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

CMS Launches Data Element Library Supporting Interoperability
Jun 21, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new database that supports the exchange of electronic health information. Using the Data Element Library, the public can view the specific types of data that CMS requires post-acute facilities to collect as part of the health assessment of their patients. It also includes health information technology standards that support the collection of health information, with the ultimate goal of making it easier to share electronic health information between providers.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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SAMHSA Accepting Applications for up to $50 Million to Help Tribes Address Opioid Crisis
Jun 21, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for up to $50 million to fund prevention, treatment, and recovery activities. These Tribal Opioid Response Grants will increase access to culturally-appropriate evidence-based treatment, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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CMS Seeks Public Input on Reducing the Regulatory Burdens of the Stark Law
Jun 20, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking recommendations from the public on how to address any undue impact and burden of the physician self-referral law, also known as the Stark Law, with a focus on how the law may impede care coordination. This is part of an ongoing effort by the administration to reduce regulatory burdens. Comments are due by August 24, 2018.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Reaching Rural Residents
Jun 19, 2018 - HIV.gov interview with Kristine Sande, Program Director of the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub), on barriers to and strategies for reaching rural Americans with information and resources related to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
Source: HIV.gov Blog
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A Conversation with Scott Daniels
Jun 19, 2018 - Radio interview with Scott Daniels, Ph.D., Performance Improvement Coordinator at the State of Hawaii Office of Primary Care and Rural Health. Discussion includes rural health in Hawaii, the difficulty of attracting providers to the state, especially to the most rural and remote areas, the emphasis on culturally-competent care, and a leadership development program being implemented among Critical Access Hospitals in the state, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Joint Statement of Action to Promote Elder Justice in Rural America by The United States Department of Justice And United States Department of Agriculture
Jun 15, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are forming a working group to focus on ways to empower and support rural and tribal communities to combat elder abuse and financial exploitation. Strategic action steps developed by this working group will be presented in November 2018 at the DOJ's Rural Elder Justice Summit.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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APPLY NOW! The Rural Communities Opioid Response Funding Opportunity!
Jun 15, 2018 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) released the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the new Rural Communities Opioid Response (Planning) (RCORP) initiative for FY 2018. HRSA plans to award approximately 75 grants through this funding opportunity, with successful awardees receiving up to $200,000 for one year to develop plans to implement opioid use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery interventions designed to reduce opioid overdoses among rural populations.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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SAMHSA Announces $930 Million Funding Opportunity to Combat the Opioid Crisis
Jun 15, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for $930 million in State Opioid Response Grants. These grants will be awarded to states and territories to support ongoing efforts to provide prevention, treatment, and recovery support services to individuals with opioid use disorder.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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HHS Makes $350 Million Available to Fight the Opioid Crisis in Community Health Centers Nationwide
Jun 15, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $350 million in new funding through the Expanding Access to Quality Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services funding opportunity. This funding will allow community health centers to invest in personnel and one-time infrastructure enhancements to address immediate barriers to implementing or expanding substance use disorder and mental health services. Applications are due July 16, 2018.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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MACPAC Makes Recommendations to Strengthen Medicaid Drug Rebate Program; Address Opioid Epidemic
Jun 15, 2018 - The Medicaid and CHIP Payment Access Commission (MACPAC) released its June 2018 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP, with recommendations to change statutory provisions that prevent state Medicaid programs from paying the lowest price for certain drugs and clarify regulations on protecting the privacy of patients with substance use disorder (SUD) to support integration of care.
Source: Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission
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CDC: More Obesity in U.S. Rural Counties than in Urban Counties
Jun 14, 2018 - Press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), which found that obesity prevalence was significantly higher among adults living in rural counties than among those living in metropolitan counties. Includes some discussion of the health risks of obesity, steps rural communities can employ to address this disparity, and the CDC's High Obesity Program (HOP).
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Chairman Pai’s Proposal To Increase Rural Health Care Funding Receives Majority Support at FCC
Jun 14, 2018 - Press release from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announcing that his proposal to increase funding for the Universal Service Fund's Rural Health Care Program has been approved by a majority of the FCC Commissioners.
