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Rural Health
Top Stories

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

Analysis: New Funding and Technology Available for Opioid Treatment
Mar 22, 2019 - Highlights the special consideration funding areas, including opioid issues, for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant. Discusses VSee Clinic, a free telehealth software package that supports many of the telehealth services available through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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Value of Training Physicians at Health Centers Pegged at $1.8 Billion in Public Program Savings
Mar 21, 2019 - Research released today identifies how the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program could save $1.8 billion in Medicare and Medicaid spending, as residents trained in lower-spending areas average lower spending per patient once they begin practice. The THCGME program trains physicians and dentists at community health centers in rural and underserved areas, encouraging them to work in these areas and practice in primary care.
Source: GW Health Policy & Management Matters
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NRHA Announces Top Rural Community Hospitals
Mar 20, 2019 - The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) released its 2019 list of the top 20 rural prospective payment system (PPS) hospitals. Rural community hospitals were evaluated based on quality, financial stability, patient viewpoints, and other factors and will be recognized at the NRHA Rural Hospital Innovation Summit.
Source: Rural Health Voices
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Sens. Moran, Tester Introduce Landmark Veterans Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Legislation
Mar 19, 2019 - Senators Jerry Moran and Jon Tester have introduced legislation intended to improve access to mental healthcare for veterans and reduce veteran suicides. One of the 5 major components of the "Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act" focuses on rural mental healthcare access for veterans and includes a telehealth component.
Source: Office of Senator Jerry Moran
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A Conversation with Mark Zellmer
Mar 19, 2019 - Radio interview with Mark Zellmer, a physician assistant and the lead hospitalist at Gundersen Tri-County, a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) in Wisconsin. Discussion focuses on the work of this CAH, which will be using physician assistants to fully staff the hospital, including their PA fellowship program.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Quality of Life Assessment Among Substance Use Disorder Patients - Measure Testing Opportunity
Mar 19, 2019 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Mathematica Policy Research will be developing and testing an electronic clinical quality measure related to quality of life (QOL) for patients who have received any intervention for substance use disorder (SUD). To inform this effort, they are recruiting clinicians to interview about QOL assessments for SUD patients in daily practice.
Source: Mathematica Policy Research
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Study: One in Six U.S. Children Has a Mental Illness
Mar 18, 2019 - Details a new study which found that as many as 1 in 6 U.S. children, aged 6-17, has a treatable mental health disorder like depression, anxiety, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Nearly half of these children do not receive behavioral health treatment.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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Gaps in HIV Testing and Treatment Hinder Efforts to Stop New Infections
Mar 18, 2019 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a new Vital Signs report on the impact of undiagnosed and untreated HIV and the significant need to expand HIV testing and treatment in the U.S.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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USDA Announces Investments in Rural Community Facilities that will Benefit Nearly 300,000 Americans
Mar 18, 2019 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $91 million through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program to help rural recipients make infrastructure improvements and provide essential facilities. 16 projects in 12 states have been funded, impacting nearly 300,000 people.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Ending HIV In Mississippi Means Cutting Through Racism, Poverty And Homophobia
Mar 16, 2019 - Details barriers to eliminating HIV and AIDS in areas of the South where racism and homophobia as well as poverty and limited access can act as barriers. Focuses primarily on Mississippi and the experiences of residents there.
Source: NPR
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Medicare Payment Advisory Commission Releases Report to Congress on Medicare Payment Policy
Mar 15, 2019 - The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released it's March 2019 Report to the Congress: Medicare Payment Policy. It analyzes the payment adequacy in fee-for-service Medicare, reviews the status of Medicare Advantage (MA) and Medicare Part D, reports on incentives for prescribing opioid and non-opioid pain treatment under Medicare's hospital inpatient and outpatient payment systems, and includes a recommendation that Congress replace the four current hospital quality payment programs with a single streamlined program.
Source: Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
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MACPAC Calls on Congress to Phase In Medicaid Safety-Net Hospital Cuts, Shine Sunlight on Supplemental Payments
Mar 15, 2019 - The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) released its March 2019 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP. This report includes recommendations for Congress related to the implementation of pending cuts to disproportionate share hospital (DSH) allotments and the revision of the DSH funding formula to target states with the greatest share of low-income residents, among other things.
