Rural Health & Human Services
Top Stories

Top news stories from the past 60 days.

A Hospital's Main Strategy - Survival
Mar 6, 2015 - Highlights the financial pressures on both urban and rural hospitals in Georgia. Survival has become the main focus of many hospitals, especially in rural communities with 4 of the 5 Georgian hospitals closures since 2013 being rural facilities.
Source: Georgia Health News
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HRSA: Advisory Committee on Interdisciplinary, Community-Based Linkages, Notice for Request for Nominations Federal Register
Mar 6, 2015 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is seeking nominations for the Advisory Committee on Interdisciplinary, Community-Based Linkages (ACICBL). HRSA has a stated special interest in balancing professionals from both urban and rural areas on this committee.
Source: Federal Register
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LGBT People in Rural Areas Struggle to Find Good Medical Care
Mar 5, 2015 - Discusses the lack of legal structure, healthcare access, and general physician knowledge to support the needs of the LGBT community living in rural areas, with a focus on Nebraska.
Source: CNN
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Practicing Rural Health Care Right Here at Home
Mar 5, 2015 - Describes the efforts of a residency program in Hendersonville, North Carolina, that is preparing primary care physicians to serve in rural parts of the state. Highlights the challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned in addressing primary care workforce shortages.
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MIT Rural Health Care 'Hackathon' on Agenda in Missoula
Mar 4, 2015 - Describes what a 'hackathon' is and why the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is sending a team to Missoula, Montana to facilitate it. Outlines the event, speakers, and its aim to solve rural health challenges.
Source: The Missoulian
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Federal Primary-Care Program for Underserved Areas is at Risk Despite Successes
Mar 3, 2015 - Highlights the impact of not funding the Teaching Health Centers (THC) program, which will happen if Congress does not extend support, on underserved and rural areas that rely on the program as a supply of primary care doctors.
Source: Modern Healthcare
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Sen. Moran Introduces Bill to Support Rural Hospitals
Mar 2, 2015 - Describes a recently introduced Senate bill aiming to extend the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration for five years. A companion bill was introduced in the House last month.
Source: Office of U.S. Senator Moran
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Tom Vilsack Announces Projects To Fight Child Hunger
Mar 2, 2015 - Describes a new funding initiative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support five rural demonstration projects to address child poverty and hunger.
Source: Huffington Post
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When Health Care Is Far From Home
Mar 2, 2015 - Describes the plight of rural Hayfork, California after years of population loss and the eventual closures of the only clinic and pharmacy for miles around. Includes perspectives from local residents on how less access to healthcare has affected their quality of life.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Lawmakers Press Veterans Affairs for Improved Access to Rural Health Care
Mar 1, 2015 - Describes efforts by lawmakers pushing the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand access to healthcare for veterans through broader interpretation of the eligibility requirements of the Veterans Choice Act.
Source: Trib Total Media
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CMS: Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicare, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance Programs; Renewal of the Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education (APOE) and Request for Nominations Federal Register
Feb 27, 2015 - Announces the renewal of the Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education (APOE) and seeks nominations to serve on the panel from a variety of fields, including a critical need for those with expertise in rural health, behavioral health, aging, tribal affairs, and more.
Source: Federal Register
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King v. Burwell: What a Subsidy Shutdown Could Mean for Health Care Providers
Feb 26, 2015 - Outlines what the King v. Burwell Supreme Court ruling could mean for healthcare providers, with special consideration concerning rural healthcare providers and rural health facilities.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund
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House Subcommittees Hold Hearings on FY 2016 HHS Budget
Feb 26, 2015 - Describes a meeting of U.S. House of Representative Committee on Appropriations in which the president's fiscal year 2016 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services was discussed. Highlights conversation around a proposed cut of Critical Access Hospital (CAH) funding and elimination of the CAH status for some rural hospitals.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Congress Urged to Protect Hospital Care
Feb 26, 2015 - Reports efforts of hospital leaders urging members of Congress to consider their needs. Briefly mentions the impacts of some legislative changes on Critical Access Hospitals and other rural facilities.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Nebraska Eyes Medicaid 'Redesign' Bill to Close Coverage Gap
Feb 26, 2015 - Describes a bill presented to the Nebraska State Senate that offers a new approach to redesigning Medicaid Services within the state after two previously failed attempts. Mentions arguments in favor of Medicaid redesign because of its anticipated impact on rural residents.
