Rural Health & Human Services
Top Stories

Top news stories from the past 60 days.

Rural Ark-La-Tex Veterans May Avoid Trips to Shreveport VA for Routine Care
May 22, 2015 - Describes a new U.S. Department of Veterans Administration mobile health clinic that is bringing healthcare further into rural areas of Arkansas, Lousiana, Texas, and Oklahoma via telemedicine.
Source: Red River Radio
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RUS: Announcement of Grant Application Deadlines Federal Register
May 22, 2015 - Rural Utilities Service, USDA announces the application availability for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program, to provide loans and grants designed to provide access to education, training and healthcare resources for people in rural America.
Source: Federal Register
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UC Davis Study Finds Significant Cost Savings in Pediatric Telemedicine Consults
May 21, 2015 - Highlights a study that finds financial savings associated with pediatric telemedicine consultations with rural emergency departments when compared with traditional in-person consultations.
Source: EurekAlert!, American Association for the Advancement of Science
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Despite Numbers, Rural Vets Lack Attention, Resources
May 20, 2015 - Describes challenges faced by veterans living in rural areas, specifically highlighting barriers to access concerning health and human services.
Source: Military Times
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Will a $1B Investment Resuscitate Rural Hospitals, Doctors?
May 20, 2015 - Provides an overview of the financial challenges to critical access hospitals and describes how the rural healthcare industry is having to reimagine the way it operates to ensure healthcare access in rural areas.
Source: RevCycleIntelligence
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WH Set to Tackle Rural Poverty
May 19, 2015 - Reports on the intentions of the White House to tackle poverty in rural areas. Describes the issue as well as funding that will be used to address it.
Source: USA Today
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Tech Transition Threatens Rural Consumers
May 19, 2015 - Describes risks to emergency response services associated with technological advancements from landline communication systems to new digital communication systems. Highlights conditions when a rural power supply may fail and render 9-1-1 services ineffective.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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COPD Risk Is Higher in Poor and Rural Communities
May 19, 2015 - Describes a study that has found an elevated risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for those living in poor and rural communities.
Source: Healthline
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Rural Veterans In Need Of Care Face Uncertainty, Isolation
May 18, 2015 - Provides an overview of challenges faced by rural veterans, statistics describing the rural veteran population, and emerging solutions to address healthcare access disparities such as, care coordination and telehealth.
Source: Task & Purpose
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Addressing Rural Area Drug Addiction Key to Reducing Spread of Hepatitis C
May 17, 2015 - Highlights concern over the growth of hepatitis C in recent years, especially in rural areas, and discusses the connection between its growth and illicit drug use.
Source: Philadelphia Media Network
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As Rural Hospitals Struggle, Solutions Sought to Preserve Healthcare Access
May 16, 2015 - Provides a thorough overview of the current challenges and opportunities that rural hospitals are facing. Highlights experts with varying opinions on why rural hospitals are closing and what can be done to curb the risk of closure. (Full article may require registration)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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Interstate Telehealth Licensing Compact Set to Become Reality
May 15, 2015 - Reports on the passage of an Alabama bill adopting an interstate licensure compact which will allow physicians to practice across state lines. Alabama is the seventh state to do so, meeting the threshold number of participating states needed to enact the compact. Highlights how this compact will increase access to healthcare in rural and underserved areas.
Source: mHealth News
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VA Secretary Waives Resident-Rate Requirements of the Choice Act through December, 2015
May 15, 2015 - Reports that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has waived a residency requirement of the Veterans Choice Act to ensure access to healthcare for student veterans.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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Indiana Community's HIV Outbreak a Warning to Rural America
May 14, 2015 - Describes a recent HIV outbreak in rural Indiana as a warning for rural communities across the country. Highlights conditions of rural communities that makes them highly susceptible for disease outbreaks, especially communities with a large number of illicit drug users.
Source: USA Today
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HRSA Awards $5 Million to Support Families of Children with Special Health Care Needs
May 14, 2015 - The Health Resources and Services Administration has announced $5 million to support Family-to-Family Health Information Centers through Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act funds. Lists the recipients per state and describes how they help families find community resources and care for children.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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Bill to Improve Transportation Options for Veterans
May 14, 2015 - Describes a bill introduced to the Congress that aims to improve healthcare access for rural veterans by reimbursing expenses accrued while traveling long distances to medical appointments.