Source: Federal Communications Commission, Office of the Chairman
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USDA Launches Interactive Map of Opioid Epidemic Resources
Jun 14, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new interactive map on their rural opioid misuse webpage. This map allows site users to learn about, access, or replicate actions rural leaders are taking in small towns across the country to address the opioid epidemic. The USDA is also inviting users to share effective actions taken in response to the opioid epidemic in rural communities with their "What's working in your town?" form.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Global Hospital Budgets in Maryland: When Economics and Altruism Align
Jun 14, 2018 - Blog post highlighting Maryland's all-payer global budgeting system. Includes some early evaluations as well as anecdotal comments from hospital CEOs and officials made during a panel discussion at a day-long policy academy organized by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-sponsored by the Milbank Memorial Fund.
Source: Milbank Memorial Fund Blog: The View From Here
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U.S. Department of Labor Issues New Rule to Update Payment Of Medical Benefits Under Black Lung Benefits Act
Jun 13, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) published a final rule under the Black Lung Benefits Act, which provides compensation and payment for medical services to miners who are totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease. The new regulations adopt industry-standard payment formulas, codify the black lung program's current payment practice for prescription drug payments, and its bill-processing procedures.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
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More Providers at Your Site May Soon Be Eligible for NHSC
Jun 12, 2018 - The Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) National Health Service Corps (NHSC) received $105 million for future NHSC Loan Repayment Program awards to expand and improve access to quality opioid and substance use disorder treatment in rural and underserved areas. The deadline to opt-in is Tuesday, July 17, 2018.
Source: National Health Service Corps, Health Resources and Services Administration
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CMS Opioids Roadmap
Jun 11, 2018 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the opioid crisis and the roadmap they are publishing to outline their efforts to address it. Among other things, it details their three-pronged approach to combating the opioid epidemic, focusing on prevention, treatment, and utilizing data from across the country to target prevention and treatment activities.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Blog
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SAMHSA Publishes Updated Toolkit to Help Prevent Opioid Overdoses
Jun 11, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) updated its Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit. This toolkit, designed to help healthcare providers, families, and other community members prevent opioid overdose deaths, addresses factors that can lead to an opioid overdose death and when and how to use naloxone.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Rethinking Rural Healthcare: How to Improve Healthcare in Rural Areas
Jun 11, 2018 - Modern Healthcare released an edition focused on rural healthcare, touching on topics like the opioid crisis, telehealth, the healthcare workforce, population health, the risk of rural hospital closures, and more, including highlighting efforts in specific states. (May require registration for full articles.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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CMS Leverages Medicaid Program to Combat the Opioid Crisis
Jun 11, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance to help states combat the opioid crisis, including information on promising practices, available resources, types of approaches, and the tools available to them. CMS has also released an Informational Bulletin with information on designing approaches to covering critical treatment services for Medicaid eligible infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and a Medicaid Technology letter to states on how to best use federal funding to enhance Medicaid technology to combat drug addiction and the opioid crisis.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Rural Funders Urge Philanthropies to Let Communities Lead the Way
Jun 8, 2018 - Details the focus of a panel discussion in a pre-conference session of the National Rural Assembly. The three panelists were Dr. Ned Calonge, president and CEO of The Colorado Trust, Anne Kubisch, president and CEO of the Ford Family Foundation in Oregon, and Elena Marks, president and CEO of the Episcopal Health Foundation in Houston, Texas. Includes their individual remarks as well as the overarching idea that building relationships within rural communities and allowing residents to set the pace and focus of the change were imperative for rural philanthropies.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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VA Commits $17 Million to Expand Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program
Jun 7, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is investing $17 million in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Assistance Programs in VA facilities nationwide. This program works on understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma in order to end violence, prevent further violence, and promote healthy relationships.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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Suicide Rates Rising Across the U.S.
Jun 7, 2018 - Press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighting the findings of their most recent Vital Signs report examining state-level trends in suicide rates from 1999-2016. Not only are suicide rates rising in almost every state, but more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of their death. Although increases varied between states, twenty five states had suicide rate increase of more than 30%.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Rural America Has Too Few Dentists — and Too Few Patients Who Can Pay
Jun 7, 2018 - Discusses oral health needs and disparities in rural America, focusing on a rural town in West Virginia. Although things like workforce shortages and preventive services either being reimbursed at low rates or not being covered at all by Medicaid or Medicare can contribute to the problem, this also touches on the economic realities of rural America and how difficult it can be to afford care even when it is accessible. (May require subscription to view full article.)