Source: Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission
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Rural Nursing Homes Face Closure as Occupancy Wanes
Mar 14, 2019 - Discusses the decreasing occupancy levels in skilled-nursing facilities, with a particular focus on facilities in rural areas. Rural facilities also struggle to find and keep staff due to decreasing rural populations. (May require subscription to view full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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Call for Nominations: Measure Applications Partnership Rural Health Workgroup
Mar 14, 2019 - The National Quality Forum (NQF) is seeking nominations for organizations and individual subject matter experts in rural health to serve on the Measure Applications Partnership (MAP) Rural Health Workgroup. Nominations will be accepted through April 12, 2019.
Source: National Quality Forum
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CMS Strengthens Monitoring and Evaluation Expectations for Medicaid 1115 Demonstrations
Mar 14, 2019 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released new tools and guidance for states on monitoring metrics and research methods related to section 1115 demonstrations. These tools and guidance are designed to help states discern if their demonstrations are achieving expected outcomes.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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How Fast Is Rural Internet? Consumers Are Asked to Fill in the Gaps
Mar 11, 2019 - Details a collaboration of three national rural nonprofits to document accurate broadband speeds around the country. These nonprofits have created an app that identifies broadband speed and service gaps. Anyone can use the app, and it tests your download and upload speeds wherever you are, adding that information to a larger database. They are encouraging rural residents from around the country to participate in the effort.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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Critical Condition: The Crisis of Rural Medical Care
Mar 10, 2019 - Provides an overview of rural hospital closures across the country, the causes of those closures, and their devastating impacts in their communities. Touches on a community that has lost its hospital, another that made a desperate effort to save theirs, and one community that is holding on, for now.
Source: CBS News
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‘Historical Trauma’: Native Communities Grapple with Missing and Murdered Women
Mar 8, 2019 - Discusses the high rates of murdered and missing indigenous women as well as issues like domestic violence. Touches on the lack of media attention or focus that has been devoted to this issue, the difficulty in prosecuting these crimes due to jurisdiction issues between federal and tribal courts, as well as more recent strides in garnering public attention and working towards solutions.
Source: Cronkite News
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Do Rural Populations Experience Greater Worry and Fatalism about Cancer?
Mar 7, 2019 - Details a recent survey which found that people living in rural areas were more likely to to feel like "everything causes cancer," that there isn't much you can do to lower your risk, and that there was conflicting information regarding cancer prevention. The concern is that the perception of cancer being inevitable or unavoidable might discourage cancer prevention and screening.
Source: Mayo Clinic
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Notice of Funding Opportunity for Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) Implementation Grants
Mar 7, 2019 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has released a Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) Implementation grants. Approximately 75 awards of up to $1 million each are available to networks and/or consortia to enhance substance use disorder service delivery in high-risk rural communities.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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Request For Abstracts - Rural Health
Mar 5, 2019 - Health Affairs is planning an upcoming issue on Rural Health to be published in December 2019. They are seeking abstracts related to the differences between rural and non-rural regions of the country, the diverse conditions that characterize rural communities, and the differential effects these conditions have. The issue will be aimed at drawing lessons from a growing rural health evidence base. Abstracts must be submitted by March 25, 2019.
Source: Health Affairs
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Pa. Taps Hospitals, Payers for Rural Global Budget Experiment
Mar 5, 2019 - Discusses the Pennsylvania Rural Health Model, a new global budget payment system. Rural hospitals receive a fixed monthly total that they can use however they think would best serve the health of their community. The initiative is starting with five participating hospitals in the state and is designed to help them move away from a fee-for-service mindset towards a focus on population health. (May require subscription to read full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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Among People Ineligible for Subsidies, Middle-Class Older Adults Face the Least Affordable ACA Premiums, Especially Those Living in Rural Areas Where Premiums Are Highest
Mar 5, 2019 - Details a new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation which found that Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace premiums are least affordable for older adults who earn too much to qualify for federal subsidies. This is especially true for those older adults who are living in rural areas, where premiums are highest.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
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Online Portal Seeks to Decrease Rural Health ‘Philanthropy Gap’
Mar 5, 2019 - Details the Rural Health Information Hub's new Philanthropy Toolkit, discussing its creation and the gap between rural and urban philanthropy. Touches on examples from within the toolkit of successful rural health philanthropy projects and partnerships.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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Number of Americans Dying Due to Alcohol, Drugs, and Suicide is at an All-Time High
Mar 5, 2019 - Details a new analysis from Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and Well Being Trust (WBT) which found that more than 150,000 Americans died from alcohol and drug-induced fatalities and suicide in 2017. This is more than twice as many as in 1999, and the highest this rate has ever been. Deaths caused by synthetic opioids rose 45% between 2016 and 2017 and suicide deaths are increasing at the fastest pace since data collection began in 1999.