Source: News Channel 10
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Senate Hearing Provides Template for Rural Health Advocacy
May 13, 2015 - Highlights the Senate testimony of rural health leaders last week which outlined the ongoing healthcare struggles and challenges faced in rural communities across the nation.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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More Georgia Rural Hospitals Opt Out of Birthing Babies
May 12, 2015 - Describes the importance of access to obstetric care and prenatal services in rural communities while highlighting a growing trend in hospitals opting out of these services in Georgia.
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Kick the Bucket- Alaska Public Media Looks at the Water and Sewer Situation in Rural Alaska
May 12, 2015 - Five-part series highlights the status of water and sewer quality in rural Alaska. Analyses how these systems are impacting health status and hospitalization rates in rural Alaska.
Source: Alaska Public Media
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Telemedicine is Changing the Health Care Industry
May 12, 2015 - Discusses how virtual patient-to-doctor interaction made possible through telemedicine is changing the healthcare industry, especially in rural areas.
Source: St. Louis Public Radio
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Q&A: Taking Stock of North Carolina’s Rural Hospitals
May 11, 2015 - Question and answer session with UNC-Chapel Hill health economist, Mark Holmes, on the current condition of rural hospitals in North Carolina.
Source: North Carolina Health News
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Hospitals Suffering Under ACA, New Kentucky Hospital Association Report Says
May 8, 2015 - Describes a report from the Kentucky Hospital Association highlighting the financial impact of expanded health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act on hospitals in the state.
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader
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HRSA: Recruitment of Sites for Assignment of Corps Personnel Obligated Under the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program Federal Register
May 8, 2015 - The Health Resources and Services Administration announces the listing of entities and associated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) scores to receive priority for assignment of National Health Service Corps (NHSC) scholarship recipients.
Source: Federal Register
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AHRQ: National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality: Request for Nominations for Public Members Federal Register
May 7, 2015 - The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is seeking nominations to the National Advisory Council Healthcare Research and Quality which advises the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on matters of quality, safety, and accessibility of healthcare. At least one member of the Council should be familiar with the experiences of rural healthcare providers and facilities.
Source: Federal Register
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ICYMI: A Medicaid ‘Experiment.’ Not an Expansion
May 7, 2015 - Describes language in the recently approved Georgia state budget that seeks to explore Medicaid policy adjustments to help address the state's struggling rural hospitals and its big "safety net" hospitals. Provides interviews with state officials and additional details about the exploration of new Medicaid policy in Georgia.
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Publicly Funded Med Schools Produce More General Physicians
May 7, 2015 - Describes a recent study to determine which medical schools train more primary care physicians, public or private. Also provides information on location of practice. (May require registration for full article)
Source: Medscape Medical News
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Brown Bill Expands Part D Availability
May 7, 2015 - Describes the introduction of the Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act that would require community pharmacies in medically underserved areas to participate in Medicare Part D, increasing access to prescription drugs for seniors living in underserved and rural areas.
Source: Portsmouth Daily Times
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Hepatitis C Infections Soaring, Fueled by Prescription Painkiller Abuse
May 7, 2015 - Discusses a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report finding an increase in the rate of hepatitis C, driven by prescription painkiller abuse, in rural Appalachia.
Source: USA Today
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Hospital Leaders Urge Congress to Support Unique Needs of Rural Patients
May 7, 2015 - Recaps testimony given by rural health leaders to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Service, Education and Related Agencies.
Source: American Hospital Association
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35 Texas Counties Have Zero Physicians
May 6, 2015 - Describes results of a survey commissioned by the North Texas Regional Extension Center, and highlights challenges of the provider shortage in Texas, which is most acute in rural areas.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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Staffing An Intensive Care Unit From Miles Away Has Advantages
May 6, 2015 - Describes how the Carolinas Healthcare System monitors patients in multiple, rural hospitals from varying distances via telehealth. Highlights how this approach is improving healthcare quality and access to specialists.
Source: National Public Radio
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Pence Signs Needle-Exchange Bill as HIV Outbreak Cases Grow
May 5, 2015 - Describes a new bill signed into law by Indiana Governor Mike Pence that allows the implementation of needle-exchange programs in communities that can prove an epidemic. The bill was prompted by the recent HIV outbreak in rural Indiana from an increase in needle sharing by drug users.
