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Top news stories from the past 14 days. Please visit the News Archive for earlier stories.

10 Alabama hospitals have closed in the last 3 years: Will yours be next?
Apr 17, 2014 -- A blog post on Alabama Media Group reports on an alarming amount of hospital closings in Alabama in the last three years, citing a variety of pressures with mention of rural hospitals getting the worst of those pressures.

Cracking Colorado’s Rural Healthcare Conundrum
Apr 16, 2014 -- The Colorado Independent article outlines challenges rural Colorado healthcare providers face in lieu of changes under the Affordable Care Act and offers telehealth and telemedicine as a possible solution.

FAQ On ACOs: Accountable Care Organizations, Explained
Apr 16, 2014 -- Kaiser Health News offers an article to help answer the most common questions about a timely, new healthcare delivery model that is spreading quickly throughout the country: Accountable Care Organizations.

OB Care In Small Towns
Apr 16, 2014 -- A Keloland Television article featuring a new Sioux Center Health building to help highlight the lack of obstetric care providers in rural communities.

Poll: Uninsured Rate for Adults Down More in Certain States
Apr 16, 2014 -- American Hospital Association: The uninsured rate for adults has declined more this year in states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and set up state or partnership exchanges than it has in other states, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey.

CMS Revises Application Request for ESRD Payment, Care Delivery Model
Apr 15, 2014 -- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today released a revised Request for Applications for the Comprehensive End-Stage Renal Disease Care Model.

Op-ed: Accessing Mental Health Care Still a Challenge in CT’s Rural Areas
Apr 15, 2014 -- An Op-ed piece argues that although we are making strides for better healthcare quality and access in the United States, there still remains issues surrounding rural residents living with mental illness.

Poll: 58% of Health Care Organizations Disappointed in ICD-10 Delay
Apr 15, 2014 -- iHealthBeat article discusses poll findings concerning sentiments towards the delay of the ICD-10 transition mandate. It reports that the majority of health care organizations are disappointed in the one-year delay of ICD-10.

Assessment of Rural Hospitals Warns of Fiscal Trials and Tribulations Ahead
Apr 14, 2014 -- Mississippi Business Journal puts forth a bleak outlook for rural health facilities in Mississippi. Citing a study by the state auditor, "The Financial Health of Publicly Owned Rural Mississippi Hospitals". The article points out some positive attributes of rural health in Mississippi, but outlines national pressures and the effects they will have on the pocketbooks of rural Mississippi health in the future.

Challenges to Two-Midnight and Related Policies Filed
Apr 14, 2014 -- The American Hospital Association, four hospital associations and a number of hospitals today challenged in federal court the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ new two-midnight rule and a related offset to Medicare payments, which they claim burden hospitals with arbitrary standards and documentation requirements and deprive them of Medicare reimbursement to which they are entitled.

CMS Proposes Adoption of Updated Life Safety Code
Apr 14, 2014 -- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced a proposed rule on the adoption of updated life safety code (LSC) that CMS would use in its ongoing work to ensure the health and safety of all patients, family and staff in every provider and supplier setting.

HRSA: National Advisory Council on the National Health Service Corps; Notice of Meeting
Apr 14, 2014 -- The National Advisory Council on the National Health Service Corps is holding a meeting via conference call to provide program updates and discuss the potential growth of the National Health Service Corps. The public can join the meeting via audio conference call.

ObamaCare costs lower than expected, CBO says
Apr 14, 2014 -- The Hill: ObamaCare's health insurance benefits will cost the federal government $104 billion less than previously expected over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Monday.

PRCHNH Forced to Cut Staff and Hours
Apr 14, 2014 -- Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home, of Mississippi, is facing tough times, the Picayune Item reports. To keep the doors open, the hospital has had to eliminate 19 positions and enact hour reductions.

Tax Credit Extension Sought to Aid Rural Providers
Apr 14, 2014 -- Modern Healthcare: Advocates are trying to persuade Congress to permanently extend a tax incentive program that helps small and rural healthcare providers obtain financing for building and expansion projects.

Tim Size: Low Rural Rankings Show Need to Build Culture of Health
Apr 13, 2014 -- The Cap Times offers an article from Tim Size, Director of Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, discussing the breadth of factors that contribute to quality healthcare in a rural community.

