to its policymaking, program design, and strategic planning processes to promote health equity and ensure those residing in rural, tribal, and geographically isolated communities are able to meet their health and health care needs. Listening session participants from across the country and federal partners emphasized the importance of engaging individuals with lived experience receiving or supporting the delivery of health care services in rural areas to better understand their needs and the impacts of CMS programs and policies in these areas. Thus, CMS seeks to ensure the perspectives of members from rural, tribal, and geographically isolated communities–and those serving these communities–are reflected in discussions and policy considerations as CMS works to improve health care quality, outcomes, and access. This Framework outlines 6 priority areas for how CMS will continuously focus these efforts.

Read the Rural Health Equity One-Pager (PDF)

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Rural-Urban Disparities in Health Care in Medicare 2023 (PDF)

This report describes rural-urban differences in health care experiences and clinical care received nationally in 2022. In addition to comparing the quality of care delivered to rural and urban Medicare enrollees overall, the report looks at how these differences vary by race and ethnicity.

Read the 2022 Rural-Urban Disparities in Health Care in Medicare (PDF) report

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Rural Health Council

In 2016, CMS established the Rural Health Council to address three strategic aspects:

  • Improving access to care for Americans living in rural settings;
  • Supporting the unique economics of providing health care in rural America; and
  • Ensuring that the health care innovation agenda fits rural health care markets.

With support from the Rural Health Council, CMS has led efforts to engage stakeholders, particularly those serving rural areas, in all three focus areas. In October 2016, the Council hosted the first Rural Health Solutions Summit to encourage dialogue about how CMS policies and programs affect rural communities. CMS continues to engage stakeholders through its Rural Health Open Door Forums, which address issues affecting Rural Health Clinics, Critical Access Hospitals, and Federally Qualified Health Centers. CMS also has Rural Health Coordinators within each Regional Office who provide technical, policy, and operational assistance on rural health issues

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Rural Maternal Health Care

A key objective of the CMS Rural Health Strategy is to leverage partnerships with stakeholders nationally, as well as at the regional, state, and local levels. One component in accomplishing this is working closely with partners and stakeholders to raise awareness on maternal health and access to care in rural communities. This section contains resources related to improving maternal health outcomes in rural communities.

Featured Resources

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Stay Connected

Sign up for opportunities and reach out to our CMS Rural Health Coordinators. To receive the latest news on rural health care policy and programs, sign up for the rural health listserv.

Page Last Modified:
12/18/2023 09:51 AM