Source: Trust for America's Health
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A Conversation with Charlotte Halverson
Mar 5, 2019 - Radio interview with Charlotte Halverson, the Clinical Director of AgriSafe. Discussion includes the history and the work of AgriSafe and focuses heavily on farmer suicide, the work they're doing to address the issue, as well as other resources and organizations doing work on this issue. Also touches on the AgriSafe Nurse Scholar Program.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Nursing Homes Are Closing Across Rural America, Scattering Residents
Mar 4, 2019 - Details the causes and the impacts of rural nursing homes closing. More than 440 rural nursing homes have closed or merged in the last decade, which results in nursing home residents relocating, often outside of the community where they have lived their lives and where they have spouses, church groups, and friends. (May require subscription to view full article.)
Source: The New York Times
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CMS Updates Consumer Resources for Comparing Hospital Quality
Feb 28, 2019 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has updated hospital performance data collected through CMS's Hospital Quality Initiative programs. This data update provides valuable information to consumers on the safety and quality of the nation's hospitals through the Hospital Compare website and the Star Ratings System. CMS also posted potential changes to the Hospital Star Ratings aimed at making hospital comparisons more precise and consistent.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Recognizing and Repairing Rural Health Disparities
Feb 27, 2019 - Blog post from the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) detailing the Rural Health Disparities Summit portion of their recent, annual Rural Health Policy Institute. Discusses rural health disparities and the National Institute of Health's All of Us Research Program.
Source: Rural Health Voices, NRHA Blog
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Opioids: A Surging Crisis in Rural America
Feb 27, 2019 - Provides an overview of opioids and the opioid epidemic, with a focus on its impact on rural areas, farmers and farm workers, the Latino community, and the overlap between these groups. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioid overdoses in this community have risen by at least 52.5% since 2016. 74% of farm workers have been directly impacted by opioid abuse.
Source: Salud America
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Reviving the Heart of a Rural Community
Feb 27, 2019 - Details a rural hospital closure that was averted in Alabama. The city created a healthcare authority to allow the city to purchase the hospital and partnered with investors and experienced hospital management to pay off the hospitals debts and create a plan to get the hospital back on track.
Source: Rural Health Voices, NRHA Blog
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CDC Data Confirm: Progress in HIV Prevention has Stalled
Feb 27, 2019 - Details a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the most recent data on HIV trends in America from 2010 to 2016. The report found that after five years of substantial declines, the number of new HIV infections began to level off in 2013. The report includes new infection rates by population, including considerations like age, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and people who inject drugs. Also touches on President Trump's initiative to end the HIV epidemic and its strategies.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Diabetes Risk in Southern Rural Areas
Feb 26, 2019 - Details a new study from the Texas A&M School of Public Health. The study found that over the past 20 years, diabetes rates have improved in most of the country, but remained mostly unchanged in the rural South. Diabetes is the seventh-highest cause of death in the nation. Diagnosis rates for diabetes can be as much as 17% higher in rural areas.
Source: Vital Record
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Report: Health Centers Will Need Support to Meet Goals of White House HIV/AIDS Initiative
Feb 26, 2019 - Details a new report which found that in order for Community Health Centers to meet the goals set for them by the Trump Administration in fighting HIV/AIDS, they will require secure, long-term funding. Health centers care for 16% of people with HIV and 22% of all people with HIV who are receiving HIV-related care, and thus have been giving a leading role in this effort to boost prevention, treatment, and management services. Expanding services, it found, will be most difficult for health centers in states that have not expanded Medicaid and with a high concentration of people living with HIV/AIDS.
Source: National Association of Community Health Centers
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A Conversation with Mike Shimmens
Feb 26, 2019 - Radio interview with Mike Shimmens, the Executive Director of 3RNet (National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network). Discussion includes the history and work of 3RNet and the importance of rural communities being able to recruit and retain physicians and other members of the health workforce, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement Program
Feb 26, 2019 - Announces a funding opportunity under the Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement Program (Rural Quality Program) to support planning and implementation of quality improvement efforts for rural primary care providers or providers of healthcare services serving rural residents, like Critical Access Hospitals or Rural Health Clinics. Applications accepted through April 22, 2019.
