Rural health clinics (RHC) are facilities that meet the requirements of the federal Medicare RHC program and are intended to increase access to primary and preventive health care in rural areas. As federally certified RHCs, facilities must:
- Be a non-profit or for-profit clinic
- Be located in a rural (non-urban) area and in federally designated shortage area (HPSA, MUA or Governor’s Shortage Area)
- Provide routine outpatient primary care (diagnostic, therapeutic, and basic lab)
- Provide first response services for common serious injuries and acute illnesses
- Have a nurse practitioner, physician assistant or nurse midwife on-site and available to see patients 50% of the time the clinic is open for services
- Have arrangements with one or more hospitals to provide other medically necessary services
- Have a quality improvement program in place
As of March 2012, there were 54 rural health clinics in Wisconsin.
Funding Support: Eligible for cost-based reimbursement for a defined set of outpatient services provided to patients on Medicare and Medicaid; revenue from billing private insurance.
Resources for communities or facilities interested in developing a Rural Health Clinic:
- National Rural Health Clinic Association – A membership organization with information and web links for development, federal rules and guidelines, and conferences.
- Rural Assistance Center - A grant-supported non-profit organization with information and web links on RHCs, and the “Am I Rural?” tool to see if location meets federal non-urban requirement for Medicare RHC certification.
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid – Rural Health Center - Federal site with detailed federal information for RHCs.
- Wisconsin Division of Quality Assurance – State program that conducts surveys for RHC certification, has information for RHCs, and maintains official list of certified RHCs.
- Health Professional Shortage Area or Medically Underserved Area/Population designations:
- Check if an address is located in a HPSA or MUA/MUP
- Request an application for a new HPSA or MUA/MUP designation from the state primary care office.
- Consultants for RHC development and management are available - National Association of RHCs – see consultants and vendors.
- The Wisconsin Primary Care Office can also share the names of several in-state consultants (call the PCO at 608-267-7121).