Source: The Washington Post
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Chairman Pai Proposes Significant Funding Increase For Rural Health Care Program
Jun 7, 2018 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced that he had circulated a draft order to his colleagues that would increase the Universal Service Fund's Rural Health Care Program's funding cap from $400 million to $571 million. This increase is what the original funding level cap would be today when adjusted for inflation. This increase would apply to the current funding year. It would also give providers long-term certainty by adjusting the cap annually for inflation and allowing unused funds from prior years to be carried forward.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
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HHS: Facilitation of Public-Private Dialogue to Increase Innovation and Investment in the Healthcare Sector Federal Register
Jun 7, 2018 - The Office of the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning a workgroup to facilitate constructive, high-level dialogue between HHS leadership and those focused on innovating and investing in the healthcare industry. HHS is seeking comments through Friday, July 6, 2018 on the structure of the workgroup and on opportunities for increased engagement and dialogue between HHS and those focused on innovating and investing in the healthcare industry.
Source: Federal Register
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New UDS Mapper Tool: Mapping Areas of Priority for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAP for MAT)
Jun 5, 2018 - The UDS Mapper has a new tool for health centers designed to assist in identifying areas of high need as well as existing services related to the opioid epidemic and opioid use disorder treatment. Includes information on webinars related to using the UDS Mapper tool.
Source: HealthLandscape
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HHS: 340B Drug Pricing Program Ceiling Price and Manufacturer Civil Monetary Penalties Regulation; Rule Federal Register
Jun 5, 2018 - Notice of a final rule from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to further delay the effective date of a January 5, 2017 final rule that set forth the calculation of the ceiling price and application of civil monetary penalties for the 340B Drug Pricing Program. The new effective date of the final rule will be July 1, 2019.
Source: Federal Register
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Senate Bill Seeks To Help Farmers Obtain Mental Health Services
Jun 4, 2018 - Details a bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate aiming to improve access to mental health services and financial help in an effort to reduce rural suicide, with a focus on farmers and ranchers. The bill would attempt to strengthen networks like hotlines and suicide prevention programs by channeling $10 million in competitive grants to nonprofits, state extension offices, or state departments of agriculture.
Source: KUNC
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CMS Unveils Scorecard to Deliver New Level of Transparency within Medicaid and CHIP Program
Jun 4, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the first Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Scorecard in an effort to increase CMS's transparency and accountability. It includes measures voluntarily reported by states as well as federally reported measures related to state health system performance, state administrative accountability, and federal administrative accountability.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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SAMHSA Is Announcing the Availability of up to $10.8 Million for the Providers Clinical Support System – Universities Program
Jun 4, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for grants totaling up to $10.8 million over three years to expand and enhance access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) services. SAMHSA expects to fund up to 24 grantees through the Providers Clinical Support System - Universities grant program to ensure that students in the medical, physician assistant, and nurse practitioner fields fulfill the training requirements to obtain a Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) waiver to prescribe buprenorphine in office-based settings.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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MAP Rural Health Workgroup Second Draft Report Comment through July 2
Jun 4, 2018 - Project Alert from the National Quality Forum (NQF) announcing that the second draft report is posted to the NQF's Measure Applications Partnership (MAP) Rural Health Workgroup webpage. Comments will be accepted through Monday, July 2, 2018.
Source: National Quality Forum
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National Funders Say They Hope Rural Groups Apply for $10 Million Challenge
Jun 1, 2018 - The Communities Thrive Challenge, a project of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, will award up to $1 million each to 10 organizations that are improving local economies and creating financial stability for families. The creators of this initiative designed the application process to help identify new kinds of grantees, including underfunded rural organizations.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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President Trump’s Executive Order Supporting Mental Health Care for Transitioning Service Members Now Underway
May 31, 2018 - In January 2018, President Trump signed an executive order directing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collaborate to provide improved access to mental healthcare and suicide resources to veterans with a focus on the first year following military service. The VA has announced that the White House has approved an interagency plan to implement this directive.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
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Report: Rural Poverty In America Is 'An Emergency'
May 31, 2018 - Highlights the results of a report, produced by the advocacy group Save the Children, ranking nations on factors that are considered "childhood enders" like displacement, child labor, child mortality, and gender bias. The U.S. ranks 36th, largely due to a high infant mortality rate, high rate of children who are victims of homicide, and high teen pregnancy rates. The report also detailed concerns about rural poverty in America, which it called an "emergency," and which affects nearly a quarter of rural children. The highest concentrations of child poverty were in the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia, and on Native American reservations.
