On February 14, Lynn Barr, Founder and Executive Chair of Caravan Health hosted a video webinar to introduce an innovative solution to help rural providers that may face challenges getting into accountable care. Lynn’s experience with rural accountable goes back to the movement’s earliest days when she founded the National Rural Accountable Care Consortium, a group of rural providers that worked together to share knowledge and build enough attributed lives to participate in federal CMS programs. 

The challenges of rural health care are well-documented – hospitals are closing at alarming rates which poses a threat to primary and specialty care access for millions of Americans. In 2019, 19 rural hospitals closed – a record high, and today, more than 450 rural hospitals are vulnerable to closure. Data from the CDC demonstrates that rural Americans die more frequently from preventable causes than their urban counterparts. One in five Americans live in a rural community and finding solutions is essential.  

Problems in rural health are made worse by exclusion from CMS quality programs and reimbursement rules. By 2021, all Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs will be enrolled in the Pathways to Success Program, which includes a faster path to risk, meaning they would have to pay back certain higher-than-expected Medicare costs within just a couple of years. However, taking on financial risk can be daunting for any provider unfamiliar with risk-based payment and next to impossible for most rural hospitals and clinics due to very slim financial margins. 

In the webinar, Lynn Barr addressed the challenges to rural health care. In addition to widespread hospital closures, rural areas experience provider shortages, long travel distances, and frequently, longer wait times than urban areas. These and other related pressures make rural providers reluctant to dive into value-based payment models without support. 

In order support these rural health systems, Caravan Health has introduced a Rural Risk-Free Solution to level the playing field. Caravan has seen rural ACOs succeed when they have the right support, like in the ACO Investment Model (AIM), and this latest initiative continues our strong connection with rural-based clinicians. 

With the Rural Risk-Free Solution, Caravan will be responsible for 100 percent of the Shared Savings Program performance risk for rural clients who participate in a Caravan-sponsored ACO. This means that now, rural clients would never have to write a check to CMS resulting from downside risk in ACO participation. This offer makes the daunting task of taking on risk far more feasible for rural providers facing this prospect for the first time. You can visit our Am I Rural? page to find out if you’re eligible. 

Addressing the challenges in rural health care can take a tremendous amount of time, effort, and creative problem-solving. Value-based care, including fundamental components such as chronic care management, can be one of the keys to a brighter future for rural health. 

Watch the Webinar Now

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