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

CMS: Medicare Program; Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals and the Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System and Proposed Policy Changes and Fiscal Year 2018 Rates; Quality Reporting Requirements for Specific Providers; Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program Requirements for Eligible Hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals, and Eligible Professionals; Provider-Based Status of Indian Health Service and Tribal Facilities and Organizations; Costs Reporting and Provider Requirements; Agreement Termination Notices Federal Register
Apr 28, 2017 - Proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) which, among other things, would revise the Medicare hospital inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) for operating and capital-related costs of acute care hospitals, implement certain provisions of various legislation, and establish new requirements or revise existing requirements for Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and other eligible providers participating in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs. Comments regarding the proposed changes must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern on June 13, 2017.
Source: Federal Register
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National Minority Health Month: Bridging Observance and Action to Achieve Health Equity
Apr 27, 2017 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health focusing on minority health, health equity, and social determinants of health. Also touches on efforts to address social determinants of health including a Chronic Care Management Education and Outreach Campaign created in collaboration with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Blog
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Disconnected Youth: Out of School and Out of Work in Rural America
Apr 27, 2017 - Details the increase in "disconnected youth," people 16 to 24 who are unemployed and out of school, in rural communities. Traditionally this has been seen as an issue in urban areas, meaning that research and funding for this issue have not been focused on rural areas. Includes chart comparing rural, urban, and other areas from 2000-2016.
Source: Stateline
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Call for Papers: Prevention and Treatment of Opioid Overdose and Opioid-Use Disorders
Apr 27, 2017 - Requests manuscript submissions to be published in a special issue of Addictive Behaviors focused on prevention and treatment of opioid use disorders and opioid overdoses. The submission deadline is September 1, 2017.
Source: Elsevier
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VETS Act Takes Aim at mHealth, Telehealth Access for Veterans
Apr 26, 2017 - The bipartisan-sponsored Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act of 2017 has been reintroduced in both houses of Congress. Among other things, this legislation would allow doctors to provide care for veterans across state lines, something that is currently prohibited unless they are in federal facilities. The aim is to increase access to care and reduce wait times for veterans, especially those in rural areas.
Source: mHealthIntelligence
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Rural Hospital In East Georgia To Close, Citing Economic Pressures
Apr 26, 2017 - Jenkins Medical Center, a Critical Access Hospital in Georgia, will close in June due to an unsustainable financial situation. This will be the seventh rural Georgia hospital to close since the beginning of 2013. Its services will merge with a neighboring hospital approximately 20 miles away.
Source: Georgia Health News
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Severe Shortage Of Home Health Workers Robs Thousands Of Proper Care
Apr 26, 2017 - Details the severe need for home health aides and nursing assistants across the country. Difficulty with staffing combined with low reimbursement rates make it hard for long-term care facilities to remain open, particularly in rural areas. This is especially concerning as the U.S.'s senior citizen population continues to increase. Highlights the difficulties being faced in Wisconsin as a touchstone for the larger problem.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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The Opioid Epidemic’s Startling Age Divide
Apr 26, 2017 - Highlights recent research on the trends related to the opioid epidemic, with particular focus on the different types of opioids used by people in their 20s and 30s, who are more likely to use heroin, compared to people in their 50s and 60s, who are more likely to use prescription opioids. Includes several charts on various trends related to opioid abuse.
Source: Vox
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Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America
Apr 25, 2017 - Executive Order from President Donald Trump on the establishment of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. This task force will be chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture and will seek to identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote agricultural and rural prosperity.
Source: The White House
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A Conversation with Bill Jolley
Apr 25, 2017 - Radio interview with Bill Jolley, the Vice President for Rural Health Issues for the Tennessee Hospital Association and the Executive Director of the Tennessee Rural Partnership. Discussion includes rural hospital closures, health coalitions, the transition from volume to value, population health, and health workforce recruitment, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Rural Doctors’ Training May Be in Jeopardy
Apr 24, 2017 - The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, a part of the Affordable Care Act, provides grants to community health centers to train medical residents in an effort to increase the number of primary care physicians in rural and poor urban areas. The funding for this program will expire at the end of September unless Congress votes to continue it. Despite a history of bipartisan support, the program is smaller and newer than many other programs and has been subject to cuts in the past.
Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts
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Minnesota Hospital Confronts Dilemma of Opioid Addicts Who Are Expectant Moms
Apr 22, 2017 - Highlights the approach of a hospital in Minnesota to reduce the number of premature births caused by expectant mothers using opioids. The hospital provides medication-assisted treatment and helps connect women with other resources they may need to be stable and successful, such as housing, transportation, and childcare. Many of the women served are from nearby rural and tribal areas.
Source: Star Tribune
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Hoeven Examines Implementation of the Native American Children's Safety Act of 2016
Apr 21, 2017 - The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), convened a field oversight hearing on the implementation of the Native American Children's Safety Act of 2016, which requires background checks before foster care placements are ordered in tribal court proceedings. As part of these considerations, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is identifying best practices for social service agencies in tribal areas in order to adapt these practices for use by tribal social service agencies to assure the safety of Native American children placed in foster care.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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Patterns Of Death In The South Still Show The Outlines Of Slavery
Apr 20, 2017 - Highlights the health disparities found in many southern counties with high or majority African American populations. Mortality rates for African Americans living in this area, much of which is rural, are significantly higher than the national average. People in this area have poorer health, higher rates of poverty, higher rates of unemployment, and less access to health insurance.
Source: FiveThirtyEight
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Cherokee Nation Files Lawsuit Targeting CVS and Other Pharmacies in Opioid Crisis
Apr 20, 2017 - Following in the footsteps of several other counties that have filed lawsuits against pharmacies and drug companies for allegedly not reporting suspicious patterns of prescription drug usage to federal officials, the Cherokee Nation has filed its own lawsuit against CVS, Walgreens, and other drug companies and retailers. The Cherokee Nation argues that these pharmacies and drug companies are partly responsible for the severity of the opioid crisis and its impact in their communities. They are the first tribal nation to bring a suit against drug companies over the opioid epidemic.
Source: STAT News
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CMS Calls On Rural Hospitals to Join Alternative Payment Model
Apr 20, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is accepting applications for their Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program, which tests an alternative payment model in small, rural hospitals that are still too large to qualify for the higher Medicare reimbursement rates of Critical Access Hospitals. This program has been implemented in 2004, 2008, and 2010, and was just authorized for a five-year extension under the 21st Century Cures Act.
Source: RevCycle Intelligence
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Trump Extends Troubled VA Program That Pays Private Doctors
Apr 19, 2017 - The Veterans Administration's (VA) Veterans Choice Program has been extended beyond its original August end point to January in order to give the VA time to propose a comprehensive reform package. The Veterans Choice Program aims to decrease wait times and increase access to care for veterans by allowing them to see private providers, but some argue that is actually makes getting care more difficult.
Source: NPR
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The Future of Healthcare
Apr 19, 2017 - Interview with Mario Gutierrez, the Executive Director of the California Health Care Foundation (CCHP). Discussion includes the successes and the challenges still facing telemedicine and the future of healthcare and technology.
Source: The Signal Center
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A Conversation with John Barnas
Apr 18, 2017 - Radio interview with John Barnas, the Executive Director of the Michigan Center for Rural Health, where he coordinates the State Office of Rural Health Program, the Flex and SHIP programs, policy, recruitment and retention services, distance education, and other rural primary care and value-based programs. Barnas is also a member of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) Government Affairs Committee and Medicaid Task Force and a board member for the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH). Discussion includes distance education for rural health professionals, rural hospital closures, and Accountable Care Organizations, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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A Pain in the Night and a Harrowing Drive: A Crisis in Rural Health Care Puts Mothers-to-be on a Risky Road
Apr 17, 2017 - Addresses the challenges faced by women in rural areas forced to drive long distances while in labor, an act which dramatically increases the risk for complications and for extended hospital stays. Focuses specifically on one family in rural Minnesota to illustrate these challenges while also highlighting the role that rural birthing unit and hospital closures have played in exacerbating these challenges.
Source: STAT News
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Rural Population Drops for Fifth Straight Year, But Other Patterns Are Changing
Apr 14, 2017 - According to Census Bureau estimates, the population in rural areas of the country dropped again last year for the fifth consecutive year, a trend that can be problematic for rural areas because it means fewer people contributing to local economies. However, the decline is smaller than in years past and the population in rural counties close to cities actually grew, both of which may indicate a possible shift in the trend back towards population growth. Includes several charts and an interactive map with county-by-county data.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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CMS Releases Quality Data Showing Racial, Ethnic and Gender Differences in Medicare Advantage Health Care During National Minority Health Month
Apr 13, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) released reports comparing the quality of care received by people enrolled in Medicare Advantage by gender and racial and ethnic differences. The first report compares quality of treatment between men and women. The second report compares the quality of care provided to different racial and ethnic groups, and this data is also separated by gender.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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CMS Issues Final Rule to Increase Choices and Encourage Stability in Health Insurance Market for 2018
Apr 13, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule that adjusts the annual open enrollment period for 2018 to align with Medicare and the private market, requires individuals to provide documentation to qualify for special enrollment periods, eliminates review of network adequacy at the federal level, and allows issuers more flexibility in their plans and policies. This rule aims to stabilize the health insurance market, lower premiums, and increase choice for consumers.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Broadband Problems Derail Montana’s Telemedicine Legislation
Apr 12, 2017 - Details the challenges of expanding telemedicine to rural residents where broadband capability is often lacking. Also highlights legislation in Montana that would have set telemedicine practice standards for the state but which has now been postponed indefinitely due to disagreement over whether to allow telemedicine to be provided using only a telephone, rather than a more complex audio-visual telehealth platform. In rural areas without broadband, a telephone may be their only option, but there is concern that this is not