Budget Chief Is Obama’s Choice as New Health Secretary
Apr 11, 2014 -- The New York Times is reporting President Obama's nomination after the resignation of former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Funding Cycle Open: Regional Partnership Grants to Increase the Well-Being of, and to Improve the Permanency Outcomes for, Children Affected by Substance Abuse
Apr 11, 2014 -- Funding for collaborative regional partnerships that provide activities and services designed to increase the well-being, improve permanency outcomes, and enhance the safety of children and families experiencing substance use disorders.
Learn more about: Regional Partnership Grants to Increase the Well-Being of, and to Improve the Permanency Outcomes for, Children Affected by Substance Abuse

Georgia Officials Have Limited Options To Save Rural Hospitals
Apr 11, 2014 -- With nine rural hospitals having closed since the year 2000, Georgia is looking for options to keep rural healthcare facilities open. GPB News (GA) article discusses a variety of reasons with which these hospitals have been struggling and how both the governor and the legislature are working to address the challenge.

HRSA: Notice of Availability of Final Policy Document     Federal Register 
Apr 11, 2014 -- Notice of the Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) clarifying governance requirements for section 330-funded health centers and look-alikes which support the delivery of preventive and primary care services to medically underserved communities and vulnerable populations.

NOSORH Announces Grant Writing Institute 2014: Beyond the Basics
Apr 11, 2014 -- NOSORH has announced its first ever Grant Writing Institute 2014: Beyond the Basics. The course is designed for individuals looking for education beyond the introductory or beginning level to expand their rural health grant writing credentials.
Learn more about: NOSORH Grantwriting Institute: Beyond the Basics

Western Kansas Hospitals Meet to Improve Healthcare
Apr 11, 2014 -- In rural areas like western Kansas, a lack of resources, medical professionals, and long distances between patients and their caregivers can make rural healthcare a challenge. A KSN article discusses an innovative health network, the Pioneer Health Network, aimed to improve the quality of rural healthcare delivery.

Barriers Remain Despite Health Law's Push To Expand Access To Substance Abuse Treatment
Apr 10, 2014 -- Kaiser Health News in collaboration with USA Today released an article discussing the challenges facing substance abuse treatment despite sweeping changes implement by the passing of the nation's new health law to help millions of people with drug or alcohol addiction get treatment. Access to treatment centers is a key concern.

House Approves Budget Plan
Apr 10, 2014 -- American Hospital Association reports the House of Representatives today voted 219-205 along party lines to approve a budget resolution for fiscal year 2015 that would cut government spending by $5.1 trillion over 10 years.

How a Rural State Manages to Lead the Way in EHR Adoption
Apr 10, 2014 -- EHR Intelligence article reports that a generally safe assumption in healthcare is that academic and urban clinical settings outpace critical access and rural health centers. However, a recent report by SK&A shows that states with high rural populations like Utah, Wyoming, Iowa, and the Dakotas rank among the top-five states for EHR adoption.

Sebelius Reports 7.5 Million Sign Ups Through Health Insurance Marketplace
Apr 10, 2014 -- American Hospital Association article reports that about 400,000 people have signed up for health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace since March 31, bringing the total to about 7.5 million, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the Senate Finance Committee today.

Study: More Kids in USA Have Health Insurance
Apr 10, 2014 -- A new report from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) shows the percentage of U.S. children who lack health insurance fell to just 7.5 percent in 2012, the most recent year of data available. The percentage of children who were uninsured nationwide dropped from 9.7 percent in 2008. SHADAC is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Number of Uninsured Is Dropping, but Not Thanks to Obamacare Exchanges
Apr 10, 2014 -- The Wire reports: Two new surveys clearly show that the number of people who lack health insurance in the United States has dropped — but largely not because people have enrolled in Obamacare exchanges.

When Rural Hospitals Close, Towns Struggle to Stay Open
Apr 10, 2014 -- Marketplace articles reports a healthcare crisis in America that you might not have heard about: Rural hospitals are closing at a rate that’s starting to get some politicians’ attention. This is having a negative impact on the surrounding economy.

Dental Partnerships in Indian Country Outlined
Apr 9, 2014 -- The American Dental Association describes an emerging public-private partnership to improve the oral health of Native Americans in congressional testimony April 8 and invited Congress to participate.

Early Drug Claims Suggest Exchange Plan Enrollees Are Sicker Than Average
Apr 9, 2014 -- A Kaiser Health News article reports on an analysis of the first two months of claims data showing that the new enrollees are more likely to use expensive specialty drugs to treat conditions like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C than those with job-based insurance.

Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data
Apr 9, 2014 -- Data are being released on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid website that summarize the utilization and payments for procedures and services provided to Medicare fee-for service beneficiaries by specific inpatient and outpatient hospitals, physicians, and other suppliers.