Source: The New York Times
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Telemedicine Reimbursement and Licensure Expands in State Regulations
May 5, 2015 - Reports that 24 states now require that healthcare provided via telemedicine be paid the same as in-person services, 3 more states than last year. Describes the importance of progress made concerning reimbursement of telehealth services to rural areas.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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Rural Lags in 'Well Being,' Says New Study
May 5, 2015 - Reports on a recent study that ranks the top and bottom congressional districts based on indicators related to residents' health, education, and economic status. Concludes that rural counties rate lower on a well-being index than their urban counterparts.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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HHS Announces $101 Million in Affordable Care Act Funding to 164 New Community Health Centers
May 5, 2015 - The Department of Health & Human Services has announced $101 million to fund 164 new health center sites in 33 states and two U.S. territories to extend access to healthcare into underserved communities.
Source: The Department of Health & Human Services
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$1 Billion Invested in Rural Health Care Across 13 States
May 4, 2015 - Reports on the efforts of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) since 2012 to address the need for financing to support adoption of health IT systems in rural communities. Describes how the USDA has addressed the need through grants and loans for rural health clinics and hospitals to transition to electronic health records.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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When Hospitals Close, Frequent Fears About Care Aren't Realized
May 4, 2015 - Highlights a new study that has found that, when a hospital closes, death rates and other markers of quality generally do not worsen. Notes that the experience of a hospital closure in an urban area can be drastically different from those in rural areas.
Source: National Public Radio
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HRSA: National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice; Notice for Request for Nominations Federal Register
May 4, 2015 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is seeking nominations for the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP). NACNEP provides recommendations to the Secretary related to nurse workforce education and practice improvement. HRSA is seeking candidates from a broad geographic range, with balance between rural and urban locations for at least 16 open positions.
Source: Federal Register
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HRSA: Council on Graduate Medical Education; Notice of Meeting Federal Register
May 4, 2015 - The Council on Graduate Medical Education will hold a webinar and conference call meeting on May 21, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Agenda items include innovations in Graduate Medical Education financing, reform, and architecture.
Source: Federal Register
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Rural Childhood Poverty Gap Widens
May 2, 2015 - Highlights a newly released chart with updated data illustrating a trend of increased poverty levels for young children in rural areas when compared with those in urban areas.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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Governor Signs Montana HELP Act
May 2, 2015 - Governor Bullock has signed the Montana Healthy and Livelihood Economic Partnership (HELP) Act, which will expand health insurance coverage to residents that fall into the Medicaid gap.
Source: Sidney Herald
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Jenkins Introduces Bill To Expand Access To Rural Anesthesiology Care
May 2, 2015 - Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II. (D-MO) recently introduced the Medicare Access to Rural Anesthesiology Act of 2015. The bill would allow certain rural hospitals to use Medicare Part A funds for the recruitment and retention of physician anesthesiologists.
Source: Hays Post
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FORHP Award Announcement: New Rural Health Care Services Outreach Grantees
May 1, 2015 - The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy has announced the awardees for the 2015 Rural Health Care Services Outreach grant program. These funded organizations are helping to change how healthcare is being delivered in rural communities.
Source: The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
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Rural Hospitals Struggle to Stay Open Amid Changing Medical Practices, Government Policies
May 1, 2015 - Describes the financial pressures that are forcing some rural hospitals to close their doors, leaving rural communities without adequate healthcare access.
Source: Associated Press via U.S. News
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Rural Towns Lack Resources To Combat, Prevent HIV Outbreak
May 1, 2015 - In light of a recent HIV outbreak in rural Indiana, this article describes a lack of resources for public health departments in the affected communities to adequately address and prevent upsurges in diseases such as HIV.
Source: Indiana Public Media
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Q&A: Why Have Rural Hospitals Been Closing?
May 1, 2015 - Offers a series of questions and answers to better understand the growing trend of rural hospital closures in recent years.
Source: Associated Press via ABC News
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Using Analytics to Achieve Value-Based Care in Rural Areas [Special Report]
Apr 30, 2015 - Explores how analytics are changing healthcare delivery in rural areas and outlines how rural healthcare providers can best use data to drive value-based outcomes.
