According to Sharp, the legislation will implement a technical correction to allow physicians practicing in certified rural health clinics to be eligible for incentive payments for meaningful use, e-prescribing, and the physician quality reporting initiative.
The legislation also comes with no additional cost since "physicians in rural health clinics were not excluded in the original scoring cost performed by CBO [Congressional Budget Office] for the meaningful use incentive program," Sharp says. "Thus we only needed to apply the correction so that these physicians would have an equal opportunity to attain the incentive monies already made available by the program."
Although the issue has clearly gained traction, Sharp stresses that the fight’s not over yet. "H.R. 3458 has a real chance of passage, but we need providers to continue to reach out to their Congressional members conveying their support," he says.
Rural health leaders should also see that they can affect change in a big way. There’s strength in numbers, and that strength starts with building awareness and support for issues that are important to rural healthcare and the roughly 62 million Americans who live in rural and frontier areas.
"My advice would be to reach out to your peers and make your voice heard, but don’t stop there. Take the next steps to bring awareness to your issue on the local, state, and national level," Sharp says. "I do believe there is opportunity to build a more consistent voice for rural health clinics in Washington."