New Hampshire's State Office of Rural Health (SORH) offers technical assistance to rural health care providers and organizations and provides healthcare related information to rural healthcare stakeholders. SORH serves as a liaison between rural healthcare organizations and many DHHS programs.
In June 2008, the Governor of New Hampshire signed into law a bill that established the State Office of Rural Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. The duties are as follows:
- Link rural health and human service providers with state and federal resources.
- Seek long-term solutions to the challenges of rural health.
- Increase access to health care in rural and underserved areas of the state.
- Improve recruitment and retention of health professionals in rural areas.
- Provide technical assistance and coordination to rural communities and health organizations.
- Maintain a clearinghouse for collecting and disseminating information on rural health care issues and innovative approaches to the delivery of health care in rural areas.
- Coordinate rural health interests and activities.
- Participate in strengthening state, local, and federal partnerships.
The SORH also oversees the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (Flex), and the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP).
The Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (Flex)
The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 established the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant Program with the intent to assist rural hospitals and improve access through critical access hospital (CAH) designation. The Flex program provides funding to States for the designation of Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) in rural communities. Medicare reimburses CAHS on a reasonable cost basis for inpatient and outpatient services (including lab and qualifying ambulance services) provided to Medicare patients. Flex funding encourages the development of cooperative systems of care in rural areas -- joining together CAHs, EMS providers, clinics, and health practitioners to increase efficiencies and quality of care.
The NH Flex program focuses on three core areas:
- Support for Quality Improvement in CAHs
- Support for Operational and Financial Improvement in CAHs
- Support for Health System Development and Community Engagement, including integrating EMS in regional and local systems of care
The Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP)
The purpose of the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program (SHIP) is to help small rural hospitals of 49 beds or less, and do any or all of the following: 1) enable the purchase of equipment and/or training to help hospitals attain value-based purchasing provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), 2) aid small rural hospitals in joining or becoming accountable care organizations, or create shared savings programs per the ACA, and 3) enable small rural hospitals to purchase health information technology, equipment and/or training to comply with meaningful use, ICD-10 standards, and payment bundling.