Kristi Lopez

By

College: Medicine

Kentucky Office of Rural Health Hosts State's First Rural Health Clinic Summit

Published: May 30, 2014

HAZARD, Ky. (May 30, 2014) – More than 100 participants came to Kentucky’s first Rural Health Clinic (RHC) Summit, hosted by the Kentucky Office of Rural Health (KORH) on May 16, 2014. Attendees from 28 Kentucky counties, along with a few from Tennessee and North Carolina, traveled to Hazard for a full day of networking and learning at the University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH).

 

Bill Finerfrock, executive director of the National Association of Rural Health Clinics in Washington D.C., delivered the opening keynote and provided a legislative update.  New sequester-related cuts are not expected for Medicare, though the 1.6 percent reduction in provider payment is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, said Finerfrock.

 

Kentucky’s decision to expand Medicaid coverage to the levels identified in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to 138 percent of poverty level, new and proposed rules affecting regulatory requirements and independent contractor status of mid-level practitioners, and a delay in the ICD-10 implementation to Oct. 1, 2015, were among Finerfrock’s updates.

 

Robin Rowe, with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Office of Inspector General Division of Health Care, presented on the licensure and certification process for RHCs.  Panel presentations and breakout sessions throughout the day offered participants a wide range of educational topics including, patient centered medical home, Medicaid managed care, community health workers, electronic health records, revenue cycle and more.

 

Kentucky is home to 175 RHCs, which are certified to receive special Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to help improve access to primary health care in underserved rural areas. RHCs operate with a team approach of physicians and mid-level providers for staffing.

 

“The many recent changes in health care have created significant challenges for RHCs from a number of angles,” said Ernie Scott, director of the KORH.  “We surveyed attendees to ask what they would like to see happen as a result of the RHC Summit.  Establishing an RHC network, concern about the future of RHCs, patient centered medical homes, and rural health access and growth were among the excellent feedback we can use to chart our course for a stronger future for rural health,” Scott said.

 

“We are thrilled with the level of participation and interest at this inaugural RHC Summit.  An RHC Advisory Board is in the process of being developed and KORH is optimistic about the potential of the RHC Summit continuing as an annual event,” said Scott.

 

Shelia Bowling, billing supervisor at Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky, attended the summit and said it was “informative and helpful in topics that we are currently facing.”

 

The UK CERH serves as the federally designated Kentucky Office of Rural Health (KORH), which was established in 1991 as a framework to link small rural communities with local, state and federal resources while working toward long-term solutions to rural health issues. The KORH assists clinicians, administrators and consumers to find ways to improve communications, finances and access to quality health care while insuring that funding agencies and policy makers are made aware of the needs of rural communities.

 

Some of the programs available at the KORH include Kentucky’s Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (Flex), a grant established to assist rural hospitals and improve access through critical access hospital (CAH) designation. Since the majority of CAHs have been converted, the Flex grant has evolved to support quality and performance improvement activities, financial improvement activities and the integration of emergency medical services (EMS) into rural healthcare systems.  

 

Other services of the KORH include the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant (SHIP), which provides funding to support quality improvement initiatives in small hospitals, and the Kentucky State Loan Repayment Program, which is a 50/50 matching program that increases availability of primary health care services through repayment of education loans to eligible health professionals practicing in health professional shortage areas.

 

To learn more about KORH services and technical assistance, visit www.kyruralhealth.org, or call 606-439-3557, or toll-free 855-859-2374.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Beth Bowling, beth.bowling@uky.edu, 606-439-3557, ext. 83545

 

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