Source: FierceHealthcare
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RUS: Broadband Opportunity Council Notice and Request for Comment Federal Register
Apr 29, 2015 - The Broadband Opportunity Council (Council), the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are requesting public comment on how the agencies can better promote broadband deployment, adoption, and competition, especially in rural areas.
Source: Federal Register
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National Capital Needs Assessment of All Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs)
Apr 29, 2015 - The Technical Assistance and Services Center, a program of the National Rural Health Resource Center, is working with Capital Link to conduct a national capital needs assessment of all Critical Access Hospitals and Rural Health Clinics.
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Calling 911 in Rural Areas Leads to Faster Heart Attack Care
Apr 29, 2015 - Describes new research findings concluding that rural patients who arrive at the hospital seeking treatment for a heart attack by ambulance get treated substantially faster than those who drive themselves. Highlights the need to educate the public on the importance of not hesitating to call an ambulance when help is needed, especially in rural areas.
Source: Medical Xpress
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Hospitals Provide a Pulse in Struggling Rural Towns
Apr 29, 2015 - Describes the economic importance of healthcare facilities in small and rural communities. Explains how rural healthcare facilities drive the economic viability of a community by bringing federal money into the community via Medicare reimbursement and by providing good wages to a large number of employees.
Source: The New York Times
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Medigap Remains Valuable for Rural Medicare Beneficiaries
Apr 28, 2015 - Describes a recent report from America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) that analyzed data from the 2012 Medicare Current Beneficiary survey. Discusses the importance of Medigap, a Medicare supplementary health insurance plan, for low-income Medicare beneficiaries, particularly those in rural communities.
Source: American Journal of Managed Care
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A Rural Police Chief Asks Citizens To Help Pick Up Used Syringes
Apr 28, 2015 - Reports on a rural, Massachusetts community that is calling on its residents to carefully clean up an increasing number of used heroin syringes left as litter around town. The small town police chief describes how heroin has gotten cheaper, leading to the increase in usage in rural areas.
Source: National Public Radio
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Obama Administration Announces Eight Additional Promise Zones to Build Community Prosperity
Apr 28, 2015 - Announces the Obama Administration's establishment of eight new promise zones, including one rural and one tribal community. Outlines how promise zones improve communities in a variety of ways, including enhancing public health initiatives.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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Broadband Opportunity Council Seeks Comment on Ways to Further Expand and Promote Broadband Deployment, Adoption and Competition
Apr 28, 2015 - Describes a request for public input from the President's interagency Broadband Opportunity Council on how federal agencies can promote broadband deployment, adoption, and competition.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development
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Online Course Helps Healthcare Professionals Better Serve Veterans and Servicemembers
Apr 27, 2015 - The departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense (DoD) have announced an online educational course, Military Culture: Core Competencies for Health Care Professionals, to help healthcare professionals better address the needs of veterans and service members.
Source: Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
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Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicare, Medicaid, and Children's Health Insurance Programs; Additional Request for Nominations for the Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education (APOE) Federal Register
Apr 27, 2015 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is requesting nominations for individuals to serve on the Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education (APOE), with a stated need for experts working with tribal and rural affairs.
Source: Federal Register
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VA: Driving Distance Eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program Federal Register
Apr 24, 2015 - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has published an interim final rule implementing regulation concerning the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. This interim final rule modifies how the VA measures distance from a veteran's residence to the nearest VA facility.
Source: Federal Register
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This Bipartisan Odd Couple Wants to Fix One of the Most Overlooked Problems in American Health Care
Apr 23, 2015 - Describes a bipartisan effort to draw attention to a growing trend of rural hospital closures across the country and the impact it is having on the residents who live in these areas. Describes a protest march from Belhaven, North Carolina to Washington, D.C. that took place last July and will be repeated on June 1, 2015 to raise awareness of rural hospital closures.
Source: The Week
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Participation Continues to Rise in Medicare Physician Quality Reporting System and Electronic Prescribing Incentive Program
Apr 23, 2015 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released a report stating that participation in the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) program increased by 47 percent from 2012 to 2013.
