Rural Health
Top Stories

Top news stories from the past 60 days. For more, see news by topic or news by state.

DOJ Announces More than $107 Million to Improve Safety, Services for American Indians
Sep 27, 2016 - At the 8th Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference, the Department of Justice announced more than $107 million in grants to American Indian and Alaska Native communities. These grants will be used to hire law enforcement, study sex trafficking in Indian country, address alcohol and substance abuse, create tribal youth programs, and help tribes prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence, among other things.
Source: Native Times
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Opioid Crisis in Rural Areas May Be Tackled Through Telemedicine
Sep 27, 2016 - Details efforts to use telemedicine to treat opioid addiction in rural areas, including some of the unique challenges inherent in this approach.
Source: The Washington Post
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A Toilet, but No Proper Plumbing: A Reality in 500,000 U.S. Homes
Sep 26, 2016 - Focuses on the lack of infrastructure in rural Alabama and the people who live with broken septic systems or without any septic system at all, resulting in raw sewage out in the open. Nearly 500,000 U.S. households do not have hot and cold running water, a bathtub or shower, or a working flush toilet.
Source: The New York Times
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Tom Vilsack's Lonely Fight for a 'Forgotten' Rural America
Sep 26, 2016 - Details Secretary Tom Vilsack's efforts to address the opioid epidemic, the evolution of his career, and his focus on the needs of rural America.
Source: The Washington Post
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Request for Information on State Innovation Model Concepts
Sep 26, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released a slideshow clarifying details on the State Innovation Models (SIM) initiative. The initiative was launched in 2013 as a way for state governments to accelerate healthcare transformation efforts in their states, with a primary goal to transform over 80% of payments to providers into innovative payment and service delivery models.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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The Revolution in EMS Care
Sep 25, 2016 - Details the increasingly sophisticated equipment and techniques used by EMS crews in both urban and rural areas. This includes the evolution of EMS workers' roles to include, in some places, providing preventive care through regularly scheduled house calls for patients who have difficulty leaving their homes or who lack access to traditional primary care providers.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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Patients' Time at Home after a Stroke Varies by Hospital
Sep 23, 2016 - A new study has found that stroke patients spend more of the year following their stroke at home, as opposed to in a nursing home or in the hospital, if they are treated at a rural hospital or a hospital which typically treats higher rates of stroke patients. The correlation between more home time and lower rates of major adverse cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality suggests that home time could be a marker of care quality.
Source: Reuters Health News
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Still Counting Casualties Inside Appalachia: How Invisible Scars Lead To Veteran Suicide
Sep 23, 2016 - According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the risk for suicide among veterans is worse in rural areas. Includes a video of the original radio broadcast which featured the stories of five veterans from West Virginia who were recently in a documentary called Still Taking Casualities.
Source: WV Public Broadcasting
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Sen. Rounds Continues Push for IHS Audit as Two Reform Bills Clear Initial Hurdles
Sep 22, 2016 - U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) is advocating for an audit of Indian Health Services (IHS) as an amendment to one of the two IHS reform bills which have recently passed out of committee in an effort to improve the quality of the care provided by IHS.
Source: The Daily Republic
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Quapaw Entrepreneur and Visionary Transformed Tribal Healthcare
Sep 22, 2016 - A member of the Quapaw tribe of Oklahoma founded a private insurance company in response to his growing perception that tribal businesses and people who did not have health insurance expertise were being taken advantage of by other health insurance companies. This is particularly concerning in areas where Native Americans do not have access to Indian Health Services. His efforts resulted in universal health coverage and dramatically increased use of medical services for members of his tribe.
Source: Indian Country Today Media Network
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Committee Passes Bill to Reform the Indian Health Service
Sep 21, 2016 - The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs passed the Indian Health Service Accountability Act of 2016 which is anticipated to improve patient safety and quality of care by increasing accountability and transparency at the Indian Health Service. The committee passed this act based on feedback from tribes and the administration to address what they characterized as persistent failures by the Indian Health Service.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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Indian Health Service Awards $6.8 Million Telemedicine Services Contract to Avera Health
Sep 20, 2016 - The Indian Health Service announced a contract with Avera Health for $6.8 million to provide telemedicine services to all 19 Great Plains Area service units. This is anticipated to strengthen existing services as well as increasing access to specialty services for the 130,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives served by these units.
Source: Indian Health Service
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Doctors Who Treat Opioid Addiction Often See Very Few Patients
Sep 20, 2016 - A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the majority of doctors who are qualified to provide medication-assisted treatment for opioid abuse provide this treatment to fewer than 30 patients a month. Rural areas typically have less access to medication, fewer qualified doctors, and less access to counseling services, which are supposed to be offered with the medication.