Source: Associated Press via The State
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Mississippi Emerges as Leader in Telemedicine
Feb 26, 2015 - Reports Mississippi's success in becoming a leader in telehealth service provision. Highlights the impact telemedicine services are having on rural healthcare facilities.
Source: Politico
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Four Rural Hospitals in High-Tech Pilot Program
Feb 24, 2015 - Provides more details to Georgia Governor Deal's rural health reform plan, including identification of four hospitals that will serve as the 'hubs' in a 'hub and spoke' system. Explains the relationship these 'hub' facilities will have with other rural healthcare facilities, prioritizing a reliance on telehealth technologies.
Source: The Telegraph
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New Online Resource Showcases the Historic Legacy of Community Health Centers
Feb 23, 2015 - Announces a new online resource celebrating 50 years since the implementation of Community Health Centers across the United States. Features a video, interactive timeline, and infographics telling the history and legacy of the program.
Source: The National Association of Community Health Centers
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Helmsley Trust Boosts American Indian Public Health Program
Feb 23, 2015 - A gift from the Helmsley Charitable Trust and the state of North Dakota has created more scholarship opportunities for students enrolled in the North Dakota Master of Public Health program at the North Dakota State University. The program is touted as the only program in the country designed specifically to prepare graduates to work with public health for Native American populations.
Source: Sun Herald
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Nathan Deal’s Plan to Save Struggling Rural Hospitals
Feb 23, 2015 - Describes a recently released report from Georgia's Office of the Governor which calls for a new rural healthcare structure to help stabilize hospitals under stress. It includes recommendations for a "hub and spoke" model and to expand the scope of work for nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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With Rural Doctors in Short Supply, Minnesota Lawmakers Consider More Financial Incentives
Feb 20, 2015 - Among consideration to expand state funding for loan repayment for recent graduates, this article highlights the advantages of financial incentives for newly graduated physicians to practice in rural areas throughout Minnesota from the perspective of both the physician and the law makers.
Source: Star Tribune
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Hospital Leaders Urge Congress to Protect Rural Health Care
Feb 19, 2015 - Highlights a message from rural hospital leaders urging congress to protect their small and rural hospitals during the American Hospital Association's Rural Healthcare Leadership Conference.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Telehealth Could Help Poor, Rural Counties like Hancock
Feb 19, 2015 - Discusses the capabilities of telehealth services in extending access and improving quality of care in rural communities in Georgia.
Source: The Telegraph
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Rural Hospitals Shutting Down at Alarming Rates
Feb 18, 2015 - A video report that interviews the people most affected by rural hospital closures in Georgia to highlight the severity of and the reasons for the problem. Discusses some solutions at both the state and local levels that are currently being exercised.
Source: Al Jazeera America
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HUD Announces More than $650 Million in Indian Housing Block Grants
Feb 18, 2015 - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced $651 million to 586 Native American tribes through the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG). Lists the recipients and explains the aims of the program.
Source: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
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Rural, Safety Net Hospital Advocates Join Drug Pricing Fray
Feb 18, 2015 - Describes an ongoing discussion around some rural hospitals' and cancer hospitals' inclusion in the 340B pharmaceutical program and the addition of advocates for rural, safety net hospitals to those voicing their opinion on the issue.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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Stanford Study Shows Rural Disadvantages Under Obamacare
Feb 18, 2015 - Summarizes findings of a recent Standford study that concludes rural residents have fewer and more expensive choices through health insurance markets made available through the Affordable Care Act.
