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Feds Seek to Redefine FAR Areas

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 14, 2012

When it comes to monitoring the smorgasbord of healthcare mandates from the federal government, rural providers already have a full plate.

There are questions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that include the future status of funding for critical access hospitals, expansion of the Medicaid rolls, how—and if—the health insurance exchanges will function, and who gets what under bundled payments for coordinated care.

From now until Jan. 7, 2013 the Department of Health and Human Services is asking for public comment on the methodology used to determine what exactly constitutes a Frontier and Remote (FAR) area.

Here's a snippet from the six pages of dust-dry verbiage filed Nov. 5 in the Federal Registry: "Using data from the Census Bureau, every census tract in the United States is assigned a (Rural-Urban Commuting Area) code. Codes range from 1 through 10, with 23 sub codes, with code 1 representing the most densely populated urban areas and code 10 representing rural areas with primary commuting to a tract outside an Urbanized Area or Cluster."

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