HRSA's Flex Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Program
In 2010, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) launched the Flex Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Program to improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries served by critical access hospitals (CAHs). CAHs are rural community hospitals that have 25 or fewer inpatient beds, are at least 35 miles from another facility or are designated as a necessary providers, and receive cost-based reimbursement from Medicare and, in some states, Medicaid. This program helps CAHs prioritize quality measurement and improvement despite their limited resources and staff. In the post-health reform environment, CAHs may soon be compared with their urban counterparts to ensure public confidence in their quality of health services. This initiative enables CAHs to demonstrate the quality of care they provide.
Summary of Activities:
The Flex Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Program supports quality improvement initiatives through increased reporting on quality measures that are relevant to rural health care. Through expanded public reporting, the program allows for clear benchmarking of hospitals' performance and the identification of best practices. The program assists CAHs in developing their quality improvement and patient engagement efforts. The program also supports health system development and community partnerships, helping hospitals make the most of their funding and identify stakeholders to collaborate with on quality improvement activities. Currently, more than 1,200 of the 1,331 CAHs located in 45 States are voluntarily participating in the Flex Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Program, and the program continues to strive for 100 percent engagement.
Alignment to the National Quality Strategy (NQS):
These efforts promote:
- Ensuring that each person and family are engaged as partners in their care.
Evaluation for this program includes tracking CAH participation, quality improvement measures, patient satisfaction, and outcome measures for each CAH in the program. The Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Monitoring team, which is made up of the Universities of Minnesota, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Southern Maine, provides monitoring and evaluation support.
The Flex Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Program is directed by the Health Resources and Services Administration. More information is available at the National Rural Health Resource Center.