Rural Health
Top Stories

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

Local Executive Appointed to National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services
Jul 25, 2016 - Kate Rolf, president and chief executive officer of New York-based VNA Homecare, will serve a 4-year term on the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services. This is a group of 21 rural health experts who advise the Secretary of the Dept. of Health & Human Services on ways to address rural healthcare issues.
Source: Madison County Courier
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Kaiser Study: Rural Hospitals Close for Many Reasons
Jul 22, 2016 - A new report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured attributes rural hospital closings to a broad range of factors, including corporate decisions on profitability, lack of community expertise in dealing with large healthcare organizations, changes in federal reimbursement policies, and some states’ decision not to expand Medicaid.
Source: North Carolina Health News
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HHS Awards More Than $36 Million for Health Center Adoption of Health Information Technology
Jul 21, 2016 - The U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services will award $36 million in funding for 50 Health Center Controlled Networks in 41 states and Puerto Rico, to support health information technology.
Source: Dept. of Health & Human Services
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Sometimes Tiny Is Just The Right Size: ‘Microhospitals’ Filling Some ER Needs
Jul 19, 2016 - Some healthcare systems are opening tiny, full-service hospitals with comprehensive emergency services but often fewer than a dozen inpatient beds. Though most are currently located in urban and suburban areas, some people suggest that facilities of this type should be developed in rural or medically underserved areas where the need for services is great.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Telemedicine to Help Rural Docs Tackle Opioid Abuse
Jul 18, 2016 - The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is launching a three-year, $9 million effort to train rural healthcare providers in medication-assistant treatment therapy. The project will use mHealth apps, online training, and specialist consults to help primary care physicians treat an estimated 20,000 residents fighting opioid addiction. The effort targets Oklahoma, Colorado, and Pennsylvania.
Source: mHealth Intelligence
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HPOE Guide Applies Research Lens to Community Health Needs Assessment Process
Jul 15, 2016 - The American Hospital Association's Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence (HPOE) has released a guide to help nonprofit hospitals further the impact of community health needs assessments (CHNAs) by applying research techniques to the CHNA process.
Source: American Hospital Association News
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USDA's Rural Housing Service Announces Creation of New Community Facilities Re-Lending Program, "Uplift America"
Jul 15, 2016 - Opinion piece about the creation of a new Community Facilities relending program, brought about to enable the USDA to provide loans to qualified re-lenders serving persistent or high poverty counties. While the National Association of Counties supports the overall goal of the program, there are major concerns over a few provisions of the interim rule.
Source: National Association of Counties
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IHS Rosebud Hospital Emergency Department to Resume Full Operations
Jul 14, 2016 - The emergency department of the Indian Health Service hospital in Rosebud, South Dakota will resume operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, beginning July 15. The department had been on diversionary status since December 5, 2015.
Source: Indian Health Service
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Despite Discord Over Funding, Congress Sends Opioid Bill To President’s Desk
Jul 14, 2016 - Collection of articles about opioid-related legislation which has been approved by the Senate but not yet funded.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Schatz, Wicker Unveil New Rural Telehealth Proposal
Jul 14, 2016 - U.S. Senators Brian Schatz and Roger Wicker have introduced a bipartisan measure to expand access to rural telehealth services by allowing non-rural hospitals and healthcare providers that service rural areas to make better use of the FCC's Healthcare Connect Fund.
Source: Office of U.S. Senator Brian Schatz
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Rural Healthcare Grants Tackle Population Health Management
Jul 14, 2016 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently announced millions of dollars in grant funding to rural healthcare organizations and academic centers, in an effort to expand training and education for healthcare providers, jumpstart population health management programs, and support delivery of high quality patient care.
Source: HealthIT Analytics
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USDA Funds 81 Distance Learning and Telemedicine Projects in 32 States
Jul 14, 2016 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) will fund projects to help connect rural communities with medical and educational experts in other parts of the country, increasing access to healthcare, substance misuse treatment, and advanced educational opportunities.
Source: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
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Governors Sign Compact to Fight Opioid Addiction
Jul 13, 2016 - Forty-six governors signed a compact in which they agree to take steps to reduce inappropriate prescribing, help change the nation's understanding of opioids and addiction, and support recovery efforts for people suffering from addiction.
