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Feds Seek to Redefine FAR Areas

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 14, 2012

Nobody will mistake this prose for Tolstoy.

This is utterly arcane wonkery for most people, but it could be a very big deal to rural communities. The dry methodology that is eventually adopted will be used to determine appropriate levels of federal funding and grants for rural healthcare providers.

"We highly encourage anybody who could be impacted or who is considered remote or frontier to look closely at this definition and ask questions and provide content," says Susan Wilger, director of programs for the National Center for Frontier Communitie. "Is the definition appropriate? Does it need to be fixed? If it is a good definition, that is a possibility too. If it is going to have positive impacts on frontier and remote communities we want to get that feed back as well."

Right now, Wilger says rural healthcare advocates haven't come to a determination about the value of the new definition and whether or not it will help rural providers.

"We have a number of questions," Wilger says. "Our concerns fall within several areas. One is conceptual. How is this consistent with existing definitions to frontier? Is this going to be a dramatic change that could have implications if certain federal agencies adopt this definition?"

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