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Rural Health & Human Services Top Stories

Top news stories from the past 60 days.

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 important 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 deeply discusses the growing heroine epidemic throughout the United States with note of the drugs more severe impact in rural communities. In addition to heroine being cheaper and more available to rural residents, fewer healthcare providers exist in rural communities. This creates an outcome where the hardship of drug addiction is magnified.
Source: The Atlantic
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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 Affodable 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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$22.1 Million to Improve Access to Health Care in Rural Areas
Sep 26, 2014 - Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced more than $22 million to support healthcare in rural areas, including funds that will provide resources and expertise for telehealth solutions, improve emergency medical services, and help communities build networks of care.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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Speak Your Piece: Healthcare's Future
Sep 26, 2014 - Written by Tim Size, the Executive Director of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, this piece shares an optimistic perspective on the state of rural healthcare. By using Wisconsin as an example, he argues that rural healthcare facilities and providers are at the forefront of a transforming healthcare provision system and an opportunity exists for rural to progress and lead quality healthcare in this country.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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Sometimes Signs Make All the Difference in Emergency Response
Sep 24, 2014 - This article discusses the importance of proper signage when emergency responders need to quickly address a rural emergency. It specifically talks about the experience of emergency responders in Nobles County, Minnesota and their ability to locate an accident quickly due to signage, despite being unfamiliar with the area.
Source: Emergency Management
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Give Seniors More Pharmacy Choice in Medicare
Sep 24, 2014 - Discusses a bipartisan bill introduced by Reps. H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) aimed at expanding pharmacy choice and access for seniors. It addresses the challenges that rural seniors face when they are forced to travel significant distances to retrieve their medication.
Source: The Hill
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HHS: Obamacare Coverage is Reducing Hospitals’ Unpaid Bills
Sep 24, 2014 - From the Washington Post's Wonkblog section, this article reviews some recent data from the Department of Health and Human Services that suggest savings for states who expanded Medicaid. The article specifically mentions rural hospitals in light of recent hospital closures in rural areas.
Source: The Washington Post
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Kansas Lawmakers Lead Fight To Delay Physician Supervision Rules
Sep 23, 2014 - U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran are leading a congressional effort to delay enforcement of Medicare regulations requiring physician supervision of outpatient treatments like chemotherapy and intravenous infusions. This article outlines the perspective supporting this legislation.
Source: Kansas City Public Media
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Governor Signs Telehealth Streamlining
Sep 23, 2014 - Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill to make it easier for rural patients to utilize telehealth technology. It was one of several health-related bills the governor signed into law last week. The article explains the aims of this bill as well as other signed bills in the California legislature; all part of an effort to remove barriers to telehealth usage.
Source: California Healthline
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Southern States Are Now Epicenter of HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
Sep 23, 2014 - Discusses how the demographics of those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS has changed from middle class, urban, white men to black or Latino, poor, often rural, and Southern. This article attributes the change in demographics to federal spending policies as well as social and infrastructure factors.
Source: The Washington Post
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Improving Access to Health Care (Information): How You Can Help
Sep 22, 2014 - The Commonwealth Fund has teamed up with the Nebraska Press Association (NPA) for an experiment, Rural Health News Service Pilot Project, that provides rural citizens access to unbiased health and health care information. The article describes the need for more coverage of rural healthcare and how this new program is working to address it.
Source: The Communications Network
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100 Percent of Graduating Family Medicine Residents at Marshall University Will Practice in Appalachian Communities
Sep 22, 2014 - Every family medicine resident who graduated in June, 2014,from the family and community health residency program at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine will practice medicine in central Appalachia. Seven of eight will practice in West Virginia and the last one will practice in North Carolina.
Source: Huntington News
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USDA Requests Applications for Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center
Sep 22, 2014 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that up to $2.5 million is available to establish the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center. This competitive grant is part of USDA's efforts to reduce childhood food insecurity in rural communities in America.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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Obamacare Hasn’t Saved Our Rural Clinic
Sep 18, 2014 - A perspective piece from Frank Lang, a family nurse practitioner, shares an opinion on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on rural clinics. It argues that although more people are getting insured, reimbursements to clinics depend on people coming into the clinic and, in rural California, not enough people are coming in.
Source: TIME
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When A Hospital Closes
Sep 18, 2014 - This article discusses the after math of closing the Vidant Pungo Hospital in Belhaven, North Carolina. This story gained national attention when Mayor Adam O’Neal walked 273-miles to Washington, D.C. in protest of the closure. The article digs into both the social and economic impact of the closure on the rural North Carolina town.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Census Bureau: Rural America Sees Drop in Poverty
Sep 17, 2014 - The number rural Americans living in poverty fell sharply in 2013 to 7.6 million, the U.S. Census Bureau said its annual Income and Poverty report released this week.