Source: National Governors Association
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Sen. Franken Continues Push to Improve Health Care for Millions of Rural Americans
Jul 13, 2016 - U.S. Senator Al Franken introduced a legislative package to address barriers rural Americans face in accessing quality healthcare. The three bills relate to transportation options, comprehensive reforms to strengthen the rural healthcare workforce, and reforms in healthcare delivery and payment systems.
Source: Office of U.S. Senator Al Franken
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Should Nurse Licenses Hold Across States?
Jul 13, 2016 - Arizona has enacted legislation to enter the Nurse Licensure Compact with 7 other states, thus allowing nurses to practice medicine in any state that is part of the arrangement without obtaining additional licenses. Advocates say the new approach helps ease nursing shortages, but some local governments are hesitant to lose revenue from licensing fees, and nursing unions worry about inconsistent state licensure regulations.
Source: Hospitals & Health Networks
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BREAKING: Slavitt Suggests MACRA Could Be Delayed
Jul 13, 2016 - CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt testified before the Senate Finance Committee saying that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is considering a delay to the start date for changes related to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), citing concern for the ability of small and rural practices to adapt to required changes. (May require free subscription to view full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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Corporate Business Plans, Not Local Need, Drive Hospital Closures, Report Says
Jul 13, 2016 - A report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation that examined the cause of recent closures of rural healthcare facilities, citing that some closures were because of business interests, but decisions lacked consideration for community needs or public input. The study examined three communities in Kansas, Kentucky, and South Carolina that lost their Critical Access Hospitals in 2015.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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Support, Flexibility at Home, Work Vital to Success in Rural Practice
Jul 12, 2016 - Opinion piece by a female physician, describing the challenges and rewards to be found in rural practice.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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New Program Offers Narcan at Tribal Clinics to Address Overdoses
Jul 12, 2016 - In response to an increase in opioid overdoses among members of Maine's five Native American tribes, the tribes have been targeted as part of the new Wabanaki Pathway to Hope and Healing initiative, which includes Take Home Naloxone programs in each of the tribal clinics.
Source: Bangor Daily News
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Rural Healthcare Providers Boosted by $1.8 Million in Funding for 2016
Jul 11, 2016 - The Office of Rural Health Policy announced that nine providers will each receive approximately $200,000 in funding for 2016, beginning August 1. Funding for subsequent years will depend on availability of funds, satisfactory performance, and a decision that continued funding is in the best interest of the federal government.
Source: Healthcare Finance
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Final Rule Expanding Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment
Jul 11, 2016 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a final rule expanding access to buprenorphine by increasing the number of opioid-dependent patients practitioners are allowed to treat. The new regulation will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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In Southwest New Mexico, a Public Health Clinic Offers a Model for Rural Care
Jul 10, 2016 - Describes the variety of programs and successes of Hidalgo Medical Services in delivering high quality and affordable healthcare services to people in rural New Mexico.
Source: InsuranceNewsNet
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The House Passes CARA Bill To Combat Opioid Epidemic In Sweeping 407-5 Vote
Jul 9, 2016 - Reports the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) through the U.S. House of Representatives on July 9, 2016. While the amount of funding for the bill is yet unknown, the legislation is designed to increase services for and fill gaps in substance abuse treatment, as well as provide other support in the fight against opioid abuse.
Source: Forbes
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Gov. Bullock Announces Changes to State Health Care Plan
Jul 8, 2016 - As a way to control rising healthcare costs, Montana is changing the way the state pays for health services by adopting a transparent pricing model. A majority of the state's hospitals, large and small, have agreed to participate in the program which will base pricing on 2014 Medicare costs.
Source: Billings Gazette
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Jenkins, Sánchez Introduce The Rural ACO Provider Equity Act
Jul 8, 2016 - Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Linda Sánchez (D-CA) have introduced the Rural ACO Provider Equity Act to remove barriers that make it difficult for Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.
Source: Office of Representative Lynn Jenkins
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HHS: Request for Information: Opioid Analgesic Prescriber Education and Training Opportunities To Prevent Opioid Overdose and Opioid Use Disorder Federal Register
Jul 8, 2016 - This request for information seeks comment on the most promising approaches in prescriber education and effective ways to leverage U.S. Department of Health and Human Services programs to implement and expand them. Comments are due by September 6, 2016.