Nine Million Got New Health Insurance, Study Finds
Apr 9, 2014 -- NBC News article reports that more than 9 million Americans have gotten health insurance for the first time thanks to Obamacare, according to a new report from the Rand Corporation.

Ongoing and Past Work Identified Access Problems That May Delay Needed Medical Care for Veterans
Apr 9, 2014 -- The Government Accountability Office's ongoing work examining Veterans Health Administration's management of outpatient specialty care consults identified examples of delays in veterans receiving outpatient specialty care, as well as limitations in the Department of Veterans Affairs' , Veterans Health Administration's implementation of new consult business rules designed to standardize aspects of the clinical consult process.

Rural States: Steal These 4 HIT/Mobile Health Ideas from Wyoming
Apr 9, 2014 -- MEDCity News article report on four HIT/Mobile Health tips other rural states can look to from Wyoming Medicaid while implementing their own HIT/Mobile Health programs.

UW Students Learn Rural Medicine in Grand Coulee
Apr 9, 2014 -- Coulee Medical Center is among the smallest of a handful of facilities used by the university in its five-state area for a set of programs designed to introduce medical students to rural medicine, according to this article from The Star, Grand Coulee, WA.

HHS Announces Progress in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Apr 8, 2014 -- The nation’s health is improving in more than half of the critical measures that are known to have major influence in reducing preventable disease and death, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Northwest Patients to Gain Easy Access to Clinicians' Notes
Apr 8, 2014 -- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation article describes a unique regional collaboration among nine prominent health systems and medical groups in the Northwest that will provide more than one million patients in Oregon and Southwest Washington with electronic access to the notes their providers include in medical records.

Report Estimates Savings from Medical/Behavioral Health Integration
Apr 8, 2014 -- American Hospital Association reports that effective integration of medical and behavioral health services could reduce health care spending by $26 billion to $48 billion annually, according to a report by Milliman Inc. released by the American Psychiatric Association.

Advisory Committee on Training in Primary Care Medicine and Dentistry Seeking Nominations
Apr 7, 2014 -- The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is seeking nominations of individuals for appointment to the Advisory Committee on Training in Primary Care Medicine and Dentistry (ACTPCMD).

Bridging the Gap with Telemedicine
Apr 7, 2014 -- Hospitals and Health Networks Daily offers a video on Mercy's telemedicine program. Wendy Deibert, R.N., vice president, Mercy Telehealth Services, discusses the system's telemedicine strategy, which includes an infusion of funds from a federal grant.

CMS Finalizes Medicare Advantage Payment Policies for 2015
Apr 7, 2014 -- The American Hospital Association reports that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services late today released final capitation rates and payment policies for private Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans beginning in contract year 2015. CMS estimates the overall net change to plan payments between 2014 and 2015 will be 0.4%, up from an estimated -1.9% for proposals in the Advance Notice.

FDA: Proposed Risk-Based Regulatory Framework and Strategy for Health Information Technology Report; Notice to Public of Availability of the Report and Web Site Location; Request for Comments     Federal Register 
Apr 7, 2014 -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) is announcing the availability of the report and website location where the Agency has posted the report entitled “Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA) Health IT Report: Proposed Risk Based Regulatory Framework.” In addition, FDA has established a docket where stakeholders may provide comments.

Migration Drives Population Loss
Apr 7, 2014 -- The Daily Yonder reports that the loss of non-metro population in the last three years has been the result of migration, not births and deaths. That means the size of the rural populations could recover – if the economy does.

Nonmetro Counties: Gains and Losses
Apr 7, 2014 -- Daily Yonder article using Census data to graphically illustrate county population growth rates from 2010-2013; highlighting rural growth in North Dakota.

Oncologists: Future of Rural Cancer Care Seen as 'Dire'
Apr 7, 2014 -- The High Plains/Midwest AG Journal discusses that for many rural Americans, access to quality cancer care in the future could be threatened as the growing demand for services outstrips the supply of oncologists and the cost of care continues to soar.

Uninsured Rate Lowest Since 2008
Apr 7, 2014 -- According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, in the U.S., the uninsured rate dipped to 15.6% in the first quarter of 2014, a 1.5-percentage-point decline from the fourth quarter of 2013. The uninsured rate is now at the lowest level recorded since late 2008.

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Funding for this project was supported by Grant Number U56RH05539 from the Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents of this website are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the funder.