Source: NPR
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Hospital Readmissions are Not the Enemy
Sep 19, 2016 - Interview with Daniel J. Brotman, MD, a researcher at John Hopkins Hospital who, among others, questions the belief that patient readmissions are a symptom of low-quality care.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Announces Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week
Sep 19, 2016 - The Obama Administration has proclaimed this week Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week and is calling for $1.1 billion from Congress to address the opioid epidemic. In addition to expanding several measures to help combat this issue, the Obama administration is sending Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other administration officials around the country this week as part of the effort to raise awareness.
Source: The White House
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USDA Funds 18 Distance Learning and Telemedicine Projects in 16 States
Sep 19, 2016 - The United States Department of Agriculture has announced funding for 18 projects in 16 states for telecommunications technology to improve access to healthcare and educational opportunities for rural residents.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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Helping Rural America Catch Up
Sep 19, 2016 - Collection of opinion pieces, by rural experts, placed in "discussion" with one another concerning the challenges faced by rural America. Topics include, among other things, access to health resources, poverty, economic development, and technological infrastructure.
Source: The New York Times
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Fight Against Opioid, Heroin Epidemic Needs More Funding, Says Diana DeGette
Sep 16, 2016 - U.S. Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) is calling for Congress to fund the efforts to curb the opioid epidemic, arguing that more than policy is needed to address this issue. DeGette's home state ranks second worst in the nation in prescription drug abuse, but DeGette emphasized that this is a national problem, and that rural areas with fewer treatment resources are particularly affected.
Source: The Denver Post
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HHS Awards $87 Million for Health Centers' IT Enhancements
Sep 16, 2016 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced funding totally over $87 million to support health information technology enhancements that will assist 1,310 health centers across the country transition to value-based models of care.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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New Diabetes Prevention and Healthy Heart Toolkits Available
Sep 15, 2016 - Indian Health Service's Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention (DDTP) released two toolkits to help Native American and Alaska Native communities implement local programs. The Special Diabetes Program for Indians Toolkit is based on research from the National Institutes of Health's Diabetes Prevention Program and the toolkit modules include suggestions on creating culturally inclusive programs. The Healthy Heart Toolkit is based on the experiences and successes from programs that have worked in Native communities to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Source: Indian Health Service
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USDA Seeks Retailer Volunteers for SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot
Sep 15, 2016 - The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announces that they are seeking retailer volunteers to participate in their pilot program which will allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to order food items online. Up to five retailers in three states will be selected for the pilot, which will be implemented next summer. This is anticipated to improve access to healthy food for SNAP participants in areas without grocery stores, including rural and tribal areas, as well as for those who are unable to get to a grocery store due to disability or lack of transportation.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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No Small Feat: Rural Practices Brace for MACRA
Sep 14, 2016 - Explores the difficulties faced by small and rural providers with the upcoming implementation of MACRA, especially as the final rule will not be released until November, giving providers only a two month turn-around. Focuses on specific practice in Maine to illustrate these challenges.
Source: Healthcare Finance
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Number Of Uninsured Falls Again In 2015
Sep 14, 2016 - According to the Census Bureau's annual report on health insurance coverage, the uninsured rate has dropped from 10.4% in 2014 to 9.1% in 2015, with 29 million Americans without insurance compared to 2014's 33 million. Insurance gains are evident across all ages, income levels, and types of employment.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Could Diversion Programs Tested in Urban Areas Work for Rural, Too?
Sep 14, 2016 - Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs are designed to divert low-level drug offenders away from jail and prosecution and into community-based services, like treatment and housing. LEAD programs are operating in several major cities in the U.S., but a small town in North Carolina is attempting to create a rural LEAD program. Includes chart on prescription opioid and heroin deaths in North Carolina from 2008-2014.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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New Data: 49 States plus DC Reduce Avoidable Hospital Readmissions
Sep 13, 2016 - Recent data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Medicare 30-Day, All-Condition Hospital Readmissions reveals that nationally, readmission rates fell by 8%. 49 states and Washington DC have seen rates fall, with 43 states experiencing a drop of more than 5% and 11 states seeing a drop of more than 10%.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Blog
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Big Cities are Starting to Recover from the Great Recession, but Rural Areas are Still Having a Hard Time
Sep 13, 2016 - The U.S. Census revealed that despite overall median household incomes seeing significant increases, and the poverty rate seeing the largest annual percentage point decrease since 1999, non-metropolitan areas have not been privy to much of this success. Non-metropolitan areas did not see significant statistical change in either category, and continue to have the lower median household incomes than their urban or suburban counterparts.
