Reasons Why the CMS Rural Summit Matters

Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, posted the following information describing this week’s CMS Rural Summit meeting. At TRP we know that all of the efforts being focused on rural issues are significant because rural citizens in Tennessee and across the nation are impacted by these decisions each day.

Top 5 Reasons Why the CMS Rural Summit Matters

On Wednesday, October 19th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) hosted a Rural Health Solutions Summit in their Baltimore, MD headquarters.  More than 600 rural advocates (including NRHA leadership, staff, and members) participated in this meeting.

The stated purpose of the event was to bring together stakeholders from all sectors of the health care industry to discuss opportunities to improve access to care in rural America and to support local solutions and innovations in care delivery.  Additional information about the meeting itself, including videos from the event can be found here.

1) Top of mind. The summit comes at a crucial time for rural healthcare, and this summit brought both the opportunity and the challenges of rural health delivery to the forefront of key CMS officials’ thoughts.

2) Collaboration and coordination. The agenda included a very important session, with six CMS directors sharing a common stage to discuss how they collaborate to address rural provider concerns. Collaboration within the vast CMS bureaucracy is just as important as the collaboration that occurs every day in rural communities across America.

3) Rural hospital closure crisis. The current rural hospital closure crisis was highlighted by multiple participants throughout the day. It is important to keep this crisis on the front burner for CMS officials as they propose policies that impact access to care.

4) Place matters. Not just for rural, but for CMS too. This summit took place within CMS headquarters itself, which brought the rural perspective to the doorstep of policy makers (who may not always hear the unique needs of rural communities.)

5) A new beginning. This summit signifies the national “kickoff” for the newly established CMS Rural Council. This internal advisory body, announced during the NRHA 2016 Policy Institute, serves as the voice for rural America within CMS itself. This is worthy of our support as we transition to a new Administration in 2017.

For these five reasons and more, this was not “just another CMS meeting,” but rather it was a summit of national importance to rural America.