Source: Stanford News Service
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Reed Wants Rural Hospital Funding Made Permanent
Feb 17, 2015 - Reports U.S Representative Tom Reed's support for two key federal programs that help rural hospitals and his opinion to permanently fund them. Describes the benefits to establishing permanent funding for both the Medicare Dependent and Low-Volume Hospital programs.
Source: The Leader
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It Was Meant to Reduce Wait times, but Veterans Say New Choice Cards Are Causing More Problems
Feb 16, 2015 - Describes problems experienced by veterans and doctors when trying to use the new "Choice Card" program to receive care closer to home. Troubles include both a miscommunication on how distance requirements are set and confusion around which veterans are eligible for the program.
Source: The Washington Post
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Dying Rural Hospitals Affect Most Vulnerable
Feb 14, 2015 - Describes the national trend of rural hospital closures due to financial stress while highlighting their severe impact of the most vulnerable population. Tells this story through the example of Upshur County, Texas, due to a recent rural hospital closure and the impact of it in that community.
Source: Tyler Morning Telegraph
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Advanced Primary Care Initiatives
Feb 13, 2015 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking comment on initiatives to test new approaches to advanced primary care. Advanced primary care is based on principles of the Patient Centered Medical Home.
Source: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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CMS: Announcement of Ruling: Implementing United States v. Windsor for Purposes of Entitlement and Enrollment in Medicare Hospital Insurance and Supplementary Medical Insurance Federal Register
Feb 13, 2015 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released a notice of a ruling that broadens the definition of marriage as it pertains to Medicare programs. Marital status is relevant to some Medicare entitlements, premiums, benefits, and enrollment provisions. This ruling provides binding CMS policy for the application of these provisions in the context of a same-sex marriage.
Source: Federal Register
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Iowa State Researchers Urge Rural States to Prepare for Aging
Feb 11, 2015 - Reports the findings of a recent study claiming that elders in rural areas are at risk due to an inadequacy in availability of healthcare services. Comments on services available to rural aging people both nationally and within Iowa specifically.
Source: Iowa State University
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Veterans Choice Program Webinar
Feb 11, 2015 - The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will be hosting a Veterans Choice Program Webinar consisting of a presentation of the new program, which expands access to healthcare to thousands of veterans by allowing them to receive care from non-VA healthcare providers.
Source: Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
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Facing Layoffs And Closures, Rural Hospitals Push For Medicaid Expansion
Feb 11, 2015 - Describes challenges faced by healthcare facilities located in rural Missouri in the face of federal payment reductions. Highlights a current debate concerning the impact of Medicaid expansion on these financial challenges.
Source: Kansas City Public Media
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Time for Rural Leaders to Speak Up
Feb 11, 2015 - Discusses timely policy concerns for rural healthcare providers with the associate administrator of the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Tom Morris. Covers a variety of important topics including the 340B program, direct supervision for outpatient therapy and more.
Source: Hospitals & Health Networks
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Revived Walden Bill Seeks Fair Rural Air Ambulance Rates
Feb 10, 2015 - Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., has reintroduced a bill aimed to preserve emergency care throughout rural America by providing fair payment to ambulance service providers.
Source: KTVZ
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How Do State Regulations Impact the Nation’s Nurse Practitioner Workforce?
Feb 10, 2015 - Outlines a new research plan to examine how the nurse practitioner workforce is spread across the nation, with particular focus on underserved populations and communities in both rural and urban areas.
Source: University of Rochester Medical Center
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How Rural Hospitals Can Work to Maintain Independence
Feb 10, 2015 - Discusses the transition from a fee-for-service to a value-based payment model for rural hospitals. Offers strategies to a successful transition while maintaining independence.
Source: Hospitals & Health Networks
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Rural Physician Practice EHR Adoption Surpasses Urban Areas
Feb 9, 2015 - Reports the findings of an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, concluding that electronic health record (EHR) adoption rate is higher among rural physicians. Discusses the findings of a 2012 survey of office-based physician practices and offers reasons for the higher adoption rate in rural facilities.