Source: Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
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The Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will be releasing a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for a new Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) Program
Feb 26, 2019 - Details an upcoming funding opportunity from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) to improve access to and continuity of maternal and obstetrics care in rural communities. The Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) Program will fund three awards to formal or established networks serving rural communities, and will be posted within the next few weeks.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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More Babies Are Being Born With Syphilis. Blame Meth and Opioids.
Feb 26, 2019 - Details the connection between drug use, the opioid epidemic, and the significant rise in syphilis and syphilis among newborns, or congenital syphilis. Some of the communities hit hardest by the opioid epidemic and a related methamphetamine spike are also the location of some of the steepest increases in syphilis. Congenital syphilis can cause deformities, severe anemia, an enlarged liver and spleen, jaundice or brain and nerve problems like blindness or deafness, and up to 40% may be stillborn or die as a newborn.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
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Ambulance Runs for Rural Patients Are 76% Longer When Their Hospital Closes, and for Seniors, It's 98% Longer, Study Finds
Feb 25, 2019 - Blog post from Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues detailing a recent study which looked at the impact of rural hospital closures on the time patients spend in ambulances en route to the hospital. It found that a rural hospital closure increases the time by approximately 11 minutes, which is a 76% increase. For seniors, the times increased by approximately 14 minutes, which is a 97.9% increase.
Source: The Rural Blog
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Opioid Overdose Deaths Quadruple, Centered in 8 States
Feb 22, 2019 - Details a recent study which found that opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled in the last twenty years. This study also found that the highest rates at present are in eight Eastern states: Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, and Ohio. Additionally, it found a 26% increase in opioid overdose deaths among African Americans between 2016 and 2017, which is the largest increase among any racial group.
Source: U.S. News and World Report
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Udall Fights to Improve VA Services for Native American Veterans
Feb 22, 2019 - Announced bipartisan legislation aimed at improving Veterans Affairs (VA) outreach, healthcare, and benefits for Native American veterans. This legislation will establish a VA Advisory Committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs to facilitate communication between the VA and tribal governments to address barriers faced by Native American veterans in accessing VA services.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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Opioid Prescribing Mapping Tool Improved with Medicaid and Rural Data
Feb 22, 2019 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an expanded version of their Opioid Prescribing Mapping Tool. This update ensures that the tool provides the most complete and current data, has added data related to opioid prescribing in the Medicaid program, and includes new features that offer an expanded view of prescribing rates over time and across regions.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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More States Say Doctors Must Offer Overdose Reversal Drug Along With Opioids
Feb 21, 2019 - Discusses new state laws and regulations in several states aiming to reduce opioid overdoses. Patients who are receiving a large dosage of an opioid, who take certain other drugs, who have sleep apnea, or who have a history of addiction are considered to have a higher risk of overdosing. For these patients, these states require physicians to either prescribe naloxone alongside the opioid or to at least offer it to the patient.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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AHA Releases Virtual Expedition to Help Clinicians and Organizations Address Social Determinants of Health
Feb 21, 2019 - Blog post from the American Hospital Association on resources and a virtual expedition designed to help front line staff and their leadership teams better address social determinants of health. Includes five modules that outline strategic approaches to incorporate into clinical practice.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Research Shows Nation's Opioid Epidemic Is Far From Over
Feb 20, 2019 - Details a recent study looking at the opioid crisis and using trends to predict the direction of the epidemic going forward. It found that existing efforts have resulted in only modest decreases in the overall number of opioid overdose deaths and projected that opioid overdose deaths would continue to increase in the next few years. Study authors concluded that a multipronged approach that includes monitoring and restricting prescriptions, reducing exposure to illicit opioids, improving access to treatment, and expanding the number of harm-reduction interventions is needed to have a significant impact on the epidemic.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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These States Have the Most Rural Hospitals at 'High Risk' of Closure: Report
Feb 20, 2019 - Details a new report which found that more than 1 in 5 rural hospitals in the U.S. are at high risk of closing. 64% of these high risk hospitals are considered essential to their communities, due to trauma status, geographic location, vulnerable populations, and economic impacts. Also includes which states have the highest numbers of high risk rural hospitals.