Source: Federal Register
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HHS: Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders Federal Register
Jul 8, 2016 - This final rule increases access to treatment with buprenorphine and buprenorphine/naloxone, allows eligible practitioners to request approval to treat up to 275 patients, and includes requirements to minimize the risk that medications provided for treatment will be misused or diverted. This rule is effective August 8, 2016.
Source: Federal Register
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Death Toll Mounts 7 Months After ER Shuttered
Jul 7, 2016 - The director of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Ambulance Service reports that nine people have died in their ambulances since December, when the Rosebud IHS Hospital's emergency department was closed and patients have needed to be diverted to other hospitals up to 55 miles away.
Source: Argus Leader
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Ways and Means Takes Action to Support Rural Hospitals & Hold IRS Accountable to Taxpayers
Jul 7, 2016 - The Ways and Means Committee passed the Continuing Access to Hospitals Act of 2016, which provides an extension for the enforcement instruction of supervision requirements for outpatient therapeutic services in Critical Access Hospitals and small rural hospitals through 2016.
Source: Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives
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IHS Issues New Policy Ensuring Modern, Functional Medical Equipment
Jul 7, 2016 - The Indian Health Service (IHS) established a new policy standardizing and clarifying the minimum standards for medical equipment management, purchase, maintenance, and replacement at IHS facilities.
Source: Indian Health Service
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Commission on Care
Jul 7, 2016 - Press release announcing the final report of the Commission on Care, examining how best to organize the Veterans Health Administration, locate health resources, and deliver healthcare to veterans over the next 20 years.
Source: Commission on Care
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Think Tank Explores Innovations in Rural Healthcare Environments
Jul 6, 2016 - A one-day think tank held at the University of Kansas in March brought together about 100 healthcare providers, policymakers, and designers, where they outlined specific research issues about how innovative design solutions can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of rural healthcare systems. Panel discussions focused on healthcare system challenges and opportunities, policy implications for rural healthcare, and the role of innovation and technology in rural healthcare.
Source: Healthcare Design
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Bipartisan Bill Would Extend Moratorium on Direct Supervision Through 2016
Jul 6, 2016 - Legislation has been introduced in the Senate to extend enforcement delay on direct supervision requirements for outpatient therapeutic services in Critical Access Hospitals and rural prospective payment system hospitals with 100 or fewer beds.
Source: American Hospital Association News
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FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Takes More Actions to Address the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic
Jul 6, 2016 - The Obama Administration is taking actions to combat the heroin epidemic, including expanding telemedicine in rural areas and funding rural healthcare facilities, thus providing communities with much-needed services.
Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary
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Families In Rural Areas Using Telemedicine For Psychiatric, Specialty Care
Jul 5, 2016 - The University of Missouri provides psychiatric and counseling services via telemedicine to patients throughout the state, thus increasing access for rural families who might otherwise have to travel long distances for treatment. This has been especially valuable for children and adolescents, as the average age of patients in this program is 16.
Source: Forbes
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Speak Your Piece: The True Cost of Rural Hospital Closures
Jul 5, 2016 - Opinion piece by a Washington physician, drawing attention to the detrimental effect that rural hospital closures have on small-town economies.
Source: Rural Roads via The Daily Yonder
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With Hospitals in Critical Condition, Can Rural America Survive?
Jul 5, 2016 - Nearly 30 percent of the country's rural hospitals are at risk of closing in the next two years. Though rural hospitals have faced closure threats before, this time the challenges run deeper, and call into question whether rural areas themselves can survive in the absence of hospitals.
Source: Governing
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Bipartisan Bill Would Extend Moratorium on Direct Supervision Through 2016
Jul 1, 2016 - Legislation has been introduced to extend enforcement delay on direct supervision requirements for outpatient therapeutic services in Critical Access Hospitals and rural prospective payment system hospitals with 100 or fewer beds.