Source: EHR Intelligence
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Health Care Access 'Doctors Up' Local Economies
Feb 6, 2015 - Discusses the importance of the healthcare industry to local economies throughout Kansas, particularly noting its impact on small and rural communities. Summarizes the economic impact of a hospital in a rural town as representing as much as 10 to 15 percent of the entire economy.
Source: Midwest Producer
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Counties Find a "Roadmap" Useful When Working Across Jurisdictions
Feb 5, 2015 - Reports on a network of six counties in Colorado that are taking a team approach to healthcare throughout their communities. Cross-jurisdictional sharing (CJS) is an emerging model of collaboration that is gaining recognition and funding from the likes of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, among others. This article explains this Colorado application of CJS in more detail.
Source: National Association of Counties
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Legislation Would Extend Add-on Payments for Rural Ambulance Providers
Feb 5, 2015 - Summarizes recently introduced legislation intended to extend add-on payment for ambulance services in rural areas that are set to expire at the end of March.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Critical Access Hospitals Lag in Meaningful Use Attestation
Feb 5, 2015 - Highlights a disparity in meaningful use attestation rates between Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and other facilities. Drawing on HealthIT.gov data and a recent Health Affairs report, the article highlights the finding that despite high rates of electronic health record implementation, meaningful use attestation rates continue to lag behind for CAHs.
Source: EHR Intelligence
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Rural and Independent Hospitals: Going It Alone or Teaming Up?
Feb 5, 2015 - Examines independent rural hospitals, including why they remain independent and how partnering helps them remain viable.
Source: Hospitals & Health Networks
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Metrics and Analytics Pose Different Challenges for Rural Hospitals
Feb 5, 2015 - Discusses the importance of tracking revenues and costs for small rural hospitals, particularly as reimbursement systems change and uncertainty remains regarding extensions of Federal programs related to rural hospitals.
Source: Healthcare Finance News
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Rural Hospitals Join Forces to Access ACO Incentives
Feb 4, 2015 - Features the National Rural Accountable Care Consortium and how it is helping critical access hospitals take advantage of new opportunities and models of care delivery.
Source: RevCycleIntelligence.com
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Legislation Would Extend Rural Community Hospital Demonstration
Feb 4, 2015 - Rep. Don Young (R-AK) has introduced the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Extension Act, which would extend the current demonstration program for five years, allowing rural hospitals with fewer than 51 beds to continue testing the feasibility of cost-based reimbursement.
Source: AHA News
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UNM’s Newest MOOC Tackles Rural Health Care
Feb 3, 2015 - The University of New Mexico has announced a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Rural Health Nursing. The course will deal with creating unique and culturally appropriate solutions for improving health for rural residents when resources are limited.
Source: University of New Mexico
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Small Town Mayor Pleads with Washington to Save Rural Hospitals
Feb 3, 2015 - Belhaven, North Carolina, Mayor Adam O’Neal has already walked 273 miles to Washington, D.C., to protest the closure of his town’s only hospital. Now, he wants to do it again, and is asking members of the National Rural Health Association to join him.
Source: U.S. News and World Report
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President's 2016 Budget: Selected Resources and Reactions
Feb 3, 2015 - President Obama released his 2016 budget proposal on February 2nd which outlines the Administration’s suggested priorities for Congress as they work to put forth a 2016 Federal budget to be enacted October 1st. Here are some useful links to access official budget documents, as well as selected reactions from the field.
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Specialist Doctors Head for Exit as U.S. Shifts Payments
Feb 1, 2015 - Discusses the federal government's move toward value-based healthcare purchasing and how that is impacting the provision of specialty care. Includes concerns that access to rural specialty care may be adversely affected as small practices close and the physicians go to work for larger organizations.