Source: FierceHealthcare
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Report: America’s Digital Divide Narrows Substantially
Feb 19, 2019 - Details a finding from the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) draft 2019 Broadband Deployment Report. Since last year's report, the number of Americans lacking access to a fixed broadband connection meeting the FCC's benchmark speed had dropped by over 25%. At the end of 2015, 26.1 million Americans lacked access, while at the end of 2017, 19.4 million lacked access. The majority of those gaining access live in rural America.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
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Telemedicine Program Aims to Help Providers in Rural Appalachia
Feb 18, 2019 - Details a telemedicine program through the University of Virginia (UVA) Health System. This program will use the Project ECHO model to provide training on lung disease to primary care providers in rural and remote areas of the region. There are high rates of lung disease, including Black Lung and lung cancer, in this region, but limited access to specialists.
Source: mHealthIntelligence
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USDA and HHS Partner to Create Recovery Housing in Rural Communities
Feb 15, 2019 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a partnership to create addiction recovery transitional housing in rural communities. Nonprofit organizations that provide housing, treatment, job training, and other key services will be able to purchase homes from the USDA at a discount and convert them to transitional housing for people in substance misuse treatment and recovery.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Improving Medicare's Payment Policies for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and Physician Assistants
Feb 15, 2019 - Details recommendations from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to update Medicare's payment policies to better reflect current clinical practice delivered by advanced practice nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (PAs). These recommendations are that APRNs and PAs be required to bill Medicare directly, and that Medicare's specialty designations for APRNs and PAs be refined.
Source: The MedPAC Blog
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HRSA's Substance Use Disorder Regional Virtual Job Fair
Feb 15, 2019 - Announcement of a Regional Virtual Job Fair from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Regions 7 and 8, on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Regions 7 and 8
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In Rural Mississippi, Still Waiting on Recovery
Feb 14, 2019 - Discusses the Chairman of the Federal Reserve's input at a conference on rural poverty at Mississippi Valley State University. Delves into the impact of the recession on rural communities, particularly in Mississippi, and the greater difficultly they have faced in trying to recover.
Source: Reuters
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USDA Prioritizes Investments in Telemedicine to Address Opioid Crisis in Rural America
Feb 14, 2019 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that projects that funding priority for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program will be given to applications that address opioid misuse in rural communities. Projects that provide opioid treatment services in 220 at-risk counties, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will receive up to 30 special consideration points. Up to ten points will be awarded to opioid-related projects that provide Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education as their primary purpose.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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HHS Launches Innovative Payment Model with New Treatment and Transport Options to More Appropriately and Effectively Meet Beneficiaries’ Emergency Needs
Feb 14, 2019 - Announcement from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation about a new payment model for emergency ambulance services, the Emergency Triage, Treat and Transport (ET3) model. ET3 aims to allow Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) beneficiaries to receive the most appropriate level of care at the right time and place. CMS anticipates a Summer 2019 release date of the request for applications (RFA) for Medicare-enrolled ambulance suppliers and providers.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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There’s a Rural-Urban Divide in the Opiate Crisis
Feb 14, 2019 - Details research on the opioid crisis that examines county-level drug mortality rates and explores what makes an area more vulnerable to the epidemic. Two factors that were consistent between rural and urban communities in predicting the rate of opioid deaths were economic distress and the accessibility of opioids. Economic distress was a stronger indicator in rural areas.