Source: The Des Moines Register
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Indian Country Grapples With Health Funding Shortfalls, Non-Payment
Sep 17, 2014 - Slowly but surely, tribal governments, especially those in Alaska, are receiving millions of dollars in decades of unpaid contract costs from the Indian Health Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs. This article discusses this underpayment claim and the need for financial support for Indian Health Service administration.
Source: Mint Press News
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2015 National Health Service Corps Students to Service Loan Repayment Program Application Cycle is Now Open
Sep 16, 2014 - Students to Service award recipients receive up to $120,000 tax free for three years of full-time service or six years of part-time service. Upon completion of residency, S2S recipients serve as primary care providers in an NHSC-approved site in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) of greatest need. The 2015 Students to Service application cycle closes on November 13, 2014, at 7:30 pm, ET.
Source: National Health Service Corps
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Coalition of Providers Protest Final MU Rule
Sep 16, 2014 - Seventeen provider associations are asking the federal government to immediately reverse its decision for a full year of reporting for Stage 2 of the electronic health records meaningful use program in 2015. In a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, the organizations are asking for a 90-day reporting period which, they argue, would give time for providers to continue their transition without having to drop out of the program. This article describes the stance of the coalition and the concerns it expresses if the Stage 2 Meaningful Use deadline stays in place for October 1.
Source: HealthData Management
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American Sentinel University Announces Education Partnership with National Rural Health Association
Sep 15, 2014 - American Sentinel University, an accredited career-focused online university, has been named an approved education affiliate for the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). The education partnership supports the mission of both organizations for the improved access, quality and equity in rural healthcare for rural Americans.
Source: PRWeb
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CMS Marketplace Outreach and Enrollment in Rural Communities- Join on Wed., Sept. 17 at 2pm ET
Sep 15, 2014 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services welcome you to join us for a webinar on Wednesday, September 17th on best practices for Marketplace outreach and enrollment within rural communities. Join to learn tangible outreach tactics you can use to reach individuals and families living in rural communities.
Source: CMS Office of Communications, Partner Relations Group
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Coverage Gap Leaves Rural Tennessee Hospitals on Life Support
Sep 13, 2014 - This article describes the nuances to rural hospital vitality and health reform's effect on it through the case of Tennessee and its consideration of expanding Medicaid coverage through the Affordable Care Act. It describes the current condition of small and rural hospitals in Tennessee and offers both opinions for and against Medicaid expansion.
Source: The Daily News
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Providers Like CMS' Plans to Expand Telehealth Payments—And Want More
Sep 12, 2014 - Many of the more than 100 commenters on the CMS' proposed payment rules for telehealth services approved of the expanded geographical qualifications and coverage for wellness and behavioral health visits, but some also called for further expansions into new areas, such as home health monitoring and wearable devices. The proposed rule added wellness and behavioral health visits to the list of Medicare-reimbursable telehealth items. The proposed rule also revised its definition of telehealth-eligible rural healthcare providers to include those nearer to big cities. (Full article may require free registration)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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HHS Awards More than $295 Million in Affordable Care Act Funds to Increase Access to Primary Care at Health Centers
Sep 12, 2014 - Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced today $295 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 1,195 health centers in every U.S. State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin to expand primary care services. Today’s awards enable health centers to increase access to comprehensive primary health care services by hiring an estimated 4,750 new staff including new health care providers, staying open for longer hours, and expanding the care they provide to include new services such as oral health, behavioral health, pharmacy, and vision services.
Source: Department of Health and Human Services
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Healthcare Shortage Could Have Far-Reaching Effects in Rural Nebraska
Sep 12, 2014 - This article discusses a report by the Institute of Medicine released in July predicting an eventual national physician shortage. It articulates the impact of such a shortage on rural communities in Nebraska.
Source: Daily Nebraskan
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OIG: CMS Has Yet To Enforce a Statutory Provision Related to Rural Health Clinics
Sep 11, 2014 - The Office of Inspector General has released a report concerning Rural Health Clinic (RHC) certification, concluding that although 12 percent of RHCs no longer met the location requirements in 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has yet to issue final regulations that would allow RHCs that do not meet the location requirements to qualify as essential-provider RHCs.