Source: American Hospital Association News
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HRSA: Lists of Designated Primary Medical Care, Mental Health, and Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas Federal Register
Jul 1, 2016 - This notice advises the public of the published lists of all geographic areas, population groups, and facilities designated as primary medical care, mental health, and dental health professional shortage areas as of May 13, 2016, available on the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) website.
Source: Federal Register
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USDA Announces Telemedicine Funding to Address Opioid Epidemic in Appalachia
Jun 30, 2016 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced five Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant awards to provide treatment for the opioid epidemic in rural central Appalachia. This includes $1.4 million for projects in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Source: United States Dept. of Agriculture
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Community College Will Offer Master's Degree
Jun 30, 2016 - Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado will begin offering a master's degree in the Physician Assistant program, beginning in 2017. There are already more than 1,000 applicants for 32 available spots.
Source: 9News
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Report Highlights Cost Estimates for Training Residents in a Teaching Health Center
Jun 30, 2016 - A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined the cost of training residents at Teaching Health Centers across the country. The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program was started in 2010 in an effort to increase the number of primary care providers being trained in community-based settings and practicing in rural and underserved areas. The program is set to expire in September 2017.
Source: The American Association of Teaching Health Centers
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Small Towns, Big Change
Jun 30, 2016 - Series of articles focusing on the health and well-being people and communities in rural parts of Colorado and New Mexico. Includes articles on maintaining access to emergency mental health services, a telemedicine program focused on helping rural stroke patients, rural hospital collaborations, and more.
Source: High Country News
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NRHA Members, Staff Participate in Democratic Rural Summit
Jun 29, 2016 - Synopsis of the Senate Democratic Steering & Outreach Committee’s Rural Summit on the opioid crisis and other rural health issues.
Source: NRHA Rural Health Voices blog
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Give Back: Making a Plea for Family Medicine Preceptors
Jun 28, 2016 - AAFP blog piece on the importance of community preceptor sites in order to adequately train physicians to treat the full range medicine and overcome the shortage of family medicine physicians. Written by Dr. John Cullen, a family physician in Valdez, Alaska.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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Funds Available for HIV Prevention, Care of Native Americans
Jun 28, 2016 - Indian Health Services (IHS) will award up to $1 million in funding to tribes and other organizations to help improve HIV prevention and healthcare outcomes in tribal communities.
Source: Associated Press via ABC News
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Astounding Nurse-Interpreters Save Patients and Doctors
Jun 27, 2016 - A 50-bed hospital in Bethel, Alaska is using Native nurses to care for patients and act as cultural interpreters for non-Native doctors who may not pick up on the cultural nuances of many of their patients.
Source: Indian Country Today Media Network
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Factors Affecting HPV Vaccination Rates
Jun 24, 2016 - Describes a recent study that examined the rate of HPV vaccinations among rural and urban adolescent girls and its correlation with the mother's socioeconomic resources.
Source: Medical Xpress
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HRSA: Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection: Public Comment Request
Jun 24, 2016 - The Health Resources and Services Administration seeks public comment by August 23, 2016 on the Small Rural Hospital Transition Project. The purpose of the project is to provide on-site technical assistance to nine small rural hospitals residing in persistent poverty counties to assist in their transition to new payment models.
Source: Federal Register
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White House Rural Council, D.C. Officials Visit EKU Corbin Campus to Meet With local Rural IMPACT Team, Tour Area
Jun 22, 2016 - Federal officials visited the Eastern Kentucky University South Region Campus to learn about the Berea College Rural IMPACT's processes and progress in ending childhood poverty in Knox County.
Source: News Journal
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A Small Town Bands Together to Provide Opioid Addiction Treatment
Jun 22, 2016 - Like many other states, Maine faces a shortage of treatment for opioid addiction. The problem is especially severe in rural areas where no addiction doctors practice and the nearest methadone clinic may be an hour's drive away.
Source: NPR
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VA Brings Mental Health Support Closer To Home For Rural Veterans
Jun 20, 2016 - Many veterans who have mental health issues live in small communities, far from mental health specialists. To serve the growing need, the Veterans Administration (VA) is expanding access by increasing resources and staffing, and allocating more than $24 million from the VA's Office of Rural Health toward innovative mental health programs for rural areas this year.