Source: Business Insider
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A Good Dentist Is Hard To Find In Rural America
Sep 12, 2016 - Exploration of the lack of access to dental healthcare in the U.S. due to both geographic and financial causes. The issue of access is notably worse in rural areas, where there are fewer dentists, dentists are less likely to accept Medicaid, residents tend to be poorer, and are less likely to have dental health insurance or fluoridated water. Focuses on dental clinics in Wisconsin which have been opened to serve the rural poor and the success they have had in securing financing to maintain their services.
Source: NPR
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UI Uses Outreach Program for Rural Health
Sep 11, 2016 - Focuses on a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics outreach program which sends traveling physicians and nurses to rural areas in the state. They provide specialization in rural hospitals, alleviating some of the issues with access for rural residents and helping to maintain a steady patient stream for rural hospitals which might otherwise suffer from low patient volume.
Source: The Daily Iowan
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Insurance Gives Native Americans More Health Care Choices
Sep 10, 2016 - Addresses issues of access faced by Native Americans using Indian Health Service clinics, which often operate at Level One, meaning they receive only enough federal funding to pay for treatments that are matters of life or limb. Experts hope that the Affordable Care Act will help provide access to greater levels of care for Native Americans, although there are a number of other obstacles to overcome.
Source: Fairfield Citizen
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How Does Your State Measure Up in State Quality Rankings?
Sep 8, 2016 - The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has updated their interactive tool which provides state-specific data on healthcare access and quality from AHRQ's 2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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CMS Offers Flexibility on MACRA, Give Doctors Ways to Avoid Payment Adjustments
Sep 8, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is offering clinicians four ways to comply with the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), set to begin January 1, 2017.
Source: Healthcare Finance
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Next Steps for the State Innovation Models Initiative Request for Information
Sep 8, 2016 - CMS is seeking input on the design and future direction of the State Innovation Models (SIM) Initiative. Comments must be submitted electronically by October 28, 2016.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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EHR Adoption, Population Health a Struggle for Rural Providers
Sep 8, 2016 - Most small, rural, and Critical Access Hospitals are not as far along in adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) as larger facilities. The American Medical Association has pointed out that the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) has unintended consequences for rural and small practices, including administrative and reporting burden and new penalties.
Source: HealthIT Analytics
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Telemedicine's Future on Display Now at UnityPoint Health
Sep 7, 2016 - Des Moines-based patient monitoring program UnityPoint at Home may reduce readmissions and emergency department visits, and improve health for chronically ill people. Most of the patients participating in the program are age 65-100 and have ailments including heart failure, hypertension, stroke, and lung problems.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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Lack of Medicaid Expansion Hurts Rural Hospitals More Than Urban Facilities
Sep 7, 2016 - Researchers from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill have published a study showing that rural hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid saw a greater increase in Medicaid revenue than urban hospitals.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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IHS Announces Funding Available for National Native Health Research Training Initiative
Sep 6, 2016 - The Indian Health Service announced funding of approximately $225,000 per year for up to five years for a cooperative agreement which will promote American Indian and Alaska Native tribal health research through education and training opportunities.
Source: Indian Health Service
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USDA Awards Grants to Preserve Affordable Rural Housing
Sep 6, 2016 - The USDA is awarding $3.9 million in Housing Preservation Grants to organizations in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and every state except Montana and Washington. The money will be used to renovate rural housing units, and can be used to remove health and safety hazards and to make the homes more energy efficient.
Source: United States Dept. of Agriculture
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First School-based Telehealth Clinic Opens in Indiana
Sep 6, 2016 - The first school-based telehealth clinic in Indiana has opened, providing high-quality healthcare to students in the Elwood Community School Corporation.
Source: Fox 59
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This Small Indiana County Sends More People to Prison than San Francisco and Durham, N.C., Combined. Why?
Sep 2, 2016 - Focuses on Dearborn County, Indiana, which sends more people to prison per capita than nearly any other county in the United States, to address nation-wide trends in which prison admissions have decreased in urban areas but have risen in rural and suburban areas. Dearborn County's high incarceration rate and severe sentences appear to be the result of a hard-line approach to sentencing as well as the growing opioid epidemic, as crime rates have been declining.
Source: The New York Times
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Obamacare Rate Hikes Rattle Consumers, Could Threaten Enrollment
Sep 1, 2016 - Rate increases on the Affordable Care Act Exchanges are being attributed to reduced insurance company participation, decreased competition, and a shortage of healthy people in the pool of consumers enrolled in plans available in the Marketplace. States who are facing what will likely be among the biggest rate hikes this year, including Tennessee, Arizona, and North Carolina, were also subject to some of the biggest increases last year. Meanwhile, in rural areas, many people are choosing to remain uninsured due to the challenges they face in finding in-network specialists within a reasonable distance and due to an inability to pay the high deductibles when they do see a provider.