Source: CityLab
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Maintaining Maternity Care Vital to Rural Hospital Stability
Feb 13, 2019 - Details a breakout session from the National Rural Health Association's (NRHA) Rural Health Policy Institute on rural maternity care. Since 2011, 134 rural hospitals have closed obstetric services and 18 hospitals offering obstetric services have closed.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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U.S. Surgeon General Vows to Fight for Rural America
Feb 13, 2019 - Details U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, M.D.'s remarks at the National Rural Health Association's (NRHA) Rural Health Policy Institute. Touches on the opioid epidemic, HIV/AIDS, syringe exchange programs, Medicaid expansion, health disparities, social determinants of health, and the connection between health and economic prosperity and between health and national security.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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How Copley Hospital Is Decreasing the Number of ED Visits by Connecting Its Community to Care
Feb 13, 2019 - Details the efforts of a rural hospital in Vermont to decrease super-utilizer visits to the Emergency Department and address the high costs of care in their community. By working with case managers, community health teams, and a local Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), the hospital was able to create a shared plan to coordinate available services.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Secretary Perdue Statement on the American Broadband Initiative Milestones Report
Feb 13, 2019 - Discusses the American Broadband Initiative Milestones Report, a publication from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity which outlines how the federal government can increase broadband access and private-sector investment in broadband.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Filling the Rural Gap With Good Recruiting, Telemedicine
Feb 13, 2019 - Discusses the Rural Health Disparities Summit, hosted by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) during the NRHA's annual Rural Health Policy Institute. Focuses on rural health workforce shortages and the insights shared by AAFP President John Cullen, M.D., who works in rural Alaska, and Michael Kennedy, M.D. discussing his time in a rural practice in Kansas and his present work at the University of Kansas School of Medicine - Wichita. Also touches on the impact of telemedicine and the launch of the AAFP's Rural Health Explorer, which includes a rural population health mapper and a healthcare workforce mapper.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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USDA Seeks Applications for the Community Connect Grant Program
Feb 12, 2019 - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development announced that it is accepting applications for the Community Connect Grant Program, which helps rural communities expand access into areas where broadband is unlikely to be commercially available. Applications accepted through April 15, 2019.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development
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SAMHSA Treatment Guidance on Native Populations Highlights Cultural Considerations, Best Practices
Feb 12, 2019 - Details a new Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP), Behavioral Health Services for American Indians and Alaska Natives, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This TIP is designed to improve American Indians' and Alaska Natives' access to treatment for substance use disorders that is scientifically sounds and culturally informed.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration
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Many Rural Americans Have No Access to Buprenorphine
Feb 11, 2019 - Discusses rural residents' lack of access to buprenorphine compared to their urban counterparts. This is part of a larger problem of limited access to opioid treatment programs, especially in rural areas. But, there have been efforts to improve access by expanding the number of providers who can prescribe buprenorphine and the use of telemedicine.
Source: Filter Magazine
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CMS Advances Interoperability & Patient Access to Health Data through New Proposals
Feb 11, 2019 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announces a proposed rule that would improve the ability of patients to use and share their electronic health information. Additionally, CMS, along with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), has released two Requests for Information (RFIs) related to the interoperability and adoption of health information technology in post-acute care settings, and the role of patient matching in interoperability and improved patient care.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Call for Papers: Special Section on Community-Driven Solutions to Mitigate Adolescent Obesity and Its Co-Morbidities within Rural Appalachia
Feb 11, 2019 - The Journal of Rural Health is seeking article submissions focused on social factors impacting obesity in youth in rural Appalachian areas. A special focus on community-academic solutions from a social-ecological perspective will be included. Submissions are due by June 28, 2019.
Source: Journal of Rural Health
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Sewell, Smith Introduce Bills to Improve Rural Access to Healthcare
Feb 8, 2019 - Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Adrian Smith (R-NE) have introduced two bills aimed at improving access to healthcare in rural areas. The Critical Access Hospital Relief Act would repeal the Medicare 96-hour rule that requires facilities to either discharge or transfer a patient within four days of being admitted. The Physician Assistant Direct Payment Act would allow physician assistants to be receive payment for services directly from Medicare rather than through a third part, like a physician or hospital, as is currently required.
Source: Office of Congresswoman Terri Sewell
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New HRSA Loan Repayment Program to Support Substance Use Disorder Treatment in Underserved Communities
Feb 8, 2019 - Blog post from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator George Sigounas on agency efforts to address the opioid epidemic in underserved communities. Discusses HRSA's National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program (deadline February 21, 2019), as well as collaborations that help integrate behavioral and mental health into primary care, and rural-specific funding efforts related to fighting substance use disorder.
Source: Health Affairs
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ONDCP Announces Senior Adviser for Rural Affairs
Feb 7, 2019 - Press release from The White House announcing Anne Hazlett as the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) Senior Adviser for Rural Affairs. In this new role, Hazlett will help develop policy to improve the quality of life for rural populations and coordinate interagency activities around the prevention, treatment, and recovery for rural communities dealing with substance misuse issues.
Source: The White House
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The Chartis Center for Rural Health Announces the 2019 Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals and Top 100 Rural & Community Hospitals
Feb 6, 2019 - The Chartis Center for Rural Health announces the top 100 Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and top 100 rural and community hospitals for 2019, based on results of the Hospital Strength INDEX prepared by iVantage Health Analytics.