Source: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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CMS Releases Proposed FY 2016 IRF Rule
Apr 23, 2015 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released a proposed rule updating the Medicare fee-for-service payments for the inpatient rehabilitation facility prospective payment system for fiscal year 2016. Includes a brief summary of key provisions of the proposed rule.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Rural ACO Sign-up Deadline for $114 Million in Grants Imminent
Apr 22, 2015 - Interview with Lynn Barr, CEO of the National Rural ACO, who is spreading the message that rural providers only have until May 1 to apply for a one-time federal grant to help rural health facilities transition to accountable care organizations (ACOs).
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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Rural Hospitals Struggle to Stay Afloat
Apr 22, 2015 - Highlights the importance of Critical Access Hospitals across Kansas as well as the growing challenges they face today.
Source: Kansas Health Institute
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HRSA: National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services; Notice of Meeting Federal Register
Apr 21, 2015 - The Health Resources and Services Administration announces a public meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services. The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services advises the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on delivery, research, development, and administration of health and human services in rural areas.
Source: Federal Register
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HRSA: National Advisory Council on the National Health Service Corps; Notice of Meeting Federal Register
Apr 21, 2015 - The Health Resources and Services Administration announces a public meeting of the National Advisory Council on the National Health Service Corps (NAC). The NAC advices the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), concerning health professional shortage area designation and assigning healthcare personnel to improve the delivery of health services in these areas.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS: Medicare Program; Prospective Payment System and Consolidated Billing for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) for FY 2016, SNF Value-Based Purchasing Program, SNF Quality Reporting Program, and Staffing Data Collection Federal Register
Apr 20, 2015 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released a proposed rule that would update payment rates for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) under the prospective payment system.
Source: Federal Register
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Montana Poised To Expand Medicaid Under Obamacare
Apr 18, 2015 - Describes the passage of a Medicaid expansion bill in Montana which will now go to Governor Steve Bullock to sign into law. Provides information on past attempts to expand Medicaid in Montana.
Source: The Huffington Post
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Request for Information (RFI) Soliciting Input into the NIH Science Vision for Health Disparities Research
Apr 17, 2015 - NIH is seeking input regarding the science vision for health disparities research. Comments are being sought regarding key research areas that might address the complexity of the multiple, interacting factors that often generate and perpetuate health disparities. Responses will be accepted through July 31, 2015.
Source: National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
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Obamacare Takes Root in Appalachia, to Mixed Reviews
Apr 17, 2015 - One year after its implementation, people in the Appalachian Region are sharing how Obamacare has changed their ability to access healthcare services.
Source: USA Today and The (Louisville) Courier Journal
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New Funding Opportunities for Job-Driven Training Programs in Health Care
Apr 16, 2015 - The Administration for Children and Families announces funding for two Health Profession Opportunity programs, one serving TANF Recipients and other low-income individuals, and the other targeted to tribal organizations. Both programs provide eligible candidates an opportunity to obtain education and training for high-demand healthcare occupations.
Source: Administration for Children and Families
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Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes
Apr 16, 2015 - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and National Environmental Health Association are accepting nominations for the first annual Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes. The awards will recognize programs that are open to low and/or moderate income families and show measurable benefits in the health of residents. Applications are due April 30, 2015.
Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
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Healthy, Resilient, and Sustainable Communities After Disasters: Strategies, Opportunities, and Planning for Recovery
Apr 16, 2015 - The Institute of Medicine has released a report outlining how a community can use the disaster recovery process as an opportunity to improve health and human service delivery systems in their community, thus creating healthier and more resilient communities that are better prepared for future challenges.
Source: Institute of Medicine
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Alabama's Health Care Crisis: Task Force Looks to Lower Costs, Expand Services in Rural Areas
Apr 16, 2015 - Describes the efforts of the Alabama Health Care Improvement Task Force to find ways to make healthcare more accessible and affordable to the state's most rural and underserved residents.
Source: Alabama Media Group
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CMS Releases First Ever Hospital Compare Star Ratings
Apr 16, 2015 - CMS has released the first comparison ratings on Hospital Compare. The star ratings are based on data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey (HCAHPS), which measures patient perceptions of hospital staff communication and responsiveness, and hospital cleanliness, among other things.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Frontier and Remote Area Codes Updated
Apr 15, 2015 - The Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, has updated the Frontier and Remote Area (FAR) codes based on 2010 data.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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CMS: Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Electronic Health Record Incentive Program-Modifications to Meaningful Use in 2015 Through 2017; Proposed Rule Federal Register
Apr 15, 2015 - CMS proposed rule would change the Electronic Health Record Incentive Program reporting period in 2015-2016, remove redundant and duplicative reporting requirements, and modifies required patient engagement actions.