Source: USA Today
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Rural America Finally Gets Mental Health Help
Sep 1, 2016 - Details the evolution of mental healthcare in the U.S. and the concerns related to a lack of access, which are particularly pronounced in rural areas. Through various legislation going back to the 1960s, mental healthcare and Americans' ability to access it has improved, but still faces significant challenges. Programs in South Dakota, Iowa, Montana, and the Midwest region are touched on.
Source: Governing
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USDA Announces Initiative to Provide Transitional Housing for Rural Americans in Recovery from Substance Use Disorders
Aug 31, 2016 - The USDA Rural Development's Rural Housing Service is launching a pilot program which will help provide housing for people recovering from substance abuse addiction. The program will allow its Community Facilities program to expand its financing services to nonprofits for the construction, expansion, or improvement of existing transitional housing facilities as well as for the purchase of vacant USDA properties in order to provide transitional housing services. Participating organizations would only be required to pay for taxes, insurance, and needed repairs for the first two years. The pilot program also includes incentives for USDA multi-family rental housing property owners to rent to people in recovery. This pilot program is available in New Hampshire, Vermont, Nevada, and Missouri.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Public Health Accreditation Board Awards Five-Year Accreditation to 16 Public Health Departments
Aug 31, 2016 - The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) provided 5-year accreditations to 16 public health departments. With this decision, the Cherokee Nation became the first tribal health department in the country to achieve accreditation.
Source: Public Health Accreditation Board
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HHS Awards $53 Million to Help Address Opioid Epidemic
Aug 31, 2016 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is providing $53 million in grants to address the national opioid crisis with a focus on reducing opioid-related deaths, and improving prevention programs and access to treatment. The funding will support the following six programs: The Medication-Assisted Treatment Prescription Drug Opioid Addiction Grants, the Prescription Drug Opioid Overdoes Prevention Grants, the Strategic Prevention Framework Partnerships for Prescription Drug Grants, the Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States program, the Prescription Drug Overdose: Data-Driven Prevention Initiative (DDPI), and the Enhanced State Surveillance of Opioid-Involved Morbidity and Mortality program.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Providers Ramp up Use of Telemedicine to Boost Access to Care
Aug 30, 2016 - Describes the changing role of telemedicine in providing access to care for underserved populations and continued challenges with reimbursement for telehealth services.
Source: Health Data Management
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Doctors Usually Think Bigger Hospitals Offer Better Surgery. Turns out, We’re Wrong.
Aug 30, 2016 - Narrative from Andrew M. Ibrahim, a surgeon and researcher, on why the quality of common surgical procedures at small and rural hospitals outpaces that of larger academic healthcare facilities.
Source: Vox Media
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Rural Residents Less Likely to Get Colonoscopies
Aug 30, 2016 - Reports on the results of a recent South Carolina Rural Health Research Center study that found rural residents of North and South Carolina are 17% less likely to get a colonoscopy than their urban counterparts. The difference is caused, in part, by a lack of specialists in rural areas that are trained to do the procedure.
Source: Daily Yonder
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Reflections Of A Med Student: How Practicing Medicine In Rural Kansas Taught Me To Be A Better Doctor
Aug 30, 2016 - Four-part series written by a University of Kansas School of Medicine fourth-year medical student reflecting on her experience doing a clinical rotation in rural Kansas. Highlights the advantages and challenges of practicing medicine in a rural environment.
Source: KCUR 89.3
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IHS Awards Tribal Management Grants to Support Tribal Self-determination
Aug 29, 2016 - Announcement of the Indian Health Service's (IHS) Tribal Management Grant Program awards for 2016. The grants support tribes in preparing to assume responsibility for all or part of existing IHS programs and activities.
Source: Indian Health Service
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AMA Unveils Enhanced Interactive Tool Aimed at Helping Health Care Providers Identify Underserved Patient Care Areas
Aug 29, 2016 - The American Medical Association has released an enhanced version of its Health Workforce Mapper that now shows population health data by geographic location along with health workforce data for every state.
