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These clinics, located in rural, medically underserved areas, have a separate reimbursement structure under Medicare and Medicaid.

According to a 1977 law, these clinics are designed to address the shortage of physicians serving Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas and increase the use of advanced practitioners such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

The clinics can be permanent or mobile, and they must be able to perform six specific lab tests on-site.

The majority of hospitals that operate rural health clinics have fewer than 100 beds and 55 percent are critical access hospitals.

For more AHA data, contact the AHA Resource Center at rc@aha.org or 312-422-2050.