Source: The Chartis Group
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HRSA Supports Trump Administration's Plan to End the HIV Epidemic
Feb 6, 2019 - Press release from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announcing their support for the Trump Administration's initiative, Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America. Through HRSA's Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and the HRSA-funded Health Center Program, the agency will expand evidence-informed interventions, targeting areas with the greatest need, including seven states with a significant rural HIV burden.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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USDA Launches High-Speed Broadband e-Connectivity Resource Guide
Feb 6, 2019 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched an e-Connectivity Toolkit to help support the deployment of high-speed broadband e-Connectivity in rural communities. The toolkit features 27 USDA programs that support broadband deployment and allows customers to locate federal resources for planning, equipment, construction, research, and other e-Connectivity projects. It also highlights examples of how these resources are being used to increase broadband access in rural areas.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Remarks to the National Rural Health Association
Feb 5, 2019 - Prepared remarks from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at the February 2019 National Rural Health Association Policy Institute. Highlights challenges to providing healthcare in rural and tribal areas and steps the department is taking to address them.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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A Conversation with Nick Brady and Michael Maginn
Feb 5, 2019 - Radio interview with Nick Brady, an HIV Care Connect Associate and the Trauma-Free Illinois Coordinator, and Michael Maginn, the HIV Program Manager and Prevention Lead Agent, both from the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA). Discussion includes the work of the IPHA, especially as it relates to HIV/AIDS, trauma, and the relationship between the two. They touch on programs either built for rural communities or particularly important in rural areas.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Leadership, Transformation, Affordability and Value: Special Coverage from the 2019 AHA Rural Health Care Leadership Conference
Feb 4, 2019 - Overview of the American Hospital Association's (AHA) Rural Health Care Leadership Conference. Touches on keynote and strategy sessions and some of the major topics of the conference, including the importance of rural healthcare, cultivating partnerships between governance and leadership, and improving affordability and promoting value.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Trump Expected to Announce Plan to Stop Spread of H.I.V. in the U.S. by 2030
Feb 4, 2019 - Discusses the expectation that President Trump will announce a plan to stop the spread of HIV in the upcoming State of the Union. People living with HIV who take their medication every day as prescribed can keep their viral load undetectable, meaning they have effectively no risk of transmitting the disease. There are also medications that people who are at high risk of contracting the disease can take each day to prevent transmission. Touches on stigma and populations without access to care or preventive treatment. (May require subscription to read full article.)
Source: The New York Times
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Tackling the Opioid Crisis: What State Strategies Are Working?
Feb 4, 2019 - Officials from the National Academy for State Healthy Policy (NASHP) met with policymakers from several states to talk about challenges and promising strategies related to the opioid epidemic. NASHP identified strategies from the field that are showing results, including prescription tracking, medication-assisted treatment, harm reduction, ensuring access in rural areas, working with correctional facilities, and expanding Medicaid.
Source: National Academy for State Healthy Policy
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AHA Report Outlines Challenges Affecting Rural Communities, Opportunities to Ensure Access to High-Quality, Affordable Care
Feb 4, 2019 - Announces a new report from the American Hospital Association (AHA) detailing challenges that threaten rural hospitals and their economic viability. The report, Challenges Facing Rural Communities and the Roadmap to Ensure Local Access to High-Quality, Affordable Care, touches on low patient volume, geographic isolation, economic fluctuations, regulatory burdens, and the opioid epidemic.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Coming Soon: HRSA's Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) Will Be Releasing a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for a New Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) Initiative Called RCORP-Implementation (HRSA-19-082)
Feb 4, 2019 - Announcement of an upcoming funding opportunity from the Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP). Approximately 75 grants of up to $1 million over a three year period will be given to rural communities to enhance and expand substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder (OUD), service delivery in high-risk rural communities. This funding opportunity will be posted in the next few weeks.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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HRSA Awards $11 Million to Increase Access to Critical Services at School-based Health Centers
Feb 1, 2019 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $11 million in funding to 120 school-based health centers to increase access to behavioral health and childhood obesity-related services. Funds can be used to improve existing school-based health center facilities and to purchase equipment, including telehealth equipment.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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New Study: A Taste of Rural Medicine Proves Powerful
Jan 31, 2019 - Discusses a recent study which found that urban medical students who participated in an eight-week surgical clerkship in a rural area reported an increased level of rural community support and had positive opinions about living and working in a rural community. The clerkship was designed to be comfortable and productive for students and students were asked about rural living as well as rural patients and physicians.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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CMS Proposes Medicare Advantage and Part D Payment and Policy Updates to Maximize Competition and Coverage
Jan 30, 2019 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released proposed changes to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. These changes are intended to increase competition, increase plan choices and benefits, and help address the opioid epidemic.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Opioid Money Has Helped, But States Want More
Jan 30, 2019 - Discusses the impact of federal money to help states fight the opioid epidemic as well as concerns about what will happen when the one-time funding has been spent. Also compares states that have and have not expanded Medicaid and how greater numbers of residents without health insurance are likely to affect states as they attempt to tackle this crisis.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
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Black Lung Clinics Call For Action But Top Regulator Plans No New Measures
Jan 28, 2019 - Discusses a National Coalition of Black Lung and Respiratory Disease Clinics call for action to better protect coal miners from dust exposure. In response to a surge in cases of Black Lung Disease and in much younger miners than used to be typical, this coalition would like regulators to enact a standard to control the dust generated when mining equipment cuts into rock containing silica or quartz. Regulators argue that safety measures have already been improved and that the delay in the onset of the disease indicates that these new, concerning cases were likely caused before the new safety measures were put in place.