Source: American Medical Association
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United States Surgeon General Appeals to America’s Clinicians to “Turn the Tide” on the Prescription Drug Epidemic
Aug 25, 2016 - U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy is making efforts to reverse the trends of the nation's prescription opioid epidemic. In a letter to health professionals, Murthy expressed understanding of the challenge in balancing a patient's pain with the increasing risk of addiction, but explained that health professionals were uniquely positioned to have a positive impact. He urged them to visit the Turn the Tide Rx website and included in the letter a pocket guide detailing the CDC's guidelines for opioid prescriptions.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Physicians and Health Care Providers Continue to Improve Quality of Care, Lower Costs
Aug 25, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the performance results for the Medicare Shared Savings Program and the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Model for 2015. Results reveal that physicians, hospitals, and healthcare providers participating in Accountable Care Organizations continue to make significant improvements in the quality of care provided to beneficiaries while still reducing costs. They also found that the more experience an ACO has, the better they will perform.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Q&A: What Has Health Reform Meant for Rural America?
Aug 25, 2016 - University of Washington professors Eric Larson and Davis Patterson, the director and deputy director of the WWAMI Rural Health Research Center, answer questions on recent rural health issues. Topics discussed include hospital finance and closures, workforce shortages, opioid addiction, the practical concerns related to the Affordable Care Act, community paramedicine, telemedicine, and dental health.
Source: Center for Health Journalism
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NIH Establishes New Research Program to Address Health Disparities of Chronic Diseases
Aug 24, 2016 - In an effort to provide better approaches to addressing chronic diseases among racial and ethnic minority groups, under-served rural populations, people of less privileged socio-economic status, and groups subject to discrimination who have poorer health outcomes often attributed to being socially disadvantaged, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), a part of the National Institutes of Health, is launching the Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers (TCC) for Health Disparities Research on Chronic Disease Prevention program. The centers will focus their research on the development, implementation, and dissemination of community-based interventions to combat chronic diseases which disproportionately affect health disparity populations.
Source: National Institutes of Health
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MU Graduate Student Program Improves Health Care in Rural Missouri
Aug 24, 2016 - The Health Resources and Services Administration issued a $700,000 grant for a program through the University of Missouri's graduate psychology program that will provide better access to mental healthcare in rural areas. Students are paired with rural clinicians to provide integrated healthcare to patients in these areas and rotate through partnered locations to gain a broad range of experience.
Source: The Maneater (University of Missouri)
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Healing in Hawaii – The Role of Culture in Addiction Recovery
Aug 23, 2016 - Details the Ho'omau Ke Ola Native Hawaiian substance abuse treatment program, funded in part by SAMHSA's Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant, which merges western treatment practices with a cultural curriculum that emphasizes community and support systems. Native Hawaiians experience higher rates of substance use and mental health disorders, among other ailments, than any other ethnic group on the islands.
Source: SAMHSA News
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Top 5 Reasons Rural Hospitals Shutter OB Units
Aug 22, 2016 - Researchers at the University of Minnesota released a new study revealing that of the rural hospitals they surveyed between 2010 and 2014, 7.2% had ended their obstetrics (OB) services. Those who had were smaller, more likely to be privately owned, located in low-income areas, and more likely to be Critical Access Hospitals. Located in 9 states across the U.S., the hospitals surveyed reported that staffing, low volume, and low reimbursement rates were the top three reasons impacting the decision to close. These closures mean that women in these areas are required to travel up to 40 miles to receive obstetrics services.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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CMS: Medicare Program; Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals and the Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System and Policy Changes and Fiscal Year 2017 Rates; Quality Reporting Requirements for Specific Providers; Graduate Medical Education; Hospital Notification Procedures Applicable to Beneficiaries Receiving Observation Services; Technical Changes Relating to Costs to Organizations and Medicare Cost Reports; Finalization of Interim Final Rules With Comment Period on LTCH PPS Payments for Severe Wounds, Modifications of Limitations on Redesignation by the Medicare Geographic Classification Review Board, and Extensions of Payments to MDHs and Low-Volume Hospitals Federal Register
Aug 22, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced several changes to payment and reimbursement plans, including changes to the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems (IPPS) for Acute Care Hospitals, the Prospective Payment System (PPS), policy, and FY 2017 rates for Long-Term Care Hospitals, and the direct graduate medical education (GME) and indirect medical education payments. Also included are changes to the quality reporting requirements for certain providers and to the limitations on redesignation by the Medicare Geographic Classification Review Board.
Source: Federal Register
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Life Lessons from a Small-town Undertaker as White Women Die Younger in America
Aug 20, 2016 - Follows an undertaker through the death of two white women, aged 44 and 59, in rural Kentucky. In McCreary County, Kentucky, there has been a 75% increase over the last 15 years in the mortality rate for white women aged 35 to 59. To compare, national death rates for white women of similar ages have increased only 23%, for white men they have increased 16%, and have decreased for both black and Hispanic men and women.

This is the fifth installment of a multi-part series: part one, part two, part three, and part four.
