cmslogoCenters for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Health Insurance Specialist Ceilly Robl and Associate Regional Administrator John Hannigan met with SDAHO leadership at the association’s Sioux Falls office on Tuesday amid member facility visits aimed at gathering ideas and best practices in rural health care.

Hannigan and Robl shared CMS’s desire to strengthen relationships in rural states of Regions 7 and 8, advancing intentional efforts to engage in face-to-face meetings with providers and other interested parties such as SDAHO. Several salient issues were addressed, including, but not limited to:

  • The recently published advanced guidelines on civil money penalties (CMPs) to nursing homes
  • Site neutral payments for hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs)
  • Hospital star ratings and transparency with methodologies
  • The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA)
  • Transparency with quality measures
  • Workforce shortages
  • The value of telemedicine and telehealth
  • The need for flexibility for regulatory compliance in rural areas to ensure sustainable access and quality to health care in the state

Hannigan and Robl encouraged SDAHO’s ongoing participation in the CMS Rural Health Council to improve coordination and collaboration within CMS and inform future rural health policymaking. Andy Slavitt, CMS’s acting administrator, says the Rural Health Council is a strategic effort by CMS to improve access to care for all Americans in rural settings, support the economics of providing health care in rural America and ensure that the health care innovation agenda appropriately fits rural health care markets.

CMS has also reached out to several member facilities to conduct additional listening sessions and informational meetings, and members are encouraged to share their specific community stories with the CMS representatives on such topics as workforce, quality reporting, telemedicine and the influx of regulations.

The listening sessions continue our rural issues dialogue with CMS that began last December when members of the SDAHO Board of Trustees and leadership team had the opportunity to meet in Pierre with representatives from the CMS Western Consortium, Regional Office and the South Dakota Department of Health. In June, a group of rural hospital administrators that included Marshall County Healthcare Center Avera Administrator/CEO Nick Fosness met in Washington with Slavitt to share insights and discuss future trends impacting rural health care. Also that month, Erica Peterson, administrator/CEO of Sanford Chamberlain, and Jen Porter, SDAHO’s vice president of post-acute care, joined CMS representatives from the Nursing Home Survey and Certification, MDS, Nursing Home Compare and Payroll-Based Journal teams in Topeka, Kansas, for a LeadingAge Rural Summit.

CMS plans to conduct additional “listening” sessions throughout September and will hold a “solutions” summit in October (location and date TBD).