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Rural Health & Human Services Top Stories

Top news stories from the past 60 days.

Colorado Center Helps Native American War Veterans Heal 'Wounded Hearts'
Nov 24, 2014 - This piece discusses post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Native Americans returning to Colorado after the Afghanistan War and what the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health at the University of Colorado's School of Public Health. It discusses the higher rates of PTSD in American Indians and Native Alaskans and their higher-than-average rural residency rate.
Source: Colorado Public Radio
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Health Care Challenges for Rural Americans but More Options Than Ever
Nov 24, 2014 - This opinion piece written by the CEO of a rural, healthcare facility offers insight into not only the disparities that exist in rural America, but also into the growing number of solutions to address them.
Source: Finger Lakes Times
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CMS Extends 2014 EHR Attestation Deadline for Eligible Hospitals, CAHs
Nov 24, 2014 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid has extended the deadline for Critical Access Hospitals and other eligible hospitals to attest meaningful use of electronic health records. This extension will also have an impact on the deadline for reporting some clinical quality measures.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Rural Healthcare in Crisis: What Does the Future Hold?
Nov 23, 2014 - This article interviews rural health leaders concerning factors that led to the current rural healthcare crisis, practical solutions, and hopeful signs in addressing the problems. (Full article may require registration)
Source: FierceHealthcare
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Senate Passes Rural Health Care Resolution
Nov 21, 2014 - The National Rural Health Association reports that the Senate passed a resolution recognizing that access to hospitals and other healthcare providers for patients in rural areas of the United States is essential to the survival and success of communities in the United States. The resolution was passed on National Rural Health Day, November 20th, 2014.
Source: The National Rural Health Association
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Reopen Pennsylvania Health Centers, Supreme Court Rules
Nov 21, 2014 - A ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that the state's Department of Health must cease any further closings of rural community health centers and must "re-establish centers in counties in which they have been unlawfully closed." This decision comes after 16 rural health centers have been closed in the past year.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Hitachi Foundation Features Medical Assistants Model from Rural Colorado
Nov 21, 2014 - The Hitachi Foundation shares examples of how medical assistants and team-based care can help transform healthcare, featuring the High Plains Community Health Center.
Source: Hitachi Foundation
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VA: Wait-Time Goals of the Department for the Veterans Choice Program Federal Register
Nov 21, 2014 - This Notice announces that November 17, 2014, is the start date for veterans eligible to participate in the Veterans Choice Program.
Source: Federal Register
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State Panel Meets Over Ailing Rural Hospitals
Nov 20, 2014 - In the midst of another rural hospital closure in Georgia, a state Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee, headed by Governor Nathan Deal, met to hear from speakers outlining the depth of the state's rural healthcare crisis.
Source: Georgia Health News
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Nation Celebrates National Rural Health Day
Nov 20, 2014 - November 20 is National Rural Health Day, a day to celebrate the rural healthcare providers who work every day to meet the healthcare needs of their rural communities.
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US Task Force on Tribal Youth and Violence Urges Creation of New Office, More Funding
Nov 19, 2014 - A new report released by a U.S. Department of Justice advisory committee is fueling a movement to create a new Native American affairs office and seek more funding to combat violence experienced by tribal youth. The report recognizes trends and offers solutions to the problem.
Source: Associated Press via The Star Tribune
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Who's Being Hurt by the Physician Shortage?
Nov 19, 2014 - Discusses a growing shortage of physicians in rural areas, especially in the face of expanded health insurance coverage. The article also draws attention to some solutions, including getting more rural students into medical school and shortening the duration of medical education.
Source: Louisville Business First
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VA Using Technology to Help Quash Disparities For Rural Vets Needing Health Care
Nov 18, 2014 - This article discusses the telehealth efforts of the Veterans Health Administration's Office of Rural Health, being used to address healthcare disparities for veterans living in rural communities.
Source: Signal Magazine
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Automated CPR Machine Adds Health Care Hand
Nov 18, 2014 - Discusses a new automated CPR machine which gives consistent and continuous CPR to a patient. This is an important innovation for small and rural hospitals because it allows two or more hands to be freed up to help with installing an IV or check the patient's airway. More details about the machine are within this article.