Source: Federal Register
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Federal Appeals Court Throws out Rural Hospital Suit
Apr 15, 2015 - Reports that District of Columbia Circuit Court has ruled in favor of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a lawsuit brought by 60 rural hospitals. The hospitals claimed that reimbursement calculations performed by HHS were unfairly applied.
Source: Fierce Health Finance
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CMS Announces Opportunity to Apply for Navigator Grants in Federally-facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces
Apr 15, 2015 - Announces funding to support Navigators in Federally-facilitated Marketplaces, including State Partnership Marketplaces. Navigators are organizations and individuals that provide objective information about, and assist consumers with enrolling in, qualified health plans.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Payment and Policy Changes for Medicare Skilled Nursing Facilities
Apr 15, 2015 - CMS has issued a proposed rule outlining proposed Medicare payment rates for skilled nursing facilities for fiscal year 2016. Includes a summary of the proposed changes, which have continued emphasis on shifting payments from volume to value-based.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Senate Approves Bill To Change The Way Medicare Pays Doctors
Apr 15, 2015 - Kaiser Health News brings together a number of stories on the Senate's approval of the bill that will repeal the current Medicare physician payment formula. The new formula includes an Medicare physician payment increase of .5% each year through 2019, and rewards physicians that meet certain quality measures.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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HHS Announces $1 Million in New Grant Programs to Help Improve Sharing of Health Information
Apr 15, 2015 - Announces funding for the Community Interoperability Health Information Exchange Program to enable communities to work together to use health information technology tools and services to improve the health of the community.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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As Rural Hospitals Close and Strokes Increase, Focus Turns to Ambulances
Apr 14, 2015 - As more rural hospitals close, concern about access to care is rising in areas of the country that experience unusually high rates of stroke. One community in Maine is looking at ways to improve services, through incorporating telemedicine into their ambulance services and establishing a community paramedicine program.
Source: Healthcare Finance
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iVantage Study Reveals Rural Hospitals in the US Face Vulnerability but Deliver High Value to Rural Communities Nationwide
Apr 14, 2015 - iVantage Health Analytics and the National Rural Health Association released the 2015 Rural Relevance Study: Vulnerability to Value report which examined rural hospital closures and risk of closures. The report also notes that rural hospitals demonstrated high value in areas of quality, patient satisfaction, and efficiency.
Source: iVantage Health Analytics
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Job Loss Returns to Rural U.S.
Apr 14, 2015 - Provides an analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that nonmetropolitan counties have lost over 300,000 jobs from January 2014 to January 2015, while metropolitan counties have gained over 3 million jobs during the same period. Includes an interactive map showing county-level employment data.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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Medicare ‘Doc Fix’ Gaining Senate Momentum
Apr 14, 2015 - Kaiser Health News pulls together a number of stories on how the Senate is working to limit the number of amendments each party is allowed to attach to the Sustainable Growth Rate repeal bill.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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VA Extends Program for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury
Apr 13, 2015 - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced awards for the Assisted Living Pilot Program for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (AL-TBI). The program, which allows eligible veterans to be placed in private sector TBI care facilities, has been extended by the Veterans Choice Act through October 2017.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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Opportunity for All: White House Rural Council Launches “Rural Impact” Effort to Help Rural Children and Families Succeed
Apr 13, 2015 - Introduces a new White House Rural Council initiative, Rural Impact, designed to address child poverty by bringing together public and private resources to invest in rural communities.
Source: White House Rural Council
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Alaska Governor: Medicaid Reform Without Expansion Unacceptable
Apr 13, 2015 - Reports that Alaska Governor Bill Walker is holding strong to his belief that the state should not reform their Medicaid program without expanding eligibility at the same time.
Source: Associated Press via Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)
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Prevalence of Major Depression Lower Among African-American Women in Rural Areas
Apr 9, 2015 - Describes recent research finding that the prevalence of major depression may be influenced by whether or not a person lives in a rural area. Finds this influence may be positive or negative depending on a person's race.