Source: Bloomberg Business
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HUD-VA Program That Serves Homeless Veterans to Expand into Native American Communities for the First Time
Jan 30, 2015 - The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have announced the expansion of the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program to serve homeless veterans living on or near tribal lands. The program combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services from the VA.
Source: US Department of Housing and Urban Development
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The Decline of the Rural American Hospital and How to Reverse It
Jan 30, 2015 - Describes the merits of telemedicine in rural communities, helping to increase access and quality of healthcare while lowering costs to healthcare facilities.
Source: Harvard Business Review
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FCC Finds U.S. Broadband Deployment Not Keeping Pace
Jan 29, 2015 - The Federal Communications Commission has released a statement describing the status of broadband, finding a deficiency in the rate of deployment - especially in rural areas.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
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CMS Intends to Modify Requirements for Meaningful Use
Jan 29, 2015 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced its intention to allow for more flexibility within their Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program beginning in 2015. The article explains how this change is expected to lessen the burden on providers.
Source: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Insurance Choices Dwindle In Rural California As Blue Shield Pulls Back
Jan 29, 2015 - Reports on the limited health insurance provider options in rural California, especially through the State sponsored marketplace. Places the blame of reduced insurance coverage options on companies pulling out of rural markets after the advent of the Affordable Care Act.
Source: National Public Radio
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Rural America's Silent Housing Crisis
Jan 28, 2015 - Describes the need for safe and affordable housing in rural America and links housing to healthcare outcomes through a personal story of a Virginia woman.
Source: The Atlantic
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Designing More Efficient Critical Access Hospitals
Jan 28, 2015 - Describes how architectural redesign of Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) can improve efficiency and patient care quality while improving the facility's budget. Discusses maximizing staff efficiencies, making maintenance self-sufficient, catering to outpatients, improving patient experience, and emphasizing administration adaptation.
Source: Healthcare Design
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Pharmacist Provider Status Bill Reintroduced in House
Jan 28, 2015 - Describes a bipartisan bill that has been reintroduced in Congress, the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, which would have the Medicare program cover state-authorized pharmacist services. Includes comments on the bill from the American Society of Health‑System Pharmacists.
Source: American Society of Health‑System Pharmacists
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VA Steps Up Programs As More Veterans Enter Hospice Care
Jan 28, 2015 - Describes efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to educate veterans on existing end-of-life care resources in a hope to increase utilization rate of services such as community hospices. Details an initiative of the VA and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization called We Honor Veterans, aimed to help civilian hospice workers ask the right questions.
Source: National Public Radio
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How to Keep Rural Hospitals Alive — Key Thoughts from Michigan Rural Healthcare Preservation Inc., Michigan Clinic CEO Ethan Lipkind
Jan 28, 2015 - Provides a list of strategies for rural hospitals to implement that are aimed to abate the risk of facility closure in a changing healthcare environment. Describes a three-prong approach that includes fostering and building relationships, improving operational efficiencies, and unifying healthcare facilities in their respective region.
Source: Becker's Hospital Review
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Belhaven, Vidant Agree to Facility
Jan 28, 2015 - Describes progress made toward reestablishing healthcare access in and around the rural town of Belhaven, North Carolina, after the local hospital was closed due to financial pressures in 2014. Provides details about a plan to expedite building permits to begin construction on a new multispecialty healthcare facility.
Source: The Daily Reflector
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Senate Bill Introduced to Remove 96-hour Certification Requirement for CAHs
Jan 27, 2015 - Describes a bipartisan bill aimed to adjust a current Medicare requirement of Critical Access Hospitals to certify that patients admitted will be discharged or transferred to another healthcare facility within 96 hours.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Rural Hospital Closures Are a Clear Danger
Jan 27, 2015 - This opinion article draws attention to the trend of closing rural hospitals across the country and the impact it has on rural residents; highlighting an imminent Colorado hospital closure. Offers reasons for this trend and some common practices that are being implemented to prevent closures, including development of innovative healthcare delivery models, partnerships with larger healthcare systems, and stand alone emergency room facilities.
