Many people have the impression that rural life is idyllic, and it can be. But there is also a significant amount of poverty, a high proportion of elderly, and a lack of infrastructure in rural areas. Often, older, retiring providers aren't replaced by younger physicians, therefore creating shortage areas. Although nearly 25% of the nation's population lives in rural and frontier areas, only about 10% of physicians choose to practice in these areas.
To address this disparity, the U.S. Congress passed legislation in 1977 that set criteria for the establishment of federally certified Rural Health Clinics (RHCs). Public Law 95-210 supports and encourages access to health care by rural residents. Because Rural Health Clinics receive cost-based reimbursement, providers are turning to RHC programs to be able to provide services to the rural poor and elderly.
RHC regulations distinguish between two types of clinics; independent and provider-based. The independent RHC is a free-standing practice that is not part of a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or home health agency. However, independent RHCs may be owned by one of these groups. The provider-based RHC is an integral and subordinate part of a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or home health agency operated with other departments of the provider under common licensure, governance, and professional supervision. Provider-based clinics are reimbursed as a cost center of a hospital or other provider.
The Clay City Center for Family Medicine (CCCFM) is a provider-based RHC which is part of the Union Hospital system. The CCCFM is managed by the Lugar Center for Rural Health due to the Lugar Center's focus on addressing barriers to health care access and availability for rural and underserved patients and families.
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