Source: Wayne County Journal Banner
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HHS Announces Major Initiative to Help Small Practices Prepare for the Quality Payment Program
Jun 20, 2016 - The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will award $20 million each year over the next five years to fund on-the-ground training and education for Medicare clinicians in individual or small group practices of 15 clinicians or fewer.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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Proposed Changes to the Payment Error Rate Measurement and Medicaid Eligibility Quality Control Programs in Response to the Affordable Care Act (CMS-6068-P)
Jun 20, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued a pre-publication notice of a proposed rule regarding changes to the Payment Error Rate Measurement (PERM) and Medicaid Eligibility Quality Control (MEQC) programs. The proposed changes address new eligibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act and make general improvements to PERM and MEQC program. The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on June 23, 2016.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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IHS Leader: Bill Would Help Reservation Hospital System
Jun 17, 2016 - The head of the Indian Health Service believes legislation introduced in the Senate would help the department fix severe quality-of-care deficiencies health inspectors recently found at hospitals on Native American reservations in the Great Plains.
Source: ABC News
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Scott County Hospital to Close June 26
Jun 16, 2016 - Pioneer Community Hospital, Scott County Tennessee's only hospital, will close on June 26 as a result of financial losses being incurred at the facility.
Source: WBIR
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Local Doctor Named President Of AMA
Jun 16, 2016 - Dr. David Barbe, who oversees five rural hospitals and 90 clinic practices in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas, is the new president-elect of the American Medical Association. Dr. Barbe practices in Mountain Grove, Missouri, a community of about 5,000 people.
Source: KTTS
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Southwest Kansas Hospital Finds Success by Focusing on Patient Needs
Jun 16, 2016 - During a time when many rural hospitals are struggling with their financial outlook, Kearny County Hospital in rural Kansas and its two rural health clinics (RHCs) are growing. With a shift in focus to center on patient well-being, the recruitment of additional providers, and an attractive vacation policy, more than 1,000 new patients have been added to the facilities in the last six months. Additionally, as part of a pilot project, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas is paying the RHCs a monthly fee for keeping patients healthy.
Source: WIBW Radio
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Rate of Insured Improves, Especially in States that Expanded Medicaid
Jun 16, 2016 - Summarizes a report released last week from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services that examined health insurance coverage across the country. Rural populations in states that expanded Medicaid showed strong growth in coverage for rural populations.
Source: Daily Yonder
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HHS Awards $156 Million to Health Centers to Expand Oral Health Services
Jun 16, 2016 - Announces funding to support the expansion of integrated oral health services and to improve oral health outcomes for patients in 420 health centers across the country and in Puerto Rico.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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New Mobile MRI Vehicle Allows Residents in Rural Areas to Receive Medical Attention
Jun 15, 2016 - Middle Georgians in rural areas can now receive services from Navicent Health's mobile Magnetic Resonance Imaging system. Navicent Health plans to begin using the mobile coach at the Medical Center of Peach County, Navicent Health and at the Putnam General Hospital, Navicent Health Partner.
Source: 41NBC
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Medicare Releases Draft Proposal For Patient Observation Notice
Jun 15, 2016 - CMS has released their draft proposal requiring hospitals to provide written notice to their Medicare patients if they have not been formally admitted. The letter must explain the reason for being placed on observation status and how that decision will affect Medicare's payment for services and patients' share of the costs. CMS is soliciting feedback on the draft notice through Friday.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Medicare Payment Advisory Commission Releases Report on Medicare and the Health Care Delivery System
Jun 15, 2016 - The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has released its June 2016 Report to the Congress: Medicare and the Health Care Delivery System. Topics covered include methods of preserving access to emergency care services in rural areas during this era of rural hospital closure, updated physician payments under the MACRA, telehealth, and more.
Source: MedPAC
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Tax Incentives Aim to Attract Primary Care Preceptors
Jun 14, 2016 - Maryland, Colorado, and Georgia offer a $1,000 tax credit for physicians who serve as preceptors to medical students, in an effort to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in rural areas.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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Ag Secretary Vilsack Says Long Past Time For Missouri To Adopt Drug Monitoring Program
Jun 13, 2016 - Q & A with Secretary Vilsack discusses the opioid crisis that rural communities across the nation have been experiencing, including the federal government's response. Looks specifically at Missouri, which as the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program and is experiencing a higher-than-average death rate connected with opioid and heroin overdoses.