Source: NPR
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Quality Payment Program Exceeds Year 1 Participation Goal
May 31, 2018 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma announcing that 91% of clinicians eligible for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) participated in the first year of the Quality Payment Program (QPP). CMS' goal had been 90% participation. The submission rates for Accountable Care Organizations and clinicians in rural practices were at 98% and 94%. Also touches on new CMS efforts to improve MIPS requirements.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Blog
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As Fatal Overdoses Rise, Many Americans See Drug Addiction as a Major Problem in Their Community
May 30, 2018 - Highlights the findings of a new Pew Research Center survey, which found that 9 out of 10 rural residents say that drug addiction is a problem in their community. Also provides an overview of the opioid epidemic and who it is impacting, comparing overdose mortality rates in urban, suburban, and rural areas, and between racial and ethnic groups.
Source: Fact Tank, Pew Research Center
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SAMHSA Announces $196 Million Funding Opportunity for Opioid Treatment Grants to Hardest-Hit States and Tribes
May 30, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for $196 million to expand access to medication-assisted treatment and recovery support services for people with opioid use disorder. This funding is through the Targeted Capacity Expansion: Medication Assisted Treatment - Prescription Drug Opioid Addiction grant program.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Senate Passes Udall, Tester, Hoeven, Isakson Bill to Combat Native American Veteran Homelessness
May 24, 2018 - Announces the Senate passage of the Tribal HUD-VASH Act, which authorizes a joint tribal veterans housing initiative between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program, which provides rental and housing assistance to veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. This initiative allows tribes and tribal housing authorities to access veterans housing funds for Native American veterans.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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SAMHSA Is Announcing the Availability of up to $230 Million for the Strategic Prevention Framework Partnerships for Success Grant Program
May 23, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for Strategic Prevention Framework - Partnerships for Success grants totaling up to $230 million over five years for substance abuse prevention that reaches populations most impacted. Although specifically focused on underage drinking among 9 to 20 year olds, recipients may also use funds to target up to two additional, data-driven substance abuse prevention priorities. SAMHSA expects to fund up to 34 grantees from up to $500,000 to $2.26 million per year for up to five years.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Senators Target Medicaid in Telehealth Bills Tackling Opioid Abuse
May 23, 2018 - Details four bills introduced in the U.S. Senate this week that aim to use telehealth to address the opioid epidemic and to reach more people on Medicaid and in rural areas. All of these bills have bi-partisan co-sponsors.
Source: mHealthIntelligence
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New Studies Confirm A Surge In Coal Miners' Disease
May 22, 2018 - Highlights a number of new studies about black lung disease. These studies found that more miners working in central Appalachia have earlier stages of the disease and more miners have suffered the advanced stages of the disease than previous government research has found. Other findings include sharp increases in the disease year after year, that lung function continues to get worse in miners with simple black lung even after they stop working, and a growing number of lung transplants for miners with severe symptoms.
Source: NPR
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A Conversation with Carrie Henning Smith
May 22, 2018 - Radio interview with Dr. Carrie Henning-Smith, the Deputy Director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Discussion includes an overview of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and its work, including research into barriers faced by rural residents in accessing nursing home care and related population health concerns, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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HRSA: Recruitment of Sites for Assignment of National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program Participants Federal Register
May 21, 2018 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announces that the listing of eligible entities that will receive priority for the assignment of National Health Service Corps (NHSC) scholarship recipients available for service October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019 is posted on the Health Workforce Connector website. Also includes Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) scores for eligible facilities and instructions on how to submit information in support of a higher priority determination, due by June 20, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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Illicit Opioids: Office of National Drug Control Policy and Other Agencies Need to Better Assess Strategic Efforts
May 17, 2018 - Overview of a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) which noted that only one of the five strategies to combat illicit opioids submitted to them by federal agencies included results-oriented measures and that without these kinds of outcome-based performance measures, federal agencies will not be able to accurately assess the efficacy of their efforts. It also found that although federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly coordinating with the public health sector to share overdose information, both sectors reported ongoing challenges to sharing data in an effective and accurate way.
Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office
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USDA Invests $243 Million in Rural Community Facility Improvements in 22 States
May 16, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $243 million in investments in community facility projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. These loans will fund 50 projects in 22 states working to improve quality of life in rural communities. Priority is given to projects addressing the opioid crisis.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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How One Rural California County Went from the State’s Highest Rate of Opioid Deaths — to Zero
May 14, 2018 - Highlights a rural county in California that used to have the highest rate of opioid-related deaths in the state, despite being the eighth least populous. A network of regional coalitions across the state worked together to tackle the problem. The Northern Sierra Opioid Safety Coalition, which includes this county, worked on promoting safer prescribing, increasing access to naloxone, and increasing treatment options for addiction, including medication-assisted treatment.
