Topics: Policy

For more information and resources, see the Rural Health Policy topic guide.

Rural Health Clinic Program at 45 Years: Created for Access and Still Delivering Care

front entrance of a Rural Health Clinic


After a 1965 public law created the Medicare and Medicaid programs, many rural residents insured by these government health programs were unable to access care. This challenge was remedied by another public law: the Rural Health Clinic Services Act of 1977. Using a historical framework, rural health policy experts, researchers, and clinicians reviewed the Act’s impact on outpatient healthcare delivery in rural America.

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October 26, 2022

A Career of Influencing Rural Healthcare Delivery: Bill Finerfrock and the NARHC Origin Story

Bill Finerfrock.


Over 5,200 rural organizations participate in the Rural Health Clinics program, a reimbursement model dedicated to rural low-volume healthcare delivery and now in its 45th year. The National Association of Rural Health Clinics — in its 30th year — is a membership organization that emerged as the program increased its participants. Bill Finerfrock, association cofounder and its recently retired executive director, shared the group’s origin story as well as touchpoints from his own career.

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October 26, 2022

“It’s the relationships”: Q&A with Peggy Broussard Wheeler

Peggy Broussard Wheeler


Peggy Broussard Wheeler, Vice President of Policy at the California Hospital Association, discusses the challenges that the hospitals in her state and nationwide have faced before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also shares rural hospitals’ unique strengths and the importance of collaboration and relationships.

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January 19, 2022

Understanding the “Tool-ish-ness” of Telehealth: Q&A with Dr. Jonathan Neufeld

Dr. Jonathan Neufeld


Clinical psychologist and program director for the Great Plains Telehealth Resource & Assistance Center, Dr. Jonathan Neufeld, clarifies telehealth as an “enabler” of healthcare delivery. Emphasizing that telehealth is only a set of telecommunication tools, he details how the unique use and flexibility of these tools by skilled providers can bring quality care and impact rural health equity.

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December 8, 2021

Understanding the Rural Swing Bed: More than Just a Reimbursement Policy

patient getting blood pressure checked


“Swing bed” is that oft-heard phrase describing not a physical hospital bed, but post-acute care for the rural patient who is well enough to leave the acute care hospital but not well enough to be safe at home. In this 2-part story, experts and hospital administrators review the swing bed program’s historical implementation and provide stories and examples of the value this over 40-year-old healthcare delivery and reimbursement model brings to patients, to the hospitals providing their care, and ultimately to rural communities.

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August 11, 2021

History of the Swing Bed: A Look Through the Rural Rearview Mirror


The healthcare delivery model known as the swing bed program has allowed rural and Critical Access Hospitals to serve patients by keeping them in their rural communities for post-acute care. Reviewing the history of this program, experts describe early implementation and key program elements that have sustained its success for over 40 years.

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August 11, 2021

Still Stealing Rural America’s Breath: An Update on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

image of trees shaped as lungs with text COPD: Still Stealing Rural America's Breath


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a condition that continues to steal rural America’s breath. Researchers, philanthropists, and healthcare professionals talk about new rural research efforts and the impact of COVID-19 on COPD. Also discussed is the importance of pulmonary rehabilitation, an impactful treatment long known to improve quality of life and now backed by new research proving it decreases death rates in select patients.

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June 16, 2021

Advance Care Planning: New Realities in Times of COVID-19

ICU patient


Advance care planning — planning for decision-making in times of medical crisis — has always been intended for all people, all ages, with or without a chronic disease. Clinicians talk about the challenges of these conversations now that COVID-19 has nudged planning from the realm of the theoretical future to current reality.

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July 15, 2020