Source: KCUR
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Remarks by Andy Slavitt, CMS Acting Administrator before the American Medical Association 2016 Annual Meeting Chicago, IL
Jun 13, 2016 - Blog entry with text of remarks concerning goals for the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and ways in which CMS plans to approach implementation of the program and set priorities.
Source: The CMS Blog
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CMS Issues Proposed Rule that Prohibits Discrimination, Reduces Hospital-Acquired Conditions, and Promotes Antibiotic Stewardship in Hospitals
Jun 13, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a pre-publication proposed rule that would modernize and revise the requirements that hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) must meet to participate in Medicare and Medicaid. The proposed rule will be posted in the Federal Register on June 16, 2016.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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CMS Announces $32 Million to Increase Number of Children with Quality, Affordable Health Coverage
Jun 13, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will help 38 community organizations in 27 states enroll eligible children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as part of the Connecting Kids to Coverage campaign.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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House Passes Hospitals Improve Patient Care Act
Jun 13, 2016 - The U.S. House passed legislation that would extend the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Project and address key reimbursement issues, including easing payment restrictions for some outpatient services at hospitals and adjusting 30-day readmissions penalties to account for socioeconomic disparities.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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Medicaid Change Could Reduce Native American Health Gaps in Wisconsin
Jun 13, 2016 - The federal government will offer full federal funding for transportation, long-term care, and other services provided indirectly by tribal clinics, a change that could help close health gaps for Native Americans in Wisconsin.
Source: Wisconsin State Journal
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Living on a Prayer: Rural Healthcare Impacted Before State Budget Woes
Jun 12, 2016 - Describes financial struggles faced by Fairview Regional Medical Center, an Oklahoma Critical Access Hospital affected by decreased reimbursement rates, increased costs, and uncollectible debt.
Source: Kitco
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Rural Hospitals Fear Medicaid Repayment Could Spell Collapse
Jun 11, 2016 - Seven West Virginia Critical Access Hospitals may be forced to repay millions of dollars in federal Medicaid money, due to a CMS requirement that disallows disproportionate share (DHS) payments.
Source: Charleston Gazette-Mail
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Reminder: July 1 Deadline to Apply for EHR Incentive Program Hardship Exception
Jun 10, 2016 - Eligible hospitals and professionals who did not achieve meaningful use in the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program for 2015 can apply for a hardship exception from the 2017 payment adjustment.
Source: American Hospital Association News
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CMS Provides Additional Resources to Improve Care and Prepare for the Quality Payment Program for Clinicians
Jun 10, 2016 - Blog post detailing features of the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative (TCPI) and its potential for improving efficiency and quality in healthcare.
Source: CMS Blog
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Affordable Care Act Dramatically Improved Health Insurance Coverage for People Living in Rural Areas
Jun 10, 2016 - The Department of Health & Human Services released findings which show that health coverage in rural counties increased between late 2013 and early 2015, and the number of rural Americans unable to afford needed care dropped by almost six percentage points.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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Gale Presents on Rural Opioids at United Nations Meeting in Vienna
Jun 9, 2016 - John Gale, of the Maine Rural Health Research Center, presented "The Overall Situation of Substance Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment in Rural Settings," at a 3-day meeting of the Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section of the United Nations' Office on Drugs and Crime.
Source: Maine Rural Health Research Center
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Speak Your Piece: Healthcare Innovation--Two Examples
Jun 9, 2016 - Examines independent and provider-based clinics and "health-care home" models as alternative approaches to healthcare in rural areas in which hospitals are closing.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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SCIA Passes Two Bills During Committee Business Meeting
Jun 8, 2016 - The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) passed the Tribal Veterans Health Care Enhancement Act and a bill to provide that the Pueblo of Santa Clara may lease certain restricted land for 99 years.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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The Anatomy of an HIV Outbreak Response in a Rural Community
Jun 8, 2016 - Blog post describing a dramatic increase in number of HIV- and hepatitis C-infected patients in a small, southern Indiana town which had never before been considered high-risk. Investigators discovered that almost all were linked to syringe-sharing and injection drug use.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Blog
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Senate Passes Thune Bill That Would Improve Access to Rural Health Care
Jun 8, 2016 - The Senate passed Sen. John Thune's Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015, which would amend the Communications Act to permit public and nonprofit skilled nursing facilities to apply for support from the Universal Service's Rural Health Care Program.