Source: Office of Inspector General
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New Careers in Nursing Program Helps Minnesota College Expand and Diversify While Improving Care in Rural Communities
Sep 10, 2014 - This article provides an update on unique program launched in 2008 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF); New Careers in Nursing program (NCIN). It uniquely focuses on attracting a diverse group of “second-career” students to nursing, which grows the nursing profession and brings diversity to the college campus. NCIN makes grants to schools of nursing so they can provide $10,000 scholarships to aspiring nurses who have already earned degrees in other disciplines, as they enter accelerated baccalaureate and masters nursing programs. The article specifically discusses its impact on the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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State CAH Hospital Compare Reports Posted
Sep 10, 2014 - All 45 state-level reports examining Critical Access Hospitals’ performance and reporting rates on Hospital Compare measures, originally distributed to Flex Coordinators and State Offices of Rural Health in June 2014, are now available for download on www.flexmonitoring.org. These reports utilize Hospital Compare data from April 2012 through March 2013.
Source: Flex Monitoring Team
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Bringing Hope to Native Communities: Resources for Suicide Prevention
Sep 9, 2014 - This article discusses suicide prevention and its prevalence among the American Indian and Alaska Native population. Furthermore, it offers information for suicide prevention resources helping address this challenge.
Source: Administration for Children and Families
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House Passes Bill to Undo Rural Hospital Supervision Requirement
Sep 9, 2014 - The House on Tuesday passed legislation to delay enforcement of supervision requirements for outpatient therapeutic services in certain hospitals. Passed by voice vote, the bill would prevent the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from requiring Critical Access Hospitals and small rural hospitals from needing a physician to supervise therapeutic services like drawing blood.
Source: The Hill
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1,916 Square Miles and No Psychiatrist
Sep 9, 2014 - This article describes the lack of mental health services in the rural community of Essex County, New York. It goes on to describe how this condition is not unique to Essex County, rather, many rural areas across the United States are lacking access to quality mental health resources.
Source: North Country Public Radio
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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Announces Grants to Aid Boys and Young Men of Color in Rural South and Southwest
Sep 9, 2014 - The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), in partnership with Public Interest Projects, announced a package of new grants to promote opportunity and health for young men of color in rural communities in the South and Southwest. The grants of $415,000 each are directed to improve the health and success of rural middle school and high school boys and young men of color.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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Rural Enrollment Presents Continuing Health Law Challenges
Sep 8, 2014 - The article describes the unique challenges, and the emerging disparity, that rural communities face to enrolling in healthcare insurance, especially with the recent increase enrollment through the Affordable Care Act. Enrollment of these rural residents is a top concern and they are expected to be a key target as states and nonprofit groups strategize how to enroll more people in a health insurance plan this fall.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Telemedicine Fills Pharmacy Services Gap Following Rural Store Closures
Sep 5, 2014 - Digital health care company TelePharm has received $2.5 million in funding from Iowa investors to bring remote pharmacy services to patients across the state’s rural communities. The article explains how TelePharm plans to improve patient care, lower costs, and increase healthcare accessibility for underserved rural areas as more pharmacies close.
Source: Pharmacy Times
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Open Funding Opportunity: Rural Health Care Services Outreach Grant Program
Sep 5, 2014 - The Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) has announced the release of the FY 2012 Rural Health Care Services Outreach Grant Program that supports projects that demonstrate effective models of outreach and service delivery through collaboration, adoption of an evidence-based or promising practice model, demonstration of health outcomes, replicability and sustainability.
Source: Office of Rural Health Policy
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Rural Hospitals Pressured to Close as Healthcare System Changes
Sep 3, 2014 - By focusing on the experience of Linden, Texas, whose hospital closed this spring due to declining volume and reduced reimbursement payments, this article illustrates the severity of rural hospital closures in recent years. Furthermore, it provides analysis on how the Affordable Care Act may be exacerbating the pressure felt by small and rural healthcare facilities.
Source: Thomson Reuters
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Special September 2014 Tribal Consultation to Discuss Possible Nutrition Assistance Program Administration Changes
Sep 2, 2014 - The IMPAQ team has been asked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to work with tribal nations and their leadership to determine the feasibility and interest of tribal nation administration of federal nutrition assistance programs. The IMPAQ team is seeking your input and opinions. Specific dates concerning invitation to participate are included in this article.
Source: The IMPAQ team
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As Newly Insured Seek Care, Rural Doctor Shortage Worsens
Sep 1, 2014 - The Seattle Times article tells how the Affordable Care Act is increasing healthcare coverage for more people which is straining an already strained rural healthcare system in Washington. It describes how rural communities have long suffered a physician shortage and with more people utilizing healthcare services after gaining health insurance coverage, the physician shortage is even more apparent and significant. This article discusses why the shortage exists in rural areas, how people are reacting to it, and how this challenge may be contributing to a renewed focus on rural healthcare.
Source: The Seattle Times
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