Source: Center for Health Journalism
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New Population Health Portal Updates, May 2018!
May 11, 2018 - The National Rural Health Resource Center, in cooperation with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, has updated its Population Health Portal with two new scenarios in the Data Tool for a hospital or county to analyze the data in the portal and extract the data for further analysis in Microsoft Excel.
Source: National Rural Health Resource Center
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VA Expands Telehealth by Allowing Health Care Providers to Treat Patients Across State Lines
May 11, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a new federal rule that will allow VA doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers to administer care to Veterans using telehealth regardless of where in the U.S. the provider of the veteran is located, including across state lines or outside of a VA facility. This new rule exercises federal preemption to override state restrictions in an effort to increase access to care.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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CMS: Medicare Program; Durable Medical Equipment Fee Schedule Adjustments To Resume the Transitional 50/50 Blended Rates To Provide Relief in Rural Areas and Non-Contiguous Areas Federal Register
May 11, 2018 - Notice of an interim final rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to increase fee schedule rates for certain durable medical equipment. Amends the regulation to resume a blended fee schedule rate for items furnished in rural areas and non-contiguous areas (Alaska, Hawaii, and United States territories) not subject to the Competitive Bidding Program from June 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Comments on the interim final rule are due by July 9, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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Hoeven, Udall Introduce Legislation to Support Native Farmers, Ranchers, and Communities
May 9, 2018 - Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Tom Udall (D-NM), chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced bipartisan legislation to support tribal self-governance, agricultural production in Indian Country, and enhanced agribusiness and rural development opportunities for Native American farmers, ranchers, and communities. Among other things, this would provide greater self-determination for food distribution activities under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and would expand resources, research opportunities, and grant eligibility for tribal colleges and universities.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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CMS Safeguards Patient Access to Certain Medical Equipment and Services In Rural and Other Non-contiguous Communities
May 9, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an interim final rule that would increase the fee schedule rates from June 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018 for certain durable medical equipment (DME) items and services and enteral nutrition furnished in rural and non-contiguous areas not subject to the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program (CBP). This rule includes a comment period open through July 9, 2018.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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The Amish Pool Resources for Their Medical Care. A Budget-busting Gene Therapy Puts Them in a Bind
May 8, 2018 - Details the efforts to get an expensive therapy for two siblings who are part of the Plain community, a group of old order Amish and Mennonite families who do not use Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance because they believe that caring for the sick and elderly is a community's responsibility. Touches on the barriers to accessing healthcare that people in this community face, as well as some of the reasons why this therapy is so expensive.
Source: STAT News
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CMS Announces Agency’s First Rural Health Strategy
May 8, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released their first Rural Health Strategy. This agency-wide strategy is intended to provide a proactive approach to healthcare issues to ensure access to high quality, affordable healthcare by applying a rural lens to CMS programs and policies, advancing telehealth, improving access through provider engagement and support, empowering rural patients to make decisions about their healthcare, and leveraging partnerships to achieve these goals. A fact sheet is also available.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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A Conversation with Tommy Barnhart
May 8, 2018 - Radio interview with Tommy Barnhart, President of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). Discussion includes the work of NRHA, rural health policy, and rural hospital closures, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Needle by Needle, a Heroin Crisis Grips California’s Rural North
May 8, 2018 - Details the growing rates opioid use and homelessness in northern California's rural areas, touching on barriers like stigma, limited access to treatment, and a lack of housing options or support, among other things.
Source: The New York Times
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CMS: Medicare Program: FY 2019 Hospice Wage Index and Payment Rate Update and Hospice Quality Reporting Requirements Federal Register
May 8, 2018 - Notice of a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to update the hospice wage index, payment rates, and cap amount for FY 2019, as well as make changes to the Hospital Quality Reporting Program. Additionally, the proposed rule would make conforming regulations text changes to recognize physician assistants as designated hospice attending physicians, effective January 1, 2019. Comments on the proposed rule are due by June 26, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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Telemedicine Takes Transgender Care Beyond The City
May 5, 2018 - Details the difficulties rural transgender people face related to accessing healthcare, including general healthcare as well as care related to their transition, and the difference that telemedicine can make in providing access to that care. Issues related to their rurality and to social stigma can be alleviated this way, but only if these patients also live in areas with broadband infrastructure.