Source: Office of Senator John Thune
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Tester Bill Would Allow Medical Residents to Work in Rural Hospitals
Jun 8, 2016 - Montana Senator Jon Tester introduced a bill that would make it easier for physicians in medical residency programs to train and work in rural communities. If passed, the bill would allow Medicare reimbursement for time residents spend training at Critical Access Hospitals.
Source: Billings Gazette
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Rural Hospitals Fight for Medicare Reimbursement Rate
Jun 8, 2016 - Virginia's senators are promoting legislation to help rural hospitals in the state get the same Medicare reimbursement rate as urban facilities.
Source: WVTF Radio
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Helping Rural Counties Keep Abreast of Urban Counterparts
Jun 7, 2016 - Blog post addressing imbalances between rural and urban areas, in terms of access to healthcare, awarding of grants and contracts, and infrastructure necessary for telehealth outreach.
Source: Behavioral Healthcare
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Macoupin County Launches Outpatient Treatment Program to Deal With Heroin Epidemic
Jun 7, 2016 - The Macoupin County Public Health Department's new federally-funded program for people addicted to heroin and prescription drugs has attracted clients throughout downstate Illinois and is starting to make a difference in their lives.
Source: The State Journal-Register
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Female Physicians Discuss Strategies for Success in Rural Practice
Jun 7, 2016 - A recent study, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, highlights strategies for success and job satisfaction for female physicians practicing in rural areas.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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Special Edition CMS Rural Health Open Door Forum
Jun 7, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will hold a special edition conference call for the Rural Health Open Door Forum on June 14 at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. Topics covered include the HHS budget proposal for Critical Access Hospital payment and an update on the CMS Quality Payment Program.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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CMS Issues More Information on Pause of QIO Two-Midnight Review
Jun 6, 2016 - The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services provided additional information on its temporary pause of Quality Improvement Organization claim audits under the two-midnight inpatient admissions policy.
Source: American Hospital Association
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Jobs Gained and Lost from April 2015 to April 2016
Jun 6, 2016 - Rural areas and small cities have more jobs than they did a year ago, but the rate of growth is slower than in urban areas. A third of rural counties experienced a net decline in number of jobs from April 2015 to April 2016.
Source: Daily Yonder
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Medicare Makes Enhancements to the Shared Savings Program to Strengthen Incentives for Quality Care
Jun 6, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a pre-publication final rule to improve how Medicare pays Accountable Care Organizations in the Medicare Shared Savings Program for delivering better patient care. Payment will move toward a system that pays physicians for providing high-quality, coordinated care for patients. The final rule will be posted in the Federal Register on June 10, 2016.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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USDA Joins Tribal Leaders for Historic Meeting
Jun 6, 2016 - Blog entry detailing a meeting of elected leaders from 12 tribal nations, the USDA Acting Deputy Secretary, and representatives of tribal organizations. The meeting emphasized the integral role the USDA and tribal leadership play in providing access to nutritious foods, economic opportunities, improved education, and healthcare programs for Native Americans.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture Blog
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Where You Live in Kentucky Might Cut Eight Years Off Your Life
Jun 6, 2016 - New research shows significant variation in life expectancy among Kentucky counties, due to poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and other issues. All of the counties where residents have the lowest life expectancy are in Eastern Kentucky, while many of the counties with the longest life expectancy are in the triangle between Lexington, Louisville, and Northern Kentucky.
Source: Lexington Herald Leader
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Rural Utah: 'We Owe It to Them' to Break Cycles of Poverty
Jun 4, 2016 - Grand County is one of 10 rural Utah counties where a significant number of children are at risk of remaining in poverty as adults. State leaders have been studying public assistance dependency and intergenerational poverty.
