Top news stories from the past 14 days. Please visit the News Archive for earlier stories.
GOP Senators Call For Details on Administration Plan to Grant Exemptions from Electronic Health Records Regulations
Mar 7, 2014 -- U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions article reports Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.),
Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) yesterday called
on the administration to provide details on its plan to grant health care
providers exemptions from new electronic health records regulations instead of
granting additional time as groups nationwide have requested.
President's Budget: Selected Resources and Reactions
Mar 7, 2014 -- President Obama released his 2015 budget proposal on
March 4th which outlines the Administration’s suggested
priorities for Congress as they work to put forth a 2015
federal budget to be enacted October 1st. Here are some
useful links to access official budget documents, as well
as see selected reactions from the field.
SAMHSA is Accepting Applications for up to $30 Million in Grants to Help People Experiencing Homelessness
Mar 7, 2014 -- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for fiscal year 2014 Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals - Services in Supportive Housing. The program’s purpose is to support the development and/or expansion of local implementation and community infrastructures that integrate treatment and services for substance use, co-occurring substance use and mental disorders, permanent housing, and other critical services for the following: veterans who experience homelessness or chronic homelessness, and other individuals (non-veterans) who experience chronic homelessness.
Learn more about: Services in Supportive Housing Program
Changes to Health Law Rules Include Extra Month to Enroll in 2015
Mar 6, 2014 -- Kaiser Health News article reports that the Obama administration has released a broad set of regulatory changes to the health law that would give some consumers additional time to stay in plans that do not comply with all its coverage requirements and all consumers more time to enroll in coverage come 2015.
Women Still Left Out of Medical Research: Report
Mar 6, 2014 -- HealthDay News article reports that two decades after the passage of a landmark law mandating that women be represented in government-funded medical research, a new report reveals that the world of science is still ignoring women's unique health issues far more than it should.
Health Care Agency Passes $1 Trillion Milestone
Mar 5, 2014 -- Yahoo! News article reports that President Barack Obama's budget pushes Health and Human Services spending over $1 trillion for the first time, reflecting an aging population adding to the Medicare rolls, as well as expanded coverage for younger people through the new health law.
SAMHSA Unveils FY 2015 Budget Request of 3.6 Billion
Mar 5, 2014 -- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration (SAMHSA) is announcing that the budget
request is $3.6 billion for the agency in FY 2015.
Supporting Iowa Rural Provider Capacity Through Community Care Coordination Teams
Mar 5, 2014 -- National Academy for State Health Policy article tells of a brief that explores Iowa's path to piloting shared community-based teams, from conception and planning to launch, and offers a framework for policy action for states and other organizations considering leading similar efforts. Shared community-based teams are a growing trend among states seeking to build provider capacity, especially for small and rural practices.
The Rural Health Impact of the President’s FY 2015 Budget
Mar 5, 2014 -- NRHA Rural Health Voices Blog reports that President Obama’s budget proposal continues to be a source of concern for many rural health providers. While the non-binding budget proposal is unlikely to be adopted by Congress, the President again proposes cuts to the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) system and other members of the rural health safety net.
HUD Announces Funding to Provide Permanent Housing and Services to Low-Income People with Disabilities
Mar 4, 2014 -- To help prevent thousands of people with disabilities from experiencing homelessness or unnecessary institutionalization, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced the availability of approximately $120 million in funding for state housing agencies to provide long term project-based rental assistance to extremely low-income persons with disabilities, many of whom are transitioning out of institutional settings or are at high risk of homelessness.
Report: About 18% of U.S. Adults Experience Mental Illness Each Year
Mar 4, 2014 -- AHA News Now article reports that about 18.2% of U.S. adults experienced a mental illness in 2011 or 2012, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. State averages ranged from 14.7% in New Jersey to 22.3% in Utah.
Some States Find Ways to Restore Cut Food Stamp Funding
Mar 4, 2014 -- NPR article reports that this month, a new round of food stamp cuts is set to take effect. The farm bill passed last month closed a loophole called "Heat and Eat," saving the country about $8.5 billion over the next decade, but some states have found a way to restore that funding.
The Evidence for Community Paramedicine in Rural Areas: State and Local Findings and the Role of the State Flex Program
Mar 4, 2014 -- Wisconsin Office of Rural Health article tells of a study by the Flex Monitoring Team that examined the evidence base for community paramedicine in rural communities, the role of community paramedics in rural healthcare delivery systems, the challenges faced by states in implementing community paramedicine programs, and the role of the state Flex programs in supporting development of community paramedicine programs.
