Rural health pilot program allows for expanded SNF services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has begun a new pilot program that could bring specialized nursing services to sparsely populated rural counties.

The Frontier Community Health Integration Project Demonstration is designed to determine whether enhancing payments for certain services and additional beds will improve health outcomes and reduce Medicare expenditures in areas where critical access hospitals operate. Due to a low volume of patients, the cost of services such as telehealth and home healthcare are not covered under Medicare payment policies.  

The demo will adjust clinical reimbursement structures to reduce provider expenses, as well as  increase compensation for healthcare workers who administer care outside the CAHs, according to a fact sheet released by the CMS on Thursday. It will also allow the selected CAHs to maintain 10 inpatient beds, in addition to their currently allowed 25 beds.

The ten participating CAHs, located in Montana, Nevada and North Dakota, were chosen through an application process held by the CMS. The demonstration began on August 1 and will last three years.