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J Rural Health. 1995 Winter;11(1):22-31.

Legislative and policy strategies for supporting rural health network development: lessons from the 103rd Congress.

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Maine Rural Health Research Center, University of Southern Maine, Portland 04103, USA.


There was considerable support in most major health reform bills considered by the 103rd Congress for the development of rural integrated service networks. The demise of comprehensive health reform, together with the pace of current market-driven changes in the health care system, suggests the need to assess the impact of specific policy strategies considered in the last Congress on rural integrated service network development. Toward this end, this article evaluates the rural health policy strategies of the major bills in relation to three essential preconditions for the development of rural integrated service networks: (1) the need for a more stable financial base for rural providers; (2) the need for administrative, service and clinical capacity to mount a successful network; and finally, (3) the need for appropriate market areas to ensure fair competition among networks and plans. Key policy strategies for supporting rural network development include reform of insurance and payment policies, expansion of targeted support and technical assistance to the underserved, limited-capacity rural areas, and policies governing purchasing groups or alliances that will ensure appropriate treatment of rural providers and networks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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