Daschle, Former Senators Form Alliance to Lobby for New Telehealth Rules
Mar 3, 2014 -- Washington Post, (DC) article tells how Thomas A. Daschle, a former Democratic senator from South Dakota, with help from former senators Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and John Breaux (D-La.), has created a coalition of companies at the intersection of health and technology to push for changing regulations governing telehealth that would improve access to health care in rural areas.
Government Expands Help for Buying Health Insurance
Mar 3, 2014 -- With just a month left for Americans to select health plans this year through new insurance marketplaces, the Obama administration is bending some rules to prevent people from being stranded without coverage because of state-run exchanges riddled with computer problems.
MultiPlan to Award $30,000 in Grants to Rural Hospitals
Mar 3, 2014 -- PRWeb article reports that MultiPlan, Inc. is accepting applications for its 2014 Rural Health Outreach Grant. The program, now in its 19th year, awards hospitals serving rural areas financial grants to help them introduce or expand services, education, screenings and other endeavors aimed at improving the health of people in their communities.
Learn more about: MultiPlan's Rural Health Outreach Grant Program
Tavenner: No ICD-10 Delay, but Expect Some MU Relief
Mar 3, 2014 -- HealthLeaders Media article reports that CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner has announced that the ICD-10 deadline will not be delayed, but she is offering relief to providers, payers, and health information technology vendors struggling to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements.
Telemedicine: Doctor Visits via Video Calls
Mar 3, 2014 -- Bloomberg Businessweek article discusses how hundreds of employers of all sizes are contracting directly or through their insurers with telehealth providers to cut medical costs and give workers 24-hour access to doctors and nurse practitioners.
USDA Finalizes Changes to the WIC Program, Expanding Access to Healthy Fruits and Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Low-Fat Dairy for Women, Infants, and Children
Mar 3, 2014 -- The U. S. Department of Agriculture has finalized changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to further improve the nutrition and health of the nation's low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and young children.
Federally Funded Health Centers Brace for Financial Loss
Feb 28, 2014 -- USA Today article discusses how federally funded health care centers, already straining to makes ends meet, now are fighting to block a 70% cut in their funding next year.
For Rural Volunteers, It’s Fire and Ice
Feb 28, 2014 -- Daily Yonder article tells how on the ice in sub-zero temperatures, two rural Wisconsin fire departments train for some of the worst conditions that Northern winters can throw at rescuers by going to frozen lakes to practice ice rescue techniques.
SAMHSA Report Provides Information on Mental Illness Levels in Each State and the District of Columbia
Feb 28, 2014 -- A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides an overview of the nature and scope of mental illness within each state and the District of Columbia.
Allopathic and Osteopathic Medical Communities Commit to a Single Graduate Medical Education Accreditation System
Feb 27, 2014 -- American Osteopathic Association article reports that an agreement reached between allopathic and osteopathic medical communities will unite graduate medical education programs for physicians in training with either degree under a single accreditation system to ensure consistency in evaluation and accountability across all residency programs.
Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services Announce Record-Breaking Recoveries Resulting from Joint Efforts to Combat Health Care Fraud
Feb 27, 2014 -- Attorney General Eric Holder and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have released the annual Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program report showing that for every dollar spent on health care-related fraud and abuse investigations through this and other programs in the last three years, the government recovered $8.10. Government teams recovered $4.3 billion in FY 2013 and $19.2 billion over the last five years.
FCC Looking for More Providers to Subsidize
Feb 27, 2014 -- Health Data Management article reports that more than a year after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the $400 million annual Healthcare Connect Fund to expand provider access to broadband, especially in rural areas, and
to encourage the creation of state and regional broadband health care
networks, the FCC is struggling to attract providers to take advantage of the broadband subsidy.
Obama Budget Will Seek Record Funding for New Doctors
Feb 27, 2014 -- USA Today article reports that according to administration officials, President Obama, in his budget next week, will propose boosting the National Health Services Corps from 8,900 providers a year to 15,000 a year over the next five years, as well as spending $5.23 billion to train 13,000 primary care residents over the next 10 years.
U.S. Proposes Major Update to Food Labels in Bid to Combat Obesity
Feb 27, 2014 -- Reuters article reports that packaged foods sold in the United States would display calorie counts more prominently and include the amount of added sugar under a proposal to significantly update nutritional labels for the first time in 20 years as health officials seek to reduce obesity and combat related diseases such as diabetes.
