Journal of Rural Health 17:40-45, 2001.
The purpose of this article is to analyze state regulations regarding health maintenance organization (HMO) accreditation and external quality review; to briefly describe states’ experiences implementing these regulations; and to discuss the implications of these regulations for HMOs serving rural areas. The incorporation of HMO accreditation and external quality review requirements into state HMO licensure processes and state employee contracting raises many policy issues, including several that are especially relevant to HMOs serving rural populations. A key issue is whether the linkage of accreditation and external quality review requirements to HMO licensure will be an additional deterrent to the development of new HMOs or the expansion of existing HMOs into rural areas. Other issues relate to the costs and benefits of accreditation for HMOs serving rural populations, and the potential impact of HMO accreditation requirements on efforts to expand managed care enrollment of rural Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries and rural state employees.