Source: NPR
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VA Offers Early Participation in a Faster New Claims Decision Review Process
May 4, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it is expanding the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) by removing the requirement that veterans receive an invitation to participate. They are also launching the Early Applicability of Appeals Modernization (BEAAM) pilot project, which will identify 50 veterans who were dissatisfied with a recent benefits claim decision to participate in a study on veteran choices and experiences. This process will also allow these veterans to appeal the decision directly.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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SAMHSA Is Announcing the Availability of up to $37.5 Million for the Tribal Behavioral Health Grant Program
May 2, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the availability of up to $37.5 million to prevent and reduce suicidal behavior and substance use, reduce the impact of trauma, and promote mental health among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth. Through this Tribal Behavioral Health Grant Program, SAMHSA expects to fund up to 30 grantees with up to $250,000 per year for up to five years.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Request for Information: Administrative Streamlining and Burden Reduction
May 1, 2018 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from entities significantly impacted by HRSA regulations and policy on regulations that are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective, impose costs that exceed benefits, or are otherwise inconsistent with established regulatory policy and guidance. This is in an effort to reduce public and stakeholder burden in complying with administrative and reporting requirements. Comments will be accepted through July 2, 2018.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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Members Appointed to New Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force
May 1, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the appointment of 28 members to the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force, which was established to propose updates to best practices and issue recommendations that address gaps or inconsistencies for managing chronic and acute pain.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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In Rural Areas Hit Hard by Opioids, a New Source of Hope
Apr 30, 2018 - Discusses the difference access to care can make for people struggling with opioid use disorder, highlighting a program in rural Delaware. Also touches on barriers to care and the efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which helped fund the Delaware program, to address the opioid epidemic.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
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PCORI Board Approves $10 Million to Support Research on Medication-Assisted Treatment for Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorders
Apr 30, 2018 - The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Board of Governors approved funding for two new comparative clinical effectiveness research studies on Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for pregnant women with opioid use disorders. $5.3 million will go to a project at Dartmouth College that will compare the outcomes of women receiving prenatal care in practices that provide MAT with women who receive referrals to specialty care for MAT. $4.9 million will go to a University of Kentucky-based project comparing delivery models for comprehensive treatment for perinatal opioid use disorder to rural populations.
Source: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
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CMS Drives Patient-Centered Care over Paperwork in Proposals to Modernize Medicare and Reduce Burden
Apr 27, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed changes to the payment systems for services furnished by a range of medical facilities. The proposed rules for fiscal year 2019 would update Medicare policies and rates for the Skilled Nursing Facilities Prospective Payment System (SNF PPS), Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities Prospective Payment System (IRF PPS), Hospice Wage Index and Payment Rate Update, and Inpatient Psychiatric Facility Prospective Payment System (IPF PPS).
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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NHTSA: Request for Information: Improving Prehospital Trauma Care Federal Register
Apr 27, 2018 - On behalf of the Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is seeking comment and response to 24 specific questions from the public, governmental agencies, and professional and public interest groups on improving prehospital trauma care in all locations, including rural, suburban, urban, and wilderness areas. Comments are due by July 26, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS Administrator Verma Unveils New Strategy to Fuel Data-driven Patient Care, Transparency
Apr 26, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new Data Driven Patient Care Strategy as part of the MyHealthEData initiative. This strategy aims to support industry innovation related to using data to inform patients' healthcare decisions and transform the healthcare system through enhanced security and privacy, improved quality and efficiency, and reduced costs.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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CMS: Medicare Program; Extension of the Payment Adjustment for Low-Volume Hospitals and the Medicare-Dependent Hospital (MDH) Program Under the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems (IPPS) for Acute Care Hospitals for Fiscal Year 2018 Federal Register
Apr 26, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announces a one-year extension of certain temporary changes to the payment adjustment for low-volume hospitals and extends the Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program through FY 2022.
Source: Federal Register
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USDA Brings Local Agencies Together to Talk about Opioid Issue
Apr 25, 2018 - Details a meeting in Missouri with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett and local government agencies including the State Highway Patrol, the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Department of Mental Health and the state attorney general's office on the opioid epidemic and its impact in the state.
Source: Columbia Daily Tribune
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USDA Rural Development Innovation Center Launches Interactive Webpage to Share Best Practices for Rural Economic Development
Apr 25, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Innovation Center has unveiled a new webpage. This interactive resource highlights effective strategies to create jobs, build infrastructure, strengthen partnerships and promote economic development in rural communities. It also highlights USDA resources that can be used for investments in infrastructure and innovation and allows visitors to the page to submit comments on ways the USDA can improve Rural Development program delivery.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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