DHHS → MECDC → Rural Health & Primary Care → Programs
Primary Care Office Cooperative Agreement
In addition to acting as the State Office of Rural Health, The RHPCP is Maine’s designated Primary Care Office and has been for decades. As Maine’s Primary Care Office, we work with our partners to improve primary care access and health care professional workforce availability in medically underserved communities throughout Maine. We focus on assessment for primary, dental and mental health professional workforce needs throughout the state and on directing incentives to those qualified professionals and clinics willing to care for medically underserved people in areas determined to have a provider shortage.
The Program collects and analyzes data to identify high-need areas for primary care, dental and mental health providers and works with the Shortage Designation Branch of the Bureau of Health Professions to designate Health Professional Shortage Areas and Medically Underserved Areas/Populations for Maine.
The areas identified as Health Professional Shortage Areas and/or Medically Underserved Areas or Medically Underserved Populations are eligible for certain programs and enhanced CMS reimbursement opportunities. The programs administered by this office include:
- State Loan Repayment Program;
- Rural Medical Access Program;
- Primary Care Tax Credit Certification Program;
- J-1 Waiver (Conrad 30) Program,
- National Health Service Corps promotion and support,
- 3RNet administration
Additional information regarding:
Health Care Systems and Support
State Office of Rural Health
The Maine State Office of Rural Health Grant Program provides financial resources and guidance to strengthen rural health delivery systems by serving as a main point of contact for rural health issues in Maine.
Like other Offices of Rural Health, our work focuses on three core functions:
- The collection and dissemination of information on rural health care issues, research findings and innovative approaches to the delivery of health care in rural areas;
- Coordination of rural health care activities within Maine; and
- Conducting technical assistance and educational opportunities to health care professionals, facilities, our partners, and other stakeholders throughout Maine.
Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (Flex)
The Flex Grant provides funding to states for the designation of Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) in rural communities. The CAH designation is designed to reduce the financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access to health care by keeping essential services in rural communities. To accomplish this goal, CAHs receive certain benefits, such as cost-based reimbursement for Medicare services and support to improve financial and operational outcomes, improve quality of care and the provision of rural emergency medical services.
The Flex Grant focuses on four core areas:
- Support for Quality Improvement in Critical Access Hospitals;
- Support for Operational and Financial Improvement in Critical Access Hospitals;
- Support for Health System Development and Community Engagement, including integrating Emergency Medical Services in regional and local systems of care; and
- Facilitate Conversion of Small Rural Hospitals to Critical Access Hospital status.
Only states with certified Critical Access Hospitals are eligible for the Flex Grant. Maine has 16 Critical Access Hospitals as follows:
- Blue Hill Memorial Hospital (Blue Hill)
- Bridgton Hospital (Bridgton)
- CA Dean Memorial Hospital (Greenville)
- Calais Regional Hospital(Calais)
- Down East Community Hospital (Machias)
- Houlton Regional Hospital (Houlton)
- LincolnHealth (Damariscotta)
- Mayo Regional Hospital (Dover-Foxcroft)
- Millinocket Regional Hospital (Millinocket)
- Mount Desert Island Hospital (Bar Harbor)
- Penobscot Valley Hospital (Lincoln)
- Redington-Fairview General Hospital (Skowhegan)
- Rumford Hospital (Rumford)
- Sebasticook Valley Hospital (Pittsfield)
- Stephens Memorial Hosptial (Norway)
- Waldo County General Hospital (Belfast)
Maine is unique because it brings together various networks for Chief Executive Officers, Chief Financial Officers, Quality Directors and Nurse Managers. All are comprised of Critical Access Hospital staff in specific functional roles, which determines the network in which they participate. Critical Access Hospitals come together as a group and discuss their challenges, share best practices and identify potential projects.
Maine received three awards in 2016 and 2017 from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy:
- The MBQIP Certificate of Excellence for recognition of outstanding state quality performance;
- The MBQIP Certificate of Excellence for recognition of quality performance improvement;
- Outstanding performance with quality reporting and performance with Maine’s Critical Access Hospitals.
Maine was once again honored at the 2018 Reverse Site Visit as the number one state for quality reporting.
Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program
The Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program provides financial support and guidance to rural hospitals of 49 beds or less to prepare them with the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program eligible hospitals in Maine include the 16 Critical Access Hospitals and three other hospitals as follows:
- Cary Medical Center (Caribou))
- Inland Hospital (Waterville)
- Northern Maine Medical Center (Fort Kent)
Customized educational opportunities are designed to meet hospital needs based upon assessments conducted.
Two rural health summits are also held during the year. These summits provide professional development, education and networking for multiple sectors of the rural health provider communities in Maine.