Source: Prairie Business
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Avera eCare: Revolutionizing Rural Health Care
Nov 17, 2014 - Features the Avera eCare system and how it is using telehealth to provide cost-effective services and support to rural healthcare facilities, as well as peace of mind for rural providers and patients.
Source: KSFY
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Speak Your Piece: Walk It Off, Folks
Nov 17, 2014 - This article by Dr. Wayne Myers, M.D. discusses the fact that rural residents are walking less than their urban counterparts. This is explained by a lack of appropriate infrastructure but the article also offers some innovative solutions to address the disparity.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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Rural Americans Encouraged to Sign up for Affordable Care Act on Saturday
Nov 14, 2014 - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited Kansas City to encourage rural residents to sign up for health insurance through the federal healthcare insurance marketplace. This article discusses the importance the Secretary wanted to place on rural residents and highlight insurance coverage as an barrier to healthcare.
Source: KCTV5
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Joint Commission Recognizes 1,224 Hospitals for Outstanding Performance on Key Quality Measures
Nov 13, 2014 - The Joint Commission has released their 'America's Hospitals: Improving Quality and Safety: The Joint Commission's 2014 Annual Report'. This report reports on both urban and rural hospitals from small critical access hospitals to large academic medical centers.
Source: The Joint Commission
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Rural Hospitals in Critical Condition
Nov 13, 2014 - This USA Today article describes the severity of rural hospital closures across the country; 43 closures since the beginning of 2010. More alarming, the article points out that the rate of the closures has greatly accelerated over these past 4 years. Includes four sections describing the unique challenges rural healthcare facilities are facing in a financially uncertain environment.
Source: USA Today
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CMS Awards $3.9 Million to Improve Access to Quality Health Care Services for American Indian and Alaska Native Children
Nov 12, 2014 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have awarded $3.9 million for outreach and enrollment in Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) with American Indian and Alaskan Native populations. The grant money will be used to engage schools and tribal agencies in Medicaid and CHIP outreach and enrollment activities.
Source: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Inpatient Volume, Revenue Drops as Outpatient Care Makes Gains
Nov 11, 2014 - This article argues that dropping volume of inpatient services, and associated revenues, are bankrupting hospitals, especially rural hospitals. It submits the solution of shifting focus, and costs, to outpatient services to lessen the burden they are feeling. It uses data from a MedPAC report that researched the relationship between hospital volumes and costs.
Source: RevCycle Intelligence
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Continued Funding a Must to Avoid 'Primary Care Cliff,' Say AAFP, Other Groups
Nov 10, 2014 - This article by the American Academy of Family Physicians states its support for three programs aimed to improve access in underserved and rural areas; Teaching Health Centers, Community Health Centers, and the National Health Service Corps. It outlines the merits of the programs and the importance of continued support for them.
Source: The American Academy of Family Physicians
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American Veterans Are Half as Likely to Live in Big Cities
Nov 10, 2014 - This article provide some statistics on geographic location of veterans throughout the country. It concludes that veterans overwhelmingly prefer to live in rural areas, instead of cities.
Source: Market Watch
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OIG Releases Its Workplan for 2015
Nov 10, 2014 - Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General (OIG) released on Friday its Work Plan for fiscal year (FY) 2015. This work plan includes all anticipated work for the next fiscal year including investigating the impact of the 2-midnight rule and comparing reimbursement for swing-bed services at critical access hospitals (CAHs) to the same level of care obtained at traditional skilled nursing facilities to determine whether Medicare cost savings.
Source: JD Supra Business Advisor
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Rural Remedies
Nov 9, 2014 - This article suggests that social dynamics may have more to do with America’s rural doctor shortage than the number of medical schools or curriculum. It discusses this unique consideration when recruiting workforce and the need to build an established medical community and a vibrant rural lifestyle, which could help alleviate feelings of professional isolation to lure more physicians.