Source: Ohio Valley Resource
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Rural People with Disabilities Are Still Struggling to Recover from the Recession
Jan 28, 2019 - Details a recent analysis from the University of Montana's Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities which found that economic recovery in the wake of the great recession has been slower for people with disabilities, especially in rural areas. Includes information on employment rates for people with and without disabilities in metropolitan, micropolitan, and non-core counties and by geographic region.
Source: The Conversation
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Rural Areas Nationwide Are Losing Prenatal and Labor and Delivery Services, and Minnesota Is Part of That Trend
Jan 28, 2019 - Radio interview with Katy Kozhimannil, Director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and an associate professor at the university's School of Public Health, John S. Cullen, President of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a family physician in Valdez, Alaska, and Catharine Richert, an MPR News reporter who covers health stories. Discussion focuses on rural areas losing prenatal care as well as labor and delivery services across the country, with a particular focus on Minnesota.
Source: MPR News
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As Wisconsin Farmers Struggle, New Effort Aims to Prevent Suicide
Jan 27, 2019 - Describes the effects of financial distress and other stressors on farmers' mental health and efforts underway in Wisconsin to provide assistance and prevent suicides.
Source: Wisconsin State Journal
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Steep Climb In Benzodiazepine Prescribing By Primary Care Doctors
Jan 25, 2019 - Details a new study which found that the percentage of outpatient medical visits that led to a benzodiazepine prescription doubled from 2003 to 2015. This class of drugs is typically prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and seizures, but the largest rise during this time was for chronic pain. Some are concerned that benzodiazepines are being used as a replacement for opioids, despite being dangerous and addictive themselves, while others argue that primary care providers may be using them to ease patients off of opioids.
Source: NPR
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Call for Manuscripts: Access to Care During Disasters for America’s Underserved Communities
Jan 24, 2019 - The Journal of Primary Care & Community Health is seeking manuscript submissions for an upcoming Special Collection on Access to Care During Disasters for America's Underserved Communities. They are particularly looking for current research studies on the impact of major disasters on access to care for vulnerable populations and underserved communities. The submission deadline is February 15, 2019.
Source: National Association of County and City Health Officials
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NQF and the Aetna Foundation Launch Social Determinants of Health Initiative to Identify Quality and Payment Innovations
Jan 24, 2019 - Press release from the National Quality Forum (NQF) and the Aetna Foundation announcing a joint, nine-month effort to identify quality and payment innovations that will address social determinants of health (SDOH) and reduce health disparities. This initiative will identify practices addressing SDOH from around the country and bring together leaders to develop repeatable, scalable recommendations related to integrating quality and payment programs.
Source: National Quality Forum
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340B Hospitals Are Key Part of National Response to Opioid Epidemic
Jan 23, 2019 - Press release announcing a new report, 340B Hospitals on the Front Lines of Addressing the U.S. Opioid Epidemic, which profiles six hospitals that participate in the 340B drug pricing program and the work they've done to combat the opioid crisis. Features hospitals from around the country and of varying sizes, including two Critical Access Hospitals in rural Minnesota.
Source: 340B Health
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Can You Hear Me Now? In Quest for Federal Money, States Debunk Providers’ Coverage Claims
Jan 23, 2019 - Details efforts by states to prove that wireless carriers' coverage maps were inaccurate. This is important because these coverage maps are used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to determine how to distribute funding meant to increase internet access. If maps show that there is coverage where there is not, states may be ineligible for or receive less funding.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
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