Serving Critical Access Hospitals and Flex Programs
Critical access hospitals (CAHs) in the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Program play an essential role in sustaining rural health care. Since 1999, the Technical Assistance and Services Center (TASC), a program of The Center, has provided information, tools and education to CAHs and to individual state Flex Programs.
Created in 1999, TASC has supported the conversion of over 1,300 prospective payment hospitals to CAH status through a cooperative agreement with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP).
To evaluate the impact of the Flex Program, FORHP also supports the Flex Monitoring Team. The Flex Monitoring Team is a consortium of three university-based rural health research centers in Minnesota, North Carolina and Maine. The Flex Monitoring Team aims to improve the accessibility, viability and quality of health care for rural residents and communities through their evaluation. Resources available include analysis summaries, state- and national-level CAH data, the national database of CAHs, presentations, findings and policy briefs on the core areas of the Flex Program.
As the majority of eligible hospitals have converted to CAH status, TASC supports the 45 participating state Flex Programs as they help CAHs in their state to do the following:
- Improve quality of care
- Stabilize and improve operational and financial process
- Develop health systems and engage the community, including integrating emergency medical systems into regional and local systems of care
- Convert hospitals to CAH status
The goal of TASC is to provide direct and timely information that is easy for Flex Programs to use. With a comprehensive network of rural health resources, TASC offers a variety of communication tools, education and technical assistance services.