A Small Library with Big Ideas
Feb 26, 2014 -- Daily Yonder article tells how small the Myrtle, Missouri library leaves a big imprint on its patrons. Librarian Rachel Reynolds Luster shows how libraries create access and opportunity in rural communities.
Rural Children Are More Likely to be Obese, but Rural Communities Have Several Strategies to Fight the Problem
Feb 26, 2014 -- Lane Report article reports that children living in rural areas are about 25 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than children in urban areas, studies show. Rural communities have come up with several strategies to battle childhood obesity.
Rural Lawmakers Struggle to Make Themselves Heard
Feb 26, 2014 -- Associated Press article via the Crookston Times, (MN) reports that rural lawmakers are an endangered species in many state legislatures as more Americans move to urban centers or suburban cities. Lawmakers and political experts say the dwindling numbers of farmers, ranchers and others who make their living off the land affects not just agricultural policy but other rural concerns — highways, health care, schools and high-speed Internet access.
Senate Bill Introduced to Remove 96-Hour Certification Requirement for CAHs
Feb 26, 2014 -- AHA News Now article reports that Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Jon Tester (D-MT) have introduced a Senate companion (S. 2037) to the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act, legislation that would remove the 96-hour physician certification requirement as a condition of payment for critical access hospitals.
Voluntary 2015 Edition Electronic Health Record (EHR) Certification Criteria; Interoperability Updates and Regulatory Improvements; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking With Comment Period
Feb 26, 2014 -- This notice of proposed rulemaking from the Department of Health and Human Services introduces the beginning of the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's (ONC's) more frequent approach to health information technology certification regulations.
Growth in Food Stamps Levels Off in 2013
Feb 25, 2014 -- Daily Yonder article reports that USDA’s spending on nutrition programs climbed to historically high levels in 2013 for the 13th consecutive year. But the rate of growth in the food stamp program declined to its lowest level since 2007, a new report from the Economic Research Service says.
Health IT Transforming Rural Care
Feb 25, 2014 -- HealthcareIT News article tells how at pre-conference symposium, "Health IT and Rural Healthcare: Embracing Opportunities and Overcoming Challenges," stakeholders gathered to learn more about the ways health IT is being
deployed to address the unique challenges of rural care delivery.
Loan Repayment Program for Repayment of Health Professions Educational Loans
Feb 25, 2014 -- Funding is available from the Indian Health Service for a loan repayment program for health professions educational loans (undergraduate and graduate) in return for full-time clinical service in Indian health programs. This program announcement is subject to the appropriation of funds.
Learn more about: Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program
SAMHSA is Accepting Applications for up to $25.2 Million for Services Grant Program for Residential Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women
Feb 25, 2014 -- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for grants that will expand the availability of comprehensive, residential substance abuse treatment, prevention, and recovery support services for pregnant and postpartum women and their minor children, including services for non-residential family members of both the women and children.
Learn more about: Services Grant Program for Residential Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women
The White House and USDA Announce School Wellness Standards
Feb 25, 2014 -- First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have announced proposed school wellness standards and roll out of breakfast and lunch programs for schools that serve low income communities
CMS Proposes 2015 Payment and Policy Updates for Medicare Health and Drug Plans
Feb 24, 2014 -- Beneficiaries can get greater protections, value, and care in the Medicare services they receive through the proposed policies released today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The 2015 Advance Notice and draft Call Letter takes important steps to improve payment accuracy for Medicare Advantage (Part C) for 2015.
Number of Farms Declines in Latest Census
Feb 24, 2014 -- Daily Yonder article reports that the latest Ag Census shows the number of farms is declining and the average age of farmers is increasing. Most of the nation's 2.1 million farms continue to earn less than $50,000 a year from their operations, the survey says.
ONC Proposes 2015 Edition EHR Certification Criteria
Feb 24, 2014 -- AHA News Now article reports that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has released a proposed rule for the 2015 edition electronic health record certification criteria. According to ONC, this rule is the beginning of a proposed annual regulatory update to the standards and certification criteria for EHRs “in order to provide smaller, more incremental regulatory changes and policy proposals.
Study: Rural Dental Therapists Help More Patients
Feb 24, 2014 -- High Plains Midwest AG Journal article tells how the first U.S. private practice dentist to add a dental therapist to his team was able to see a significant number of new patients, increase treatment of Medicaid patients, as well as increase profits, according to a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts, and partially funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.