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ACOs and Rural Healthcare Providers

Improving care coordination through ACOs may help rural providers to lower healthcare costs, reduce fragmentation of care, and improve quality of care.

ACO patients are fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries that receive a majority of their services from an ACO participant. Any rural provider or supplier, such as a rural hospital, may join other Medicare providers or suppliers to form an ACO.

ACOs formed by or including Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) must adhere to provisions that are designed to increase the participation of rural providers. Data from the FQHCs and RHCs are used to assign beneficiaries to ACOs in order to measure quality and financial performance under the program.