Source: Yakima Herald
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HRSA Awards $51.3 Million in Affordable Care Act Funding to Support Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment
Nov 6, 2014 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has announced $51.3 million in Affordable Care Act funding to support mental health and substance abuse services in 210 health centers across the country, including many serving rural communities.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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CMS: Medicare and Medicaid Programs; CY 2015 Home Health Prospective Payment System Rate Update; Home Health Quality Reporting Requirements; and Survey and Enforcement Requirements for Home Health Agencies Federal Register
Nov 6, 2014 - This final rule updates Home Health Prospective Payment System (HH PPS) rates, including those that affect rural facilities. Among other things, the rule simplifies face-to-face encounter requirements for patients transferring from acute-care to home health settings.
Source: Federal Register
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VA: Expanded Access to Non-VA Care Through the Veterans Choice Program Federal Register
Nov 5, 2014 - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is accepting comments on the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 interim final rule until March 5, 2015. The rule dictates the creation of the Veterans Choice program which allows veterans who cannot be seen by a VA healthcare provider within the wait-time goals of the VHA, or who qualify based on their place of residence, to be seen by non-VA healthcare providers.
Source: Federal Register
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A New Effort to Ease the Doctor Shortage
Nov 4, 2014 - The Federation of State Medical Boards is gearing up to promote an interstate compact aimed to ease licensing requirements for physicians who practice in 2 or more states. Discusses how this compact, in conjunction with telehealth technology, can help ease a doctor shortage around the country, especially in rural areas.
Source: Governing
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Grant Opportunity: Rural Health Network Development Planning Program Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources & Services Administration
Nov 3, 2014 - The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy has announced a one-year funding opportunity to assist in planning and developing an integrated healthcare network in a rural area. The Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant Program aims to expand access to and strengthen efficiencies of the rural healthcare system as a whole.
Source: Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
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Medicare Sets 2015 Provider Rates, Weighs Payment For End-Of-Life Counseling
Nov 3, 2014 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released final rules concerning Medicare payment policies for providers and suppliers in 2015. This Kaiser Health News digest provides summaries of articles covering the topic. For more information, see CMS Final Rule Fact Sheets.
Source: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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3rd Annual NRHA/RAC Rural Lens Photo Contest Opens
Nov 3, 2014 - The Rural Assistance Center (RAC) has again partnered with the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) for the third annual Rural Lens competition.
Source: Rural Assistance Center
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TJC Updates Equipment Maintenance Rules for Critical Access Hospitals
Oct 31, 2014 - The Joint Commission (TJC) has updated its standards to align with new federal requirements that allow critical access hospitals to deviate from manufacturers’ maintenance recommendations in certain circumstances.

Source: The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation
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Promoting Rural Opportunity by Expanding Access to Broadband
Oct 31, 2014 - Discusses a recent dialogue with The Rural Broadband Association hosted by the White House Rural Council concerning the importance of broadband connection in rural communities. This article recaps the meeting and emphasizes the team approach when tackling this cross-sector problem in rural America.
Source: The White House Rural Council
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CMS Releases Home Health Final Rule
Oct 30, 2014 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the final rule for the home health prospective payment system for calendar year 2015. Overall, as proposed, the rule reduces home health payments by 0.3% from 2014 payment levels, a $60 million reduction. It also simplifies requirements for a physician to meet a patient face-to-face when they are moving from the acute-care setting to the home health setting.
Source: American Hospital Association
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VA: Veterans' Rural Health Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting Federal Register
Oct 30, 2014 - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) gives notice of an upcoming meeting of the Veterans Rural Health Advisory Committee. The agenda will include updates from the Committee Chair and the Director of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Office of Rural Health (ORH), as well as presentations on general health care access and quality.
Source: Federal Register
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The New Heroin Epidemic
Oct 30, 2014 - This article discusses the growing heroine epidemic throughout the United States with note of the drugs severe impact in rural communities.
Source: The Atlantic
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No Margin For Error: Virginia's Rural Hospitals Face Enormous Challenges
Oct 29, 2014 - The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) has released a report outlining challenges faced by 37 rural hospitals and their communities in Virginia. This article highlights key findings of the report.