Source: Medical News Today
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VA Makes Little Headway in Fight to Shorten Waits for Care
Apr 9, 2015 - Reports that little progress has been made in addressing long wait times for veterans seeking care from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Highlights geographic disparities for rural veterans, who often face the longest delays.
Source: Associated Press via Pioneer Press
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Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Funding Announcement: Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Grant Program (ROOR)
Apr 9, 2015 - The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) announces the release of the Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Grant Program (ROOR) to fund efforts that will focus on preventing opioid overdose in rural areas.
Source: Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
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Obstetrics a Money-Losing Challenge for Rural Hospitals
Apr 8, 2015 - Describes financial pressures for small and rural hospitals to drop expensive obstetric services despite a persistent need for them.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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Alliance Brings the Latest Cancer Treatments to Rural Kansas
Apr 8, 2015 - Describes a partnership developed by the University of Kansas Cancer Center to bring cancer treatment closer to home for rural Kansans. The partnership allows small cancer centers to provide their patients access to clinical trials without requiring them to travel to large academic centers where the trials typically take place.
Source: Kansas Health Institute
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Top Five Reasons Why the Swing Bed Program is Vital to the Long-Term Viability for Critical Access Hospitals and Rural Healthcare
Apr 8, 2015 - Blog entry by the National Rural Health Resource Center highlights why the swing bed program is important to rural healthcare.
Source: National Rural Health Resource Center
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Funding to Improve Health In Rural North Carolina Communities: When Buzzwords Meet Change
Apr 7, 2015 - This opinion piece from Allen Smart, Vice President of Programs at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, describes the role of philanthropy in addressing rural healthcare needs in North Carolina.
Source: Health Affairs GrantWatch Blog
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NRHA Announces 2015 Rural Health Award Recipients
Apr 6, 2015 - The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has announced the 2015 Rural Health Award recipients to be recognized at NRHA's 38th Annual Rural Health Conference.
Source: National Rural Health Association
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Smallest Counties Lose Population -- Again
Apr 6, 2015 - Describes a trend of population loss in rural counties across the country, attributing the loss to lower birth rates in rural areas.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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Native Americans Living in Tribal Areas Face Longer Trips to the Grocery Store
Apr 6, 2015 - Summarizes findings from a recent Economic Research Service study that looked at distance from a major grocery store for Native Americans living in tribal areas, compared to the U.S. population as a whole.
Source: Amber Waves
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The State Of Rural Hospitals
Apr 6, 2015 - Maggie Elehwany, National Rural Health Association, and Tim Size, Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, discuss the unique challenges that rural hospitals across the country and in Wisconsin are facing today. (Audio)
Source: Wisconsin Public Radio
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CMS Finalizes 2016 Payment and Policy Updates for Medicare Health and Drug Plans
Apr 6, 2015 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released the final payment changes for the Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription Drug programs.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Study: Minimum-Distance Requirements Could Harm CAHs, Rural Communities
Apr 6, 2015 - Highlights a study that identifies the negative impacts of enforcing a minimum-distance regulation on Critical Access Hospital locations.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Research Connection Could Help Answer Questions About Rural Cancer
Apr 5, 2015 - Illustrates the burden of geographic distance for rural residents seeking cancer treatment. Explains that although rural residents with cancer have a higher death rate, they are underrepresented in research studies for the same reason of long distances that exist as a barrier to healthcare. To address this research disparity between rural and urban, the University of Nebraska Medical Center has created the Breast Cancer Collaborative Registry.
Source: Harvest Public Media
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HRSA: Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection: Public Comment Request Federal Register
Apr 3, 2015 - The Health Resources and Services Administration is requesting comments, primarily from state Primary Care Offices, concerning data that must be submitted to apply for a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or a Medically Underserved Area/Population designation.
Source: Federal Register
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VA: Notice of Meeting
Apr 2, 2015 - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced a meeting of the Veterans Rural Health Advisory Committee. This committee advises the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on healthcare issues affecting enrolled veterans who reside in rural areas.
Source: Federal Register
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Rural Food Deserts
Apr 1, 2015 - Reports on a trend of grocery store closures in small, rural communities which is leading to a growing number of food deserts. Describes how these closures negatively impact a community's vibrancy, lead to a lack of healthy food options, and create a public health concern.
