This week, Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) introduced the bipartisan Rural Health Clinic Fairness Act, H.R. 986. Legislation that would help keep rural healthcare affordable and allow seniors to continue to receive high quality care from Rural Health Clinics (RHC). The legislation closes a loophole that prevents RHC's from being eligible for Electronic Health Record (EHR) incentive payments through the Medicare program. This eligibility is already given to larger hospitals and physicians throughout Illinois and rest of the country. This discrepancy in the system means RHC's could be penalized by having to absorb more of the costs when treating Medicare patients in rural areas.
"Rural health clinics are a tremendous asset to our communities in Illinois. The 18th district alone is home to 29 RHC's, which means thousands of seniors - in my district alone - are at risk of seeing their healthcare costs rise if action is not taken soon to close this loophole," said Schock. "This legislation fixes a flaw in the system and places RHC's on a level playing field within our health care system and ensures rural health clinics continue to offer affordable and high quality medical services for seniors."
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) are the entity charged with the development of EHR user criteria. RHC's were created to address physician understaffing in rural areas and improve access to primary care services. They use a team-based approach of physicians and midlevel medical providers, such as Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants, to provide a variety of health care services in rural communities throughout Illinois.