Source: Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association
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Investing in Rural America
Oct 29, 2014 - This article from Mid-Missouri Public Radio discusses the importance of internet capabilities in rural healthcare systems throughout the United States and what the United States Department of Agriculture is doing to improve access to it.
Source: Mid-Missouri Public Radio
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Rural Hospitals' Success Under ACA Marred by Delays, Supreme Court Ruling
Oct 29, 2014 - Discusses the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on rural hospitals after four years in existence and the current landscape of rural healthcare. This edition of "Road to Reform" takes a look at the challenges facing rural hospitals and how the ACA might address them.
Source: California Healthline
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CMS Updates FAQ on Hospital Appeals Settlement Offer
Oct 28, 2014 - CMS has updated its frequently asked questions on the settlement offer for certain patient status claim denials for acute care and critical access hospitals. FAQs 3, 31 and 32 let hospitals know that they can submit a request for a "potential list" of eligible claims for the settlement offer, which will be accepted as an intent to participate in the settlement offer.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Request for Information (RFI) on the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Strategic Directions for Research
Oct 28, 2014 - The National Institute on Aging (NIA) is updating and seeking public input on its Strategic Directions to help guide the research it supports over the next five years. The NIA seeks information to better understand health differences and develop strategies to improve the health status of older adults in diverse populations, including rural populations.
Source: National Institute on Aging
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As 'Obamacare' Enrollment Window Reopens, Many Uninsured Unaware of Subsidies
Oct 26, 2014 - Among Americans currently without health insurance coverage, nearly nine in 10 don’t know that the law’s second open-enrollment period begins Nov. 15, according to a poll issued last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This article covers this finding and its more severe impact in rural communities.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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Rural Gap Exists in Behavioral Health Care
Oct 23, 2014 - In this opinion piece, John Roberts, Executive Director of the Nebraska Rural Health Association, outlines the existing gap in behavioral health services and specialists in rural communities. He also discusses what needs to be done to address the gap.
Source: Kearney Hub
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HHS Secretary Announces $840 Million Initiative to Improve Patient Care and Lower Costs
Oct 23, 2014 - A new initiative funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is hoping to transform the current healthcare system from one focused by quantity of care provided to a system that is focused on patient outcomes and coordinated care.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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USDA Announces Funding to Improve Rural Water Systems Nationwide and Upgrade Water Infrastructure in Rural Alaska Villages
Oct 23, 2014 - USDA is providing more that $352 million in loans and grants to upgrade rural water and wastewater systems nationwide and to make infrastructure improvements for villages in rural Alaska.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Struggling To Bring Health Care To Rural Washington
Oct 23, 2014 - Discusses the issue of access to care and the shortage of physicians in Washington, especially in rural parts of the state. In an effort to help solve the problem, Washington State University plans to open its own medical school by 2017 with the goal of placing more doctors in rural areas.
Source: KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio (Washington)
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CMS: Basic Health Program; Federal Funding Methodology for Program Year 2016, Proposed Rule Federal Register
Oct 23, 2014 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is accepting comments on the methodology used to determine the federal payment amounts made to states that elect to establish a Basic Health Program under the ACA for program year 2016. Basic Health Programs are designed to provide health insurance benefits to low-income individuals that would otherwise be eligible to purchase coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Source: Federal Register
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Getting the Payment Rates Right in Medicare's Fee Schedule for Physicians, Nurses, and Allied Health Professionals
Oct 22, 2014 - As part of their October meeting, MedPAC focused on the Medicare physician fee schedule and potential inaccuracies in the schedule based on the actual number of hours physicians worked compared to fee schedule time estimates across physician specialties.
Source: MedPAC
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USDA Announces Funding for Rural Broadband and Telecommunications Infrastructure
Oct 22, 2014 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced $190.5 million in grants and loans through the Community Connect grant program, the Telecommunications Infrastructure loan program and the Public Television Digital Transition grant program. These funds help ensure connectivity in rural areas for healthcare, education, and public safety.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Missouri Sees Urban, Rural Divide In Obamacare Signups
Oct 22, 2014 - Describes a study by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that analyzed enrollment in health insurance marketplace and private health insurance plans by zip code in Missouri and Illinois. The results showed that urban and suburban areas had higher rates of marketplace sign-ups than rural locations, among other things.