Source: The Denver Post
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Moran Introduces Legislation to Preserve Rural Therapy Care
Jan 27, 2015 - A new bill, the Protecting Access to Rural Therapy Services (PARTS) Act, has been introduced in the Senate aimed to loosen regulatory requirements on rural hospitals administering outpatient therapeutic services. This article explains the current regulations, the bill's proposal, and how it is believed to increase healthcare services in rural communities.
Source: The Kansas City Kansan
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CMS and Indiana Agree on Medicaid Expansion
Jan 27, 2015 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator and the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary have announced that Indiana has become the 28th state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. This press release provides details on the agreement and the Healthy Indiana Plan.
Source: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Progress Towards Achieving Better Care, Smarter Spending, Healthier People
Jan 26, 2015 - The Department of Health and Human Services has released a statement outlining goals and a timeline that will shift Medicare payments from volume to value. Outlines the stated goals and their anticipated impact.
Source: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Streamlining Medic Training for Vets Aim of Senate Bill
Jan 26, 2015 - Describes bipartisan legislation that has been introduced in the U.S. Congress aimed to streamline civilian paramedic training for veterans of war who already have emergency medical experience. The Veterans to Paramedics Transition Act aims to help veterans put their skills to work domestically as well as address a gap in emergency medical services in rural communities across the nation.
Source: EMS1
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Rethinking Rural Hospitals With Lessons From The Battlefield
Jan 22, 2015 - Forbes opinion piece suggests that a military model of healthcare provision would be a good fit for rural hospitals amidst a changing healthcare environment. The model's suggestion involves stabilizing and transporting patients with life-threatening conditions to a larger facility rather than treating them on-site, while maintaining routine care services on-site.
Source: Forbes
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In Rural Areas, Public Nursing Homes Close One By One
Jan 22, 2015 - Draws attention to financial challenges being faced by rural nursing homes due to increasing expenses and decreasing reimbursements, which has been creating more reliance on Medicaid reimbursements. This article focuses on the Northwest region of the country, but acknowledges that these trends can be seen across the nation.
Source: Northwest Public Radio
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SGR: Work Resumes on Elusive 'Doc Fix'
Jan 22, 2015 - Describes Congressional agreement on the need to replace the Sustainable Growth Rate formula (SGR) formula, which was stablished in 1997 and is set to expire at the end of March, 2015. Congress with revisit this issue this week.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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HHS: Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines Federal Register
Jan 22, 2015 - The Department of Health and Human Services has updated the poverty guidelines adjusting them on the basis of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The poverty guidelines are used as an eligibility criterion by the Community Services Block Grant program and a number of other Federal programs.
Source: Federal Register
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UI Researchers Study Rural Access to Health Care Specialties
Jan 21, 2015 - University of Iowa researchers are conducting an ongoing series of studies aimed to accurately determine the level of access to specialty healthcare providers in rural areas of the state. This article reports the unanticipated conclusion that these services may be more accessible than originally thought, depending on local implementation of new healthcare reform measures.
Source: The University of Iowa
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Virginia Doctor Tries Truck-Stop Medicine to Keep Family Practice Alive
Jan 19, 2015 - Describes an innovative way of providing healthcare to truck drivers who often find no other time to receive the care they need. This doctor provides care at a rural truck stop in Virginia and, using health information technology, can send along any test results for healthcare recommendations to the driver's next stop. It's a unique approach to healthcare provision that is treating a hard to access population while bringing financial security to his small, rural practice.
Source: The Washington Post
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Telehealth Progress Requires Beefed up Network Infrastructure
Jan 19, 2015 - Describes the progress made by the Department of Veterans Affairs in expanding healthcare access to rural and underserved areas via telemedicine but says that internet access in rural areas is holding its full impact back.
