Advancing Population Health in Rural Places: Key Lessons and Policy Opportunities
This paper advances policy discussion of population (defined as either a patient panel based on conditions such as diabetes, all enrolled patients, or the general community) health in rural places, with a focus on the role of rural healthcare organizations. Though the demonstration projects discussed in this report have their roots in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, there are other ways that Medicare and Medicaid are addressing population health through policy. Within Medicare, care management programs, value-based payment arrangements, supplemental benefits, and telehealth expansion all help achieve population health goals. In Medicaid, the provision of preventive services, connection to social supports, state administrative flexibility, and telehealth do the same. Based on progress thus far, future efforts to address population health in Medicare and Medicaid programs must prioritize staff and infrastructure development, flexibility in covered benefits, and further expansion of telehealth.