Source: Kaiser Health News and St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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Report: Wide Variation In State Exchange Plans' Covered Benefits
Oct 22, 2014 - Kaiser Health News brings together a collection of articles in anticipation of the coming open enrollment period for the ACA's Health Insurance Marketplace Exchange plans.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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USDA Invests in Small and Emerging Rural Businesses and Rural Transportation
Oct 21, 2014 - USDA has announced an investment of $4.9 million through the Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program to support rural business and transportation projects across the country.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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HHS: Announcement of Requirements and Registration for “Market R&D Pilot Challenge” Federal Register
Oct 21, 2014 - This is a notice of the Department of Health and Human Services' Market R&D Pilot Challenges which is intended to help bridge this gap by bringing together health care organizations (“Hosts”) and innovative companies (“Innovators”) through pilot funding awards and facilitated matchmaking. The Challenge seeks to award pilot proposals in three different domains: Clinical environments (e.g., hospitals, ambulatory care, surgical centers), public health and community environments (community-based personnel such as public health departments, community health workers, mobile medical trucks, school- and jail-based clinics), and consumer health (e.g., self-insured employers, pharmacies, laboratories).
Source: Federal Register
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A Rural Practice Fights to Stay Solvent
Oct 20, 2014 - This article tells the story of a rural pediatric provider in Hertford County, North Carolina who provides care to an underserved rural population and how the troubled roll out of NCTracks, a new electronic Medicaid payment system, has jeopardized her practice.
Source: North Carolina Health News and MedPage Today
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Officials at Rural Kentucky Hospitals Describe Steps They're Taking to Prepare for Ebola
Oct 17, 2014 - Discusses the approach taken by rural hospitals in Kentucky to prepare for the possibility of a patient who has been exposed to the Ebola virus, including includes watching for information from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department for Public Health, as well as implementing more screening procedures for the virus.
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader
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Rural Hospitals Support Orphan Drug Enforcement Action
Oct 17, 2014 - The federal government has told drug manufacturers that they must give rural and cancer hospitals refunds for certain high-priced medicines. This enforcement action will go far in helping these providers better serve their vulnerable patients. The article discusses how in July, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) set a new rule requiring drug makers to provide reduced pricing through a federal drug discount program on orphan drugs when used for common conditions, but drug manufacturers have, for the most part, been ignoring the rule.
Source: Safety Net Hospitals for Pharmaceutical Access
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VA: Wait-Time Goals of the Department for the Veterans Choice Program Federal Register
Oct 17, 2014 - The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish a program (the “Veterans Choice Program”) to furnish hospital care and medical services through non-VA health care entities and providers to Veterans who either cannot be seen within the “wait-time goals of the Veterans Health Administration” or who qualify based on their place of residence.
Source: Federal Register
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New Affordable Care Act Initiative to Support Care Coordination Nationwide
Oct 15, 2014 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the availability of a new initiative for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. The new ACO Investment Model is designed to bring efforts to better coordinate care to rural and underserved areas by providing up to $114 million in upfront investments to up to 75 ACOs across the country.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid
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Henderson Hospital Using Chocolate to Train for Potential Ebola Threat
Oct 14, 2014 - A North Carolina hospital, Maria Parham Medical Center, is preparing with chocolate syrup its staff to better control the spread of viruses while treating patients, such as the Ebola virus. The chocolate syrup serves as a visual indicator of containment of the virus while removing protective gear after serving a patient. This article provides an example of how smaller hospitals in rural communities are preparing themselves for threats like the Ebola virus.
Source: WRAL-TV
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SAMHSA Provides up to $294 Million in Tribal Youth Programs to Prevent and Treat Mental and Substance Use Disorders
Oct 14, 2014 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awarded up to $294 million in funding for behavioral health services for tribal youth promoting prevention, treatment and recovery from mental and substance use disorders. SAMHSA is awarding these grants to programs in tribal communities across the country to expand and enhance their behavioral healthcare services, especially with regard to children, adolescents and young adults.
