The Bill Finerfrock Health Policy Fellowship

Program History

The Bill Finerfrock Health Policy Fellowship Program was created in 2022 to celebrate the remarkable legacy of Mr. Bill Finerfrock. Bill was the co-founder and long-time Executive Director of the National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC) until his retirement in June 2022.

In the late 80s, as a health policy leader in the Physician Associate/Physician Assistant community Bill Finerfrock found himself receiving more and more questions about a relatively new program, the rural health clinic program. Realizing a new need had emerged in the health policy environment, Bill and co-founder Ron Nelson sketched out what a National Association of Rural Health Clinics would look like and formally created NARHC in 1991. Over the next 31 years, Bill became the pre-eminent rural health clinic policy expert and lobbyist in Washington D.C.

Early on, the RHC program faced several threats that Bill successfully thwarted. In the late 90s, States and various governors were pushing to eliminate federal mandates from the Medicaid program. One of the mandates states convinced Congress to eliminate was the requirement to pay RHCs Medicare reimbursement rates for Medicaid. However, thanks to the leadership of Bill and others, they were able to delay this policy for 3 years. Bill used that 3-year period to argue that states can do whatever they want but they should at least pay RHCs enough to cover their costs. This lead directly to the passage of “BIPA 2000” which protected RHCs and FQHCs by establishing a federal floor payment based on costs that states could not violate. Without this legislation, RHCs would have lost their enhanced Medicaid reimbursement benefit altogether.

In more recent years, Bill was architect of the RHC modernization payment changes that were passed in late 2020. This policy lifted the Medicare upper payment limit or cap from $87 in 2020 all the way to $190 by 2028. The policy also protected uncapped RHCs from devastating site neutral policies that were proposed in the President’s budget by grandfathering in all the uncapped RHCs at their 2020 rates. Ultimately, these payment changes gave the Rural Health Clinic program a sustainable and promising future.

These major legislative wins are some of the highlights, but Bill’s tireless advocacy and dedication has elevated the RHC program, once very little known and even less understood, to the point where policymakers are finally recognizing the tremendous value and potential of rural health clinics.

Bill’s noteworthy accomplishments on behalf of the organization and the entirety of the health care industry could fill pages, but his long-standing dedication to rural communities is the foundation on which this program was created.

About the Program

To celebrate his legacy, this program is designed for mid-career professionals with experience ranging from billing, coding, office management, and/or clinical care in either the RHC setting or a rural health care system. Applicants may either be current rural health professionals or have past experience in rural health and are currently pursuing additional education/training. The fellowship is a personal and professional commitment to making further impacts in rural health practice and policy.

The fellowship requires a full-time, in-person commitment for either a 4-week continuous timeframe, or two, 2-week periods in May, June, or July 2023. The selected candidate will reside in Alexandria, Virginia during the fellowship period and work within the NARHC DC Office, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m-6 p.m. Lodging and travel expenses will be fully covered by the program, and a $8,000 stipend will be provided to the fellow directly. Additionally, the selected fellow’s employer will receive a $2,000 stipend to be used as the organization sees fit in gratitude for its support of the fellow’s participation in this program.

During the program, the BFHP Fellow will:

  • Participate in NARHC advocacy meetings with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Capitol Hill staff
  • Analyze NARHC educational content for relevancy
  • Identify areas of focus for NARHC
  • Educate key policymakers on the realities of rural health

The BFHP Fellow will gain connections and learn how to be a grassroots advocate and champion for rural health. Completing the fellowship will establish the BFHP Fellow as a strong and trusted advocate for the rural health clinics program and enable the RHC or system they work for to emerge as a national leader on rural health clinic issues.

Interested candidates should possess a strong interest in health policy and a desire to deeply understand the federal legislative and regulatory process and its impact on RHCs. In addition, candidates should possess strong interpersonal and communication skills. 

Further, a successful candidate will bring a depth of knowledge about rural health and RHC operations that will educate NARHC staff and enhance NARHC’s expertise and the impact of its advocacy. The informed perspective of the fellow on the complex experiences and challenges of operating RHCs will serve as a valuable resource during and following the fellowship.

The selected fellow will be expected to remain a NARHC member for three years following their fellowship as well as serve as an active liaison between the NARHC DC office and the membership. 

Eligibility:

  • Mid-career rural health professionals
  • Current NARHC members
  • Recommended active Certified Rural Health Clinic Professional (CRHCP) certification

Current NARHC Board of Directors members and NARHC Policy Committee members will not be considered for this fellowship.

For the Employer

The National Association of Rural Health Clinics sincerely appreciates RHCs and rural health organizations support of their employees in educational advancement opportunities such as the BFHP Fellowship. This investment in your employee has the opportunity to significantly benefit your employee, organization, and rural health representation in Washington, DC.

Application Details

The application for the 2023 Bill Finerfrock Health Policy Fellowship Program, along with all supporting materials, is due by January 2, 2023 at 11:59 pm ET. Completed applications should be emailed to Sarah.Hohman@narhc.org. Interviews will be conducted in mid-January, and the selected candidate will be notified by mid-February, 2023.

The application requires two, 1-2 page essays on your interest in the fellowship and your experiences in the RHC setting, as well as supporting documents including a current resume/CV, one professional letter of recommendation, and information for two professional references.

Thank you for your interest in this program. With any questions, please contact Sarah Hohman, Director of Government Affairs, at Sarah.Hohman@narhc.org or 202-543-0348.

Download Your Application!