Source: WUIS
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CMS Delays Enforcement of 'Two Midnights' Rule for Another Month
Apr 1, 2015 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will delay enforcement of a payment policy for short hospital stays. Congress is considering repealing the sustainable growth rate bill, which includes a six-month delay in enforcement of this rule.
Source: Modern Healthcare
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Recruitment Ongoing Challenge for Rural Ambulance Services
Apr 1, 2015 - Describes the challenges of recruiting volunteer emergency medical technicians within rural communities, forcing leaders to rethink their approach. Highlights this issue in Northwestern Minnesota and North Dakota while making clear that this problem is affecting communities across the country.
Source: Grand Forks Herald
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Closing The Rural Health Connectivity Gap: How Broadband Funding Can Better Improve Care
Apr 1, 2015 - Describes the importance of broadband access in improving healthcare outcomes and lowering costs of healthcare, especially in rural areas. Makes recommendations to improve broadband connectivity in rural areas.
Source: Health Affairs Blog
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House of Representatives' 'Doc Fix' Bill Benefits Rural Hospitals
Mar 31, 2015 - Describes how the Rural Hospitals Access Act, nicknamed the "Doc Fix" bill, will help rural hospitals. Highlights the impacts on specific rural healthcare facilities in New York.
Source: Wellsville Daily Reporter
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Community Health Maps Survey
Mar 31, 2015 - Community organizations, including those serving rural communities, are invited to respond to a survey about online mapping tools. Survey responses will help improve Community Health Maps, an initiative to assist community organizations in identifying and using low-cost, easy-to-use online mapping tools.
Source: National Library of Medicine
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Health Care Workers Hard to Lure to Santa Cruz County
Mar 31, 2015 - Describes the challenges to attracting healthcare workers to rural areas such as Santa Cruz County, Arizona, which is highlighted in this article.
Source: Nogales International
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Rural Providers Will Need to Keep Pace with New Delivery Models
Mar 30, 2015 - Recaps a webinar given by Lynn Barr of the National Rural Accountable Care Consortium discussing the importance of rural healthcare providers' involvement in Accountable Care Organizations and the associated data reporting before being mandated to participate.
Source: Healio
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New Bill Improves Rural Maternity Care
Mar 30, 2015 - Describes a new, bipartisan bill introduced aimed to reduce prenatal provider shortages in rural and underserved communities to ensure access to timely and high quality maternity care.
Source: News Democrat
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Ky. Rural Hospitals Get Poor Bill of Health
Mar 30, 2015 - Describes a report recently released by the State Auditor of Kentucky that assessed the financial strength of the state's rural hospitals. Finds that the majority of Kentucky's rural hospitals rank below the national average in financial strength.
Source: The Courier-Journal
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CMS: Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Electronic Health Record Incentive Program - Stage 3 Federal Register
Mar 30, 2015 - This proposed rule specifies Stage 3 meaningful use criteria that eligible professionals and facilities must meet to qualify for incentive payments and avoid penalties. Includes rural specific criteria.
Source: Federal Register
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Senate Postpones Action on 'Doc Fix' for Two Weeks
Mar 27, 2015 - Reports on Congress' progress towards a permanent solution to the Sustainable Growth Rate formula that is due to expire on April 1. After passing the House, this article highlights the Senate's optimism to pass the 'Doc Fix' when they return from a two week recess.
Source: USA Today
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Indiana Is Battling the Worst HIV Outbreak in Its History
Mar 26, 2015 - Reports the greatest HIV outbreak in Indiana state history, citing its origin in the rural community of Austin, Indiana. Also highlights the burden of the outbreak on the only doctor's office located in Austin. Ties the outbreak to poverty and needle sharing by drug users.
Source: The Washington Post
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In-School Clinics Provide Better Healthcare for Students and the Community
Mar 25, 2015 - Describes the benefits to providing oral health services in schools, especially those located in rural areas, through the experience of Valley Middle School in House Springs, Missouri.
Source: Mid-Missouri Public Radio
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Some Farmers Warming to the Affordable Care Act
Mar 25, 2015 - Discusses both positive and negative perceptions of the Affordable Care Act held by rural farmers.
Source: Kansas Health Institute
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