Source: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Washington County, N.C. Community Leaders Discuss Access to Transportation at NACo Community Dialogue
Oct 14, 2014 - The National Association of Counties (NACo), in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, is conducting community dialogues in six counties across the country aimed to assist in assessing, planning and strategizing current efforts toward coordinating health initiatives to, ultimately, improve the overall health of residents in these counties. These sessions are a part of NACo’s aim to bring together public and private partners to share, nationally, innovative ideas and strategize about how to resolve various challenges counties face. This article discusses a community dialogue in North Carolina where access to transportation was a topic priority discussed.
Source: National Association of Counties
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A Benefit For Rural Vets: Getting Health Care Close To Home
Oct 13, 2014 - Explains challenges faced by rural veterans seeking healthcare and a new Department of Veterans Affairs program meant to address these challenges, the Access Received Closer to Home, or ARCH, program. It allows veterans to use private doctors if they live far from a VA hospital or can't get a VA appointment within 30 days.
Source: National Public Radio
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Analysis of Health Plan Sign-ups Shows Success, Challenges
Oct 12, 2014 - A Post-Dispatch analysis of enrollments on HealthCare.gov, the government’s online health insurance marketplace, shows some challenges in enrolling rural residents for health insurance. The analysis, which looked at enrollments by ZIP code areas in Missouri and Illinois, indicates that urban and suburban areas had higher rates of marketplace sign-ups than rural locations.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Rural Health Innovations Receives Contract to Provide Onsite Technical Assistance Through the Small Rural Hospital Transition Project
Oct 10, 2014 - Rural Health Innovations (RHI), a subsidiary of the National Rural Health Resource Center, was awarded the Small Rural Hospital Transition (SRHT) Project by the Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP). The SRHT Project is designed to support small rural hospitals nationally by providing onsite technical assistance (TA) in bridging the gaps between the current health care system and the newly emerging system of health care delivery and payment.
Source: National Rural Health Resource Center
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VA Telehealth Services Served Over 690,000 Veterans In Fiscal Year 2014
Oct 10, 2014 - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that its national telehealth programs served more than 690,000 Veterans during fiscal year 2014. Of that number, approximately 55 percent were Veterans living in rural areas with limited access to VA healthcare.
Source: Department of Veterans Affairs
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New Awards to Support Rural Enrollment in Health Insurance Marketplaces
Oct 10, 2014 - Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RN, announced $1.4 million to support rural health organizations in their efforts to inform Americans living in rural areas about benefits available to them under the Affordable Care Act and to help them sign up for health insurance coverage.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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Senators Urge CMS Rulemaking to Better Account for Rural Care Needs
Oct 9, 2014 - A bipartisan group of 34 senators asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to better account for the unique circumstances of rural providers in its rulemaking process.
Source: American Hospital Association
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CMS: Medicare and Medicaid Program: Conditions of Participation for Home Health Agencies Federal Register
Oct 9, 2014 - This proposed rule would revise the current conditions of participation (CoPs) that home health agencies (HHAs) must meet in order to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Source: Federal Register
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National Health Service Corps Strengthens Primary Care Workforce
Oct 9, 2014 - Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced that the Health Resources and Services Administration awarded $283 million in Affordable Care Act funding through the National Health Service Corps Program to continue the investment in increasing access to primary care services for Americans.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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Rural Primary Care Challenges Extend Beyond Physician Supply
Oct 9, 2014 - Describes the findings of a UnitedHealth Group study concerning primary care delivery in the United States and different approaches to improving it. It specifically includes rural specific workforce and healthcare facility statistics.
Source: Health Leaders Media
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OIG Report: Medicare Beneficiaries Paid Nearly Half of the Costs for Outpatient Services at Critical Access Hospitals
Oct 7, 2014 - According to a report released by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), Medicare beneficiaries who received outpatient services at Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) in 2012 paid more out-of-pocket for their care than they would have at acute-care hospitals due to coinsurance calculations.