Source: The Washington Post
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National Report Reveals Dire Extent of Rural OB-GYN Service Shortage
Aug 20, 2016 - In a report released last week, the Pew Charitable Trust revealed that nearly half the counties in the U.S. don't have a certified nurse-midwife or OB-GYN providing care. In New Mexico, 9 counties have no OB-GYN services, and 7 don't have a certified nurse-midwife or OB-GYN, resulting in some women having to drive up to 100 miles to get care. The report disclosed that a shortage of obstetricians nation wide is leading rural hospitals and clinics to compete for a limited number of providers. Article includes ideas for addressing the issue that are supported by The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican
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Changes to Health Care Industry Have Rural Hospitals on Edge
Aug 20, 2016 - Rural hospitals are struggling to adapt to major upheavals in healthcare service delivery, including increasing regulations and decreasing reimbursements. As a result, 76 rural hospitals have closed since 2010. This multifaceted problem is attributable to both old challenges and new, which makes it especially difficult to address and solve.
Source: Deseret News
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Reminder: Critical Access Hospitals in Counties that Changed to Urban in 2014 Must Reclassify as Rural by September 30, 2016
Aug 19, 2016 - In 2014, CMS made changes to the Inpatient Prospective Payment System which, among other changes, resulted in several Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) being located in newly-designated urban counties. CMS provided a two-year window for these facilities to maintain their CAH status in order to apply for urban to rural reclassification. The deadline for reclassification is September 30, 2016.
Source: Lexology
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HHS Awards More than $100 Million to Improve Health Center Quality
Aug 18, 2016 - Health centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the 5 U.S. territories and the 3 Freely Associated States will be receiving more than $100 million in total from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand current quality improvement systems and infrastructure and to improve primary care service delivery. Includes link to a list of the 1,304 Quality Improvement Awards recipients.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Where Insurers' Exits Are Hurting Obamacare Exchanges — And Where They Aren't
Aug 18, 2016 - Addresses concerns around the U.S. about the Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplaces in the wake of news that several larger insurance companies will be reducing their coverage areas. Health insurance analysts say that three insurers are needed in a given location for healthy competition to exist.
Source: NPR
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Rural Hospitals in Critical Condition
Aug 18, 2016 - Explores the shortage of healthcare professionals in rural communities, both in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S., and the expectation that this shortage will increase over time as need grows and new health professionals continue to be drawn to urban locations. Also discusses efforts that have been made at the federal level to address the concerns facing rural facilities and the successes of telehealth in meeting rural health needs. This story is the second part of a two-part series; the first part was published on August 11, 2016.
Source: Agri-View
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Webinar: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - Current State, Data, Tools, and Resources
Aug 16, 2016 - The Health Resources and Services Administration is hosting a webinar on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in the United States on August 24, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. EST. The webinar will focus on the current state of COPD, the most recent data, tools and resources for providers as well as patients, and on how one rural physician is increasing access to care for COPD patients in his community.
Source: Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
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MOON Draft Available for Comment / MOON Implementation Information
Aug 16, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking comment by September 1, 2016 on revisions to the Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice (MOON) and instructions, the standard written notice that hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals are required to provide to Medicare beneficiaries after observation services are initiated.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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New Efforts Implemented to Combat Opioid Abuse
Aug 12, 2016 - Indian Health Services (IHS) has implemented a policy which will require doctors and other medical practitioners to check State Prescription Drug Monitoring Program databases before prescribing or dispensing opioids for pain treatment lasting longer than a week. Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs allow prescribing and dispensing medical practitioners to track opioid abusers and prevent them from going from doctor to doctor in an attempt to acquire more opioid pain medication. This is an especially important implementation for IHS because prescription opioid misuse is more than 2% higher among the American Indian population.
Source: Daily Lobo
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$16 Million in Funding to Improve Health Care in Rural America
Aug 11, 2016 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded more than $16 million to four grant programs: Telehealth Network Grant Program, Rural Health Research Centers, Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement, and Flex Rural Veterans Health Access Program. Administered by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP), the awards will improve access to quality health care in 60 rural communities across 32 states and support seven Rural Health Research Centers.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Kids Who Eat Government-funded School Meals at Increased Risk of Being Overweight
Aug 11, 2016 - Researchers found that children who had participated in government funded lunch programs through elementary and intermediate school years were most likely to be overweight, and students in the Northeast, South, and rural U.S. were more severely impacted.
