Rural Health Clinics (RHC) were established by Public Law 95-210, Rural Health Clinic Service Act in 1977. Rural Health Clinics serve to increase primary care access for Medicaid and Medicare patients in rural communities and must be located in a Health Professional Shortage Area and/or a Medically Underserved Area/Population. Clinics may be operated as a public, private, or non-profit. The advantage of becoming a certified Rural Health Clinic is to receive enhanced reimbursement rates for providing Medicaid and Medicare services in rural areas.
If you are interested in becoming certified as a Rural Health Clinic, please refer to the Health Facility Licensing, Certification and Resident Assessment. The clinic is required to use a team approach of physicians working with non-physician providers such as nurse practitioners (NP), physician assistants (PA), and certified nurse midwives (CNM) to provide services. The clinic must be staffed at least 50% of the time with a NP, PA, or CNM. RHCs are required to provide outpatient primary care services and basic laboratory services.
Governor’s Certified Shortage Areas
RHCs must be located in non-urbanized areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau; however, there is no restriction on how closely RHCs can be located to one another. You can use RHIhub’s Am I Rural? tool as a first step to see if your location qualifies.
RHCs must also be located in a shortage or underserved area that has been designated within the last four years by the Health Resources and Services Administration. There are four types of shortage areas that qualify:
- Geographic-Based Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs)
- Population-Group (HPSAs)
- Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs)
- Governor’s Certified Shortage Area (GCSAs)
In Utah, all thirteen frontier counties are GCSAs as well as the other rural counties based on the approved methodology attached here.
Rural Health Clinic Training Video Series
Wisconsin Office of Rural Health RHC Training Video Series
- Who do I contact if I have questions regarding the development and ongoing management of RHCs?
- How do I get certified as an RHC?
- Are there any other considerations before becoming an RHC?
- What is the difference between a provider-based RHC and an independent RHC?
- Are there location requirements for RHCs?
- If a location loses its non-urbanized area and/or shortage designation, is it possible to remain a Rural Health Clinic?
- Does an RHC have to be recertified?
- Are there special staffing requirements for RHCs?
- What resources are available to help RHCs maintain their primary care workforce?
- How does Medicare reimburse RHCs?
- How do states reimburse RHCs for Medicaid?
- How does the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) affect RHCs?
- Can Rural Health Clinics be certified as Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs)?
- Can RHCs join Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)?
- What is the difference between a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and a Rural Health Clinic (RHC)?
- What are the demographics and most common medical characteristics of RHC Medicare patients?
Rural Health Clinics Research Topics
- RHIhub Topic Guide on RHCs
- National Association of Rural Health Clinics
- RHC Committee Education Module