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CMS: Hardship Exception Applications to Avoid the 2015 Medicare Payment Adjustment Due November 30, 2014
Oct 7, 2014 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced that eligible hospitals can apply through Nov. 30 for a hardship exception to avoid fiscal year 2015 penalties for not demonstrating meaningful use of electronic health records before July 1, 2014.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid
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Survey: 9 in 10 Rural/Small Town Seniors Have Convenient Access to Preferred Pharmacies in Medicare
Oct 6, 2014 - A new survey conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) shows that nine in 10 seniors from urban, suburban, small town and rural areas have convenient access to preferred pharmacies in Medicare Part D. It specifically draws out overwhelming support from small and rural seniors for their current Medicare Plan D insurance plans.
Source: PR Newswire
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CMS Announces Two Medicare Quality Improvement Initiatives
Oct 6, 2014 - Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced two initiatives to improve the quality of post-acute care. First, the expansion and strengthening of the agency’s widely-used Five Star Quality Rating System for Nursing Homes will improve consumer information about individual nursing homes’ quality. Second, proposed new conditions of participation for home health agencies will modernize Medicare’s Home Health Agency Conditions of Participation to ensure safe delivery of quality care to home health patients.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Rural Areas Continue to Lose Pharmacy Access
Oct 6, 2014 - Nearly 1000 independently owned pharmacies have closed over the past decade, leaving 490 rural areas without access to retail pharmacy services, recent research has revealed. The article discusses the findings of this research and it expresses concern over the loss of pharmacies in rural communities.
Source: Pharmacy Times
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KU Medical Center Approved for $10 Million Award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to Study Obesity Treatment Options
Oct 3, 2014 - A research team at the University of Kansas Medical Center has been approved for a $10 million funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study the comparative effectiveness of obesity treatment options in rural communities. The five year study, the Midwestern Collaborative for Treating Obesity in Rural Primary Care, calls for one of the three treatment approaches to be delivered at 36 primary care practices located in Kansas, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa. Patients' weight loss at 24 months will be used to measure the effectiveness of the different approaches.
Source: Kansas City Kansan
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The Wild Wild West of Community and Rural Health
Oct 3, 2014 - This HealthLeaders Magazine article describes innovation that is occurring in community and rural health in the face of a changing fiscal environment. Smarter partnerships, new management strategies, and telemedicine are three innovation approaches discussed concerning vitality of healthcare facilities.
Source: HealthLeaders Magazine
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Expanding Medicaid Increases Rural Health Care Access and Use
Oct 2, 2014 - A new study in Health Services Research found that expanding Medicaid to cover more adults boosts healthcare access and use in rural populations in Wisconsin. This article covers the findings of the study, including national implications for utilization of healthcare.
Source: Health Behavior News Service
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Working With Midlevel Providers: Dentists' Perspectives
Oct 2, 2014 - Midlevel dental providers perform preventive care and routine restorative duties, such as filling cavities, in a variety of settings. Often called dental therapists, they already work as part of the dental team in Alaska, Minnesota, and more than 50 countries. Eight dentists share their perspectives on these practitioners, with direct mention of their application in rural areas.
Source: The PEW Charitable Trusts
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More Critical-Access Hospital Closings Likely
Sep 30, 2014 - The number of Critical Access Hospitals in the U.S. continued to fall over the past year, according to Modern Healthcare magazine's annual review of CMS data published in this week's By the Numbers list. This article discusses the reasons why and speculates future closures. (Full article may require registration)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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Many Rural Hospitals Are Excluded From Government's Push For Better Quality
Sep 30, 2014 - This article reports that rural providers are largely left out of the healthcare industry's shift toward accountability. The Department of Health and Human Services has yet to incorporate the country's 1,256 predominantly rural critical access hospitals (CAHs) into pay-for-performance programs under Medicare, according to the article.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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When the Tiny Hospital Can't Survive: Free-Standing EDs with Primary Care Seen as New Rural Model
Sep 27, 2014 - With a focus on Georgia, this article discusses hospital closures and a plan to ensure emergency service provision after the closures; free-standing emergency departments. The article discusses where the idea came from, some positives of the plans, as well as some drawbacks. (May require free registration for full article)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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