Source: KSL.com
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Tribal Leaders: Reservation Health Care Needs Help
Jun 2, 2016 - North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Dept. of Health and Human Services acting deputy secretary Mary Wakefield met with about a dozen tribal leaders to address healthcare issues faced by American Indians living in the Great Plains.
Source: Grand Forks Herald
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IHS to Conduct Tribal Consultation on Operations of Regional Office for Great Plains
Jun 2, 2016 - The Indian Health Service (IHS) will conduct a consultation with Tribal leaders and confer with Urban Indian organization representatives to discuss the organization and operation of the IHS Great Plains Area Office, serving 130,000 patients in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
Source: Indian Health Service
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The Graying of Rural America
Jun 2, 2016 - Portrait of Fossil, Oregon, a community like many rural towns, with its aging population, decreasing employment opportunities, and distance from healthcare services.
Source: The Atlantic
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Rural Colorado Hospitals Fear Veto of Mental Health Bill
Jun 2, 2016 - Rural hospital providers hope Gov. John Hickenlooper will not veto legislation addressing state law requiring that patients on emergency mental health hold be taken to a designated facility or to a jail. Since few rural Colorado hospitals are designated facilities, sheriffs often incur the burden.
Source: Durango Herald
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Depressed Teen’s Struggle to Find Mental Health Care in Rural California
Jun 1, 2016 - Rural northern California residents who seek mental health treatment are frustrated by a lack of providers and insurance companies that unfairly deny coverage for inpatient services.
Source: KQED News
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Rural Hospitals Face Daunting But Manageable Challenges, Says Rural Health Expert
Jun 1, 2016 - Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, addressed the Governor’s Rural Health Working Group in Topeka, Kansas, and said that although rural hospitals nationwide are facing a host of financial challenges, states can still take action to keep them open.
Source: KCUR 89.3
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IHS Initiates Tribal Consultation on Draft Policy to Expand Community Health Aide Program
Jun 1, 2016 - The Indian Health Service (IHS) invites comments from tribal leaders on a draft policy statement that would expand the use of community health aides at IHS facilities operated by the federal government and tribes. The expanded opportunities include community health representatives working in health education, communicable disease control, maternal and child health, dental health, family planning, environmental health, and other fields. Comments on the proposed policy are due July 29, 2016.
Source: Indian Health Service
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Transparency Requirements for Health IT Developers Will Help Providers Know More About Their Products
Jun 1, 2016 - Describes increased transparency requirements that health information technology (HIT) developers must comply with. The new requirements were developed in an effort to help purchasers and users of certified HIT systems understand the capabilities and limitations of the programs prior to purchase.
Source: Health IT Buzz
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Pesticide Drift Awareness Important for Farmers, Rural Residents in Iowa
Jun 1, 2016 - Practical Farmers of Iowa encourages rural residents to be aware of the prevalence of pesticide drift and the financial and health risks it poses to nearby people, livestock, wildlife, and the environment.
Source: Britt News Tribune
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New Survey Shows Nearly All U.S. Hospitals Using Certified Health IT to Manage Patient Care
May 31, 2016 - Data briefs from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and survey data from the American Hospital Association show an increase in adoption of certified electronic health records (EHRs) for small, rural, and Critical Access Hospitals and an increase in the percentage of hospitals sending, receiving, and finding key clinical information.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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Wise Women Gaining Ground Fighting Breast Cancer in Southwest Georgia
May 29, 2016 - The Wise Women Rural Breast Cancer Outreach Education and Screening Program, created last year by the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia, provides services for low-income, uninsured women ages 40-64.
Source: Albany Herald
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Suicide Prevention Efforts Are Placing an Emphasis on Small Texas Towns
May 29, 2016 - High rates of suicide in rural areas highlight the challenges in providing mental health care. This article profiles the LOSS team started by Denton County, Texas, to connect survivors of victims of suicide with resources to help them recover.
Source: Texas Tribune
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Gov. Tom Wolf, Senate Democrats Forging Different Plans for Fighting Opioid Abuse
May 27, 2016 - Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf is reviewing a proposal to tax prescription opioid drugs and commit $35 million more in state funding for drug treatment. Wolf has already proposed spending $34 million on "health homes" where more than 11,000 previously untreated people would receive care for substance abuse.
Source: Readingeagle.com
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