Source: Federal Times
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Surviving Small
Jan 18, 2015 - This article is part one of a multi-part series that outlines the challenges faced by Iowa's rural healthcare providers. Offers statistics that illustrate the economic impact of a rural healthcare facility and the history of Iowa's rural healthcare system, in addition to outlining the challenges and disparities that persist today.
Source: The Gazette
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MedPAC Finalizes 2016 Hospital Payment, Post-Acute Care Recommendations
Jan 15, 2015 - AHA News article reports that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has released its final recommendation concerning payment rates for hospital inpatient and outpatient services for 2016. MedPAC has also recommended freezing Medicare payments to physicians in 2016 in place of the sustainable growth rate formula, among other recommendations.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Country Doc of the Year a 'Dinosaur,' Motivated by Community
Jan 15, 2015 - Tells the story of a primary care physician who, despite the long hours, prefers his rural, independent practice in Virginia, to that of one in an urban setting. It describes his sense of duty to his patients and community and the satisfaction he receives by being there for them.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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In Remote Washington, Veterans Services Are Ferry Ride Away
Jan 15, 2015 - Discusses the challenges to accessing VA healthcare services in rural San Juan County, Washington, where barriers have caused some veterans to stop trying to gain access to VA benefits.
Source: National Public Radio
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Telepsychiatry: The New Frontier in Mental Health
Jan 15, 2015 - Describes the growing field of telepsychiatry to treat mental health conditions in underserved areas. Discusses the evolution of the field and the impact it is having in rural areas, extending mental health services to those with limited access to mental healthcare.
Source: U.S. News
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Alaska Health Plan Premiums, Highest In Nation, Are Triple Those In Phoenix
Jan 15, 2015 - Reports on health insurance premium rates around the country finding some of the most expensive premiums in rural locations around the country, with rural Alaska having the most expensive health insurance premium in the nation.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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HHS: Solicitation of Nominations for Appointment to the Advisory Committee on Minority Health Federal Register
Jan 15, 2015 - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking candidates to serve as members of the Advisory Committee on Minority Health. The aim of the committee is to advise the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health on how to improve the health status and outcomes for minority populations. Deadline to nominate a candidate is April 15, 2015.
Source: Federal Register
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FNS: Child and Adult Care Food Program: Meal Pattern Revisions Related to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 Federal Register
Jan 15, 2015 - The Food and Nutrition Service has proposed a rule that would change the meal pattern requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to better reflect the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Comments are being accepted until April 15, 2015.
Source: Federal Register
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HRSA: Determining Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas of Greatest Need Federal Register
Jan 14, 2015 - The Health Resources and Services Administration has released a notice updating the scoring criteria for determining mental health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) of greatest need. This updates the previous criteria published in 2003.
Source: Federal Register
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Rural Hospitals Innovate to Meet New Health Care Challenges
Jan 13, 2015 - Highlights the advantageous position small and rural hospitals are in when meeting new healthcare demands due to their ability to embrace innovation. Describes the shifting role of hospitals from reactionary healthcare treatment for individuals to preventative population health of an entire community. Also describes how small and rural hospitals can quickly pivot to best position themselves amidst changing service delivery models like Accountable Care Organizations. Hospitals & Health Networks also produced a complementary video capturing interviews that further explain the theme of this report.
Source: Hospitals & Health Networks
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Medicare Pays Doctors to Coordinate Seniors' Chronic Care
Jan 10, 2015 - Starting this month Medicare will pay primary care doctors to facilitate care coordination for the most vulnerable seniors, even if they do not have a face-to-face exam. The goal is to keep patients healthier in between hospital visits, an ongoing challenge to physicians in rural areas.
Source: Associated Press via Yahoo News
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Two Rural Pee Dee Hospitals May Close in May
Jan 10, 2015 - Describes the conditions surrounding the possible closures of two rural hospitals in South Carolina located within 15 miles of each other. The Marlboro Park Hospital and the Chesterfield General Hospital need to find a new operator by May in order to keep the doors open and to keep nearly 300 employees on payroll.
