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Department of Health Announces Newest Participants in Rural Health Model to Ensure Pennsylvanians in Rural Areas Have Access to Care

12/10/2020

Harrisburg, PA – Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, who also serves as Chair of the Pennsylvania Rural Health Redesign Center Authority (RHRCA) Board, today announced that four more hospitals have agreed to participate in the Pennsylvania Rural Health Model (PARHM), aimed at ensuring the financial viability of hospitals in rural areas across Pennsylvania, and the latest step in transforming health care delivery in the commonwealth.

“The Rural Health Model is a transformative step that changes the financial model for hospitals in rural areas,” Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Rural hospitals are essential to the overall health of Pennsylvanians, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an important initiative to ensure that everyone across the state has access to quality health care within a reasonable distance from home.”

The Model helps ensure that rural hospitals, which are often an economic driver in rural areas, stay open, that jobs stay local and that sustainable access to health care is available to residents living in rural areas.

To support the continued evolution of this Model, the Rural Health Redesign Center Authority (RHRCA) was established in May 2020 with a dual focus—to lead continued development of the PARHM, working in partnership with the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and build solutions for rural hospitals and communities across the country to promote financial sustainability while improving the health of the populations in these communities. The RHRCA is building on lessons learned in combining payment transformation with health care delivery transformation to develop a sustainable model for community-based care, not only in Pennsylvania but across the country.

“With 17 Hospitals and six payers now in the program, the PARHM is projected to serve more than one million Pennsylvanians in rural communities in 2021 and will have approximately $725 million in net patient revenue in the global budget model,” Gary Zegiestowsky, Executive Director of the RHRCA said.  “The scale that Pennsylvania has achieved with this model provides a solid base to drive transformative change for rural health care and we are excited about the opportunity to grow the model further over the next year.  I would add our thanks to the hospitals and payers that have joined us in the journey to transform rural healthcare across the state. This program is truly about coming together to serve rural Pennsylvania.”

In March 2019, the department announced the first five hospitals participating in the model and in December 2019, announced eight more.

The four newest hospitals participating in the PARHM include:

  • Clarion Hospital, Clarion County
  • Highlands Hospital, Fayette County
  • Indiana Regional Medical Center, Indiana County
  • Meadville Medical Center, Crawford County

Many of the rural hospitals in Pennsylvania are operating with negative margins and are at risk of closure.

The current number of hospitals eligible for participation in the model is 65 based on the definition of a rural hospital developed by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. With the above 17 hospitals involved in the program, 26 percent of eligible hospitals will be participating in the program in 2021. While this is a credit to the desire of these hospitals to provide transformative care in their area, it also means there is still much work to be done to bring sustainability to rural hospitals in Pennsylvania. Eligible rural hospitals are encouraged to participate in this Model to improve population health, access and financial stability.

The Department of Health has developed three main strategies for improving health in rural communities including:

  • Transforming health care delivery in rural communities;
  • Improving the population health status in rural communities; and
  • Creating health care services that match the needs of the community.

For more information about rural health, visit the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov or www.rhrco.org, or follow the department on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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