Rural clinics welcome fix in Medicare change that left some out

White notebook with the word Medicare printed on it, surrounded by a stethescope.

Kentucky’s rural health clinics say they welcome a recent fix to a Medicare payment change that was made unexpectedly in the American Rescue Plan Act, the pandemic relief bill passed in December.

ARPA increased the payment limit for rural health clinic visits to $100, from $87.52, starting April 1, 2021, but excluded “hundreds of clinics nationwide that were established after December 2019, as well as clinics that were in the ‘mid-build’ phase, Liz Carey reports for The Daily Yonder.

The legislation amended the law to include “any qualified rural health clinic that was in existence, in ‘mid-build’, or that had either submitted an application or had a binding written agreement with an outside unrelated party for the construction, purchase, lease or other establishment of such a rural health clinic prior to December 31, 2020.”

The House added the measure to another bill that delays until next year “a planned cut to Medicare that would have affected all health care providers,” Carey reports. The Senate expanded the fix to include “entities that submitted applications to become a rural health clinic prior to December 31.” The law took effect April 14.

David Bolt, CEO of Kentucky Primary Care Association, welcomed it. “Our Rural Health Clinic members provide invaluable services and resources to residents who live in medically underserved areas,” he said. “Dedicated funding sources for the RHC’s are essential, especially as they navigate the Covid-19 pandemic while they continue to serve vulnerable patient populations.”
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