Survey could help local medical facilities secure funding

By Clarence Plank: PNT Staff Writer

After two years of working for federal reimbursement, the Roosevelt General Hospital Rural Health Clinic in Portales and RGH’s clinic in Clovis have been approved for a survey by the New Mexico License and Certification Department. If the clinics are certified as rural-based, both are likely to receive federal money to apply toward more physicians.

James D’Agostino, RGH administrator, said Roosevelt County is a “health manpower shortage site” because the area is medically under-served to meet the needs of the community.

“What they would do if you had a rural health clinic is they would pay for the primary care visits, such as internal medicine, family care, pediatrics and obstetrician,” D’Agostino said.

The designation as a health professional shortage and medically under-served area would mean the clinic could participate in state and federal programs to receive money to bring in more physicians, according to raconline.org. The result is that the clinic could be federal certified by Medicaid and Medicare, as rural-based health clinics, and be eligible for reimbursement.

The board agreed that reimbursement money and any profit from the clinics would be put toward recruiting more doctors to meet the needs of the people, according to D’Agostino, who added the process for certification has been going on for over two years.

“It sounds easy,” he said. “We probably filed in March 2007, in October, the federal budget came up for the physical year, they didn’t have money set aside for hospital-based rural health clinics.”

The clinic then learned that the papers were misplaced and had to be re-filed. Another problem was the lack of money for rural health clinics due to the deficit.

If the surveys lead to certification, D’Agostino said that Medicare and Medicaid will give the state the go ahead to come in and inspect the clinics, billing, and policies.

“They will verify everything the regulations call for,” D’Agostino said. “They will spend about a week going through everything we say and we do.”

“All that hard work that everybody has put forth is about to be awarded,” he added.

The clinic has ten doctors and ten nurses who work between Clovis and Portales.

Clinic Administrator Tina Hill said the clinic has several different specialties, such as, internal medicine, family practice and general surgery.

“One thing the community will benefit from with the rural health clinic is that we’ll be able to provide uninsured patients, with affordable health care.

Without the extra money clinics cannot offer the programs to treat people in rural communities. Once everything has been set in motion, D’Agostino said they will be bugging the state office to come and survey them.