Source: The Post and Courier
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Rural ACO Consortium Continues to Grow
Jan 9, 2015 - Describes the growth of the National Rural Accountable Care Consortium from one Accountable Care Organization (ACO) in 2014 to six for 2015. The article provides comments from the organizations leadership on the impact of these rural ACOs.
Source: HealthData Management
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South Dakota Mobile Simulation Program Brings Training to Rural Providers
Jan 9, 2015 - Describes the South Dakota Department of Health's mobile training program, Simulation in Motion - South Dakota (SIM-SD). The aim of the program is to train rural healthcare providers, especially emergency response personnel, in their own communities.
Source: Journal of Emergency Medical Services
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Telehealth Bill Signed Bringing Distance Care to Many
Jan 9, 2015 - A bill has been signed into New York State law that requires health insurance companies to cover the costs of telehealth services. This article discusses the impact and importance of the new law, especially for rural and underserved areas.
Source: Watertown Daily Times
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Failing Rural Hospitals Turn to Taxpayers
Jan 8, 2015 - In the face of difficult financial times for rural healthcare facilities, many struggling hospitals are going to their county leaders for help. This article tells stories of hospitals in Georgia that have successfully solicited support from their county leadership and describes the impact of the support. (Third of a three part series)
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Strong Match, Advances in Workforce Reform Top Education Gains Last Year
Jan 8, 2015 - A year end review of workforce progress written by the American Academy of Family Physicians highlights growth in the National Resident Matching Program, notably within the family medicine residency positions. The article explains the importance of this physician pipeline to rural communities that are currently facing a workforce shortage.
Source: The American Academy of Family Physicians
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Program by UB and Community Partners Could Help Reshape National Rural Health Care Landscape
Jan 8, 2015 - Discusses a model program, The Cross Jurisdictional Sharing Program, in two Western New York Counties that has been able to save healthcare systems substantial money in the first two years through the sharing of health services. Highlights the savings of the program and leaders share optimism about developing a national model of the program.
Source: Niagara Frontier Publications
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Aging Tsunami: As Crisis Grows, a Search for Help
Jan 7, 2015 - Describes the challenge of finding healthcare professionals to serve rural communities in Montana in the face of rising demand due to the aging baby boomer population. The article offers perspectives from healthcare workers in rural communities who share their interpersonal struggles of deciding to begin work, as well as retire from work, within a rural setting. (Part two of a two part story)
Source: NBC News
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Bill Would Remove 96-Hour Certification Requirement for CAHs
Jan 7, 2015 - A bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would remove the 96-hour Medicare physician certification requirement as a condition of payment for critical access hospitals. This brief explains the bill with more detail.
Source: American Hospital Association
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The Biggest Win for the VA Telehealth Program
Jan 6, 2015 - Highlights the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) telehealth platform and describes how it is leading the field in efficiency. Provides statistics describing the VA's telehealth performance, including numbers demonstrating that the majority of telehealth services were used by rural veterans. It also discusses how this tool is used to not only address physical ailments but also mental health needs of veterans.
Source: Healthcare Dive
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Variations in County Level Costs Between Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage Have Implications for Premium Support
Jan 5, 2015 - A recent Commonwealth Fund-supported publication in Health Affairs analyzes geographic variations in cost of traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, finding higher costs per rural MA beneficiary and lower costs per rural traditional Medicare beneficiary. This article details the findings and discusses what the implications mean for a possible redesign of Medicare as a premium support program, an option suggested by some policymakers.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund
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Affordable Care Act Recruiters Step up Efforts to Reach Indian Country
Jan 5, 2015 - Describes efforts to increase Native American and Alaskan Native enrollment in the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace, including creating culturally appropriate brochures, using bi-lingual outreach workers, and having mobile technologies available in the field to process sign-ups instantly.
Source: Native American Times
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