Source: News Medical
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$10 Million in Grants Targets Community-based Efforts to Combat Chronic Diseases in the Delta Region
Aug 11, 2016 - The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy's Delta States Rural Development Network Grant Program is giving $10 million to organizations across 8 states in the Delta region to address diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, stroke, and behavioral health concerns. The program emphasizes collaborations between organizations in rural communities to tackle chronic health conditions which disproportionately affect people in this region.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Rural Hospitals in Critical Condition
Aug 11, 2016 - Explores the challenges facing rural hospitals, with 30% of the approximately 2,000 rural hospitals in the U.S. confronting the possibility of closure within the next two years. The role of the Affordable Care Act and the impact it has had on Critical Access Hospitals and their fee-for-service model is considered, but also cited as contributing factors are the struggle to retain physicians and low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. This story is the first part of a two-part series.
Source: Agri-View
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Indian Health Service Board Certifies 171 Health Aides in Alaska
Aug 10, 2016 - The Community Health Aid Program (CHAP) is designed to increase access to health workers in Alaska native communities, and many of the 489 current health aids and practitioners come from local communities in Alaska. The CHAP Certification Board, which is managed by the Alaska Area Native Health Service, one of the 12 regional offices of Indian Health Services (IHS), certified 171 behavioral health, dental health, and community health aids and practitioners recently. IHS is collaborating with tribal leaders to expand the program, which could lead to the creation of a national certification board for community health aids in the IHS system.
Source: Indian Health Service
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CMS Updates Nursing Home Five-Star Quality Ratings
Aug 10, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services updated the Nursing Home Compare Five-Star Quality Ratings in order to incorporate new measures. This program now encompasses information on successful discharges, emergency visits, and re-hospitalizations, meaning that the existing star ratings for nursing homes could change.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Prescription Drug-death Rate Grows Fastest in Rural
Aug 9, 2016 - Compares rates of prescription drug-death between rural and urban communities with a focus on opioid pain killers which, in 2014, accounted for approximately 75% of prescription drug-deaths in the U.S. Between 1999 and 2014, the drug-death rate from prescription drugs, which make up about half of all drug deaths nationwide, increased 3 times faster in rural communities than in urban areas. Also includes information on drug-death rates by county.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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When Patients Need House Calls, There May Be No Doctors Nearby
Aug 8, 2016 - Describes a recent study that found that there is a troubling shortage of home-based medical care in the U.S., a reality which is particularly concerning with baby boomers increasingly in need of home-based care. The study revealed that more than half of the country lives more than 30 miles away from full-time home-based care providers, although rural locations may be much farther, and that there are few physicians interested in providing this kind of care, at least in part because it is not high-paying, with CMS reimbursement rates varying widely depending on geographic location. (May require free subscription to view full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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UVa Researcher Examining Impact of Opioid Restrictions
Aug 8, 2016 - Virginia LeBaron, assistant professor as the University of Virginia's (UVa) School of Nursing, has received a grant from the UVa's Cancer Center to study the coincident problems of opioid abuse and chronic pain. LeBaron is interested in whether restrictions on opioid prescriptions prevent opioid abuse issues, as well as whether those same restrictions limit access to pain medication for patients who need it.
Source: The Daily Progress
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Risky Business for Rural Hospitals
Aug 8, 2016 - Explores some of the difficulties faced by hospitals and patients in rural areas of states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs, with a focus on Tennessee. Describes the efforts of one rural facility to cut costs in an attempt to avoid closure.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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A New Brand of Doctor Targets the Unhealthy in Rural Tennessee
Aug 6, 2016 - The Cumberland Center for Healthcare Innovation is a network of affiliated, independent physicians in rural Tennessee dedicated to improving overall health outcomes for the state by targeting rural areas, which are often in great need of care. This Accountable Care Organization has already begun to see greater patient investment and increased savings for CMS and private health insurers.
Source: The Tennessean
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The Joint Commission Releases Results of VA Health Care Surveys to VA
Aug 4, 2016 - The Joint Commission released to VA leadership the results of its Special Focused Surveys of VA healthcare facilities. These surveys measured the progress the VA has made to improve care, including timely access to care, the environment and coordination of care, organizational leadership, and infection prevention and control. Press release includes link to the full report, including findings and recommendations.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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Vexing Question on Patient Surveys: Did We Ease Your Pain?
Aug 4, 2016 - Explores various points of view concerning the usage of and response to pain management questions on patient surveys. Some argue that patient satisfaction scores reflect poorly on doctors who are conservative about prescribing opioids for pain management, and have had a negative impact on individual physician's salaries, while others assert that the two are unrelated, and that proper pain management is a reasonable expectation for patients to have.
Source: The New York Times
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Alaskans Battling Opioid Epidemic Get Audience with U.S. Surgeon General
Aug 4, 2016 - U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy attended an opioid summit in Alaska aimed at updating federal officials on the state's difficulties in dealing with heroin and prescription painkiller abuse. Alaska faces unique challenges in the face of this epidemic due to their abundance of rural areas, a shortage of treatment facilities, and their high rate of veterans per capita, a segment of the population which is often dealing with more pain-related health concerns than the general public.
Source: Alaska Dispatch News
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Medicare Announces Participants in Effort to Improve Access, Quality of Care in Rural Areas
Aug 4, 2016 - In an effort to increase access to care for Medicare beneficiaries in areas of the U.S. where the distance from healthcare providers can be prohibitive to receiving care, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have announced which Critical Access Hospitals will participate in the Frontier Community Health Integration Project (FCHIP) Demonstration. These 10 hospitals are located in Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota, and will begin the demonstration in August.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Students Seek to Protect Patients, Spotlight Rural Training Options
Aug 3, 2016 - The National Congress of Student Members of the AAFP, at the National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students, met and adopted, among others, resolutions pertinent to rural health education and training. One resolution called for the development of a database of resources related to rural training, and another called for steps to mitigate the risk of closure faced by many rural osteopathic family medicine residencies.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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Senate Worried USDA’s ‘Nutritious Food’ Push Actually Hurts People On Food Stamps
Aug 3, 2016 - Many U.S. Senators are concerned about a rule proposed by the USDA that they believe would compromise the ability of small retailers to participate in the food stamps program. The rule, which would require that retailers make 85 percent of their food revenue from fresh and uncooked items, could make it more difficult for SNAP recipients in rural areas and in food deserts to access healthy food items.
Source: The Daily Caller
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FCC Connect2Health Task Force Unveils Broadband Health Mapping Tool
Aug 3, 2016 - The interactive Mapping Broadband Health in America tool, launched by the Federal Communications Commission's Connect2Health Task Force, will allow for greater, easier access to data concerning the intersection of broadband and health. Users can generate customized maps displaying specific, user-selected criteria to track particular health focuses.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
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Drones Will Begin Delivering Blood and Medicine in the US
Aug 2, 2016 - Zipline, a drone delivery company which has been used to deliver medication and blood to remote parts of Rwanda, will launch a similar program in the U.S. The program will serve rural and remote communities in Maryland, Nevada, and Washington, and will include some Native American reservations. Hospitals will be able to place an order via text message and receive up to 3 pounds of blood or medication by parachute within 30 minutes.
Source: The Verge
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Clinicians: Hear the Latest from CDC Experts on Zika Virus Prevention
Aug 2, 2016 - A webinar will be held on Thursday August 4th to update clinicians on the recent changes to the CDC's recommendations on Zika Virus Prevention.
Source: Health Resources & Services Administration
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CMS Announces next Phase in Largest-ever Initiative to Improve Primary Care in America
Aug 2, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services opened the application period for practices to participate in the new nation-wide primary care model, Comprehensive Primary Care Plus. CPC+ is a five-year primary care medical home model beginning January 2017 that will enable primary care practices to care for their patients the way they think will deliver the best outcomes and to pay them for achieving results and improving care.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Opioid Dependence Leads To ‘Tsunami’ Of Medical Services, Study Finds
Aug 2, 2016 - A study conducted by Fair Health found that opioid addiction is widespread and has rapidly increased in the past 5 years. Fair Health warns that the increase in addiction will also lead to a massive increase in the utilization of other health services.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Striving for Equity in Access to and Use of Specialty Care
Aug 1, 2016 - The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation launched a grant-making initiative in 2015 with the goal of increasing equity in access to and usage of specialty care services in the U.S. This initiative, Specialty Care for Vulnerable Populations, has funded a number of organizations which seek to address health disparities and the associated preventable deaths among low-income, minority, and rural populations.
Source: Health Affairs Blog
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Urbanization Makes Life in Rural America Risky
Aug 1, 2016 - People in rural areas are more likely to suffer from health risks, including increased rates of suicide, injury, alcohol and drug use, and obesity. Possible reasons for this include less access to care and a higher stigma related to seeking mental healthcare.
Source: Inverse
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Gangs, Sex Trafficking and Meth Interconnected in Indian Country
Aug 1, 2016 - A study out of the Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma focused on methamphetamine abuse by ten Native American tribes in the western U.S. The study found that these communities are particularly vulnerable to members from outside drug cartels due to geographic location and a lack of resources, and that the widespread use of the drug had extremely detrimental effects on the tribal communities affected.
Source: Indian Country Today Media Network
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Rural Counties Across the US Becoming a Powder Keg for HIV Outbreak
Jul 31, 2016 - In response to growing concerns about the spread of HIV/AIDS in rural counties across the U.S. due to opioid abuse and increased injected drug use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have drafted a report identifying locations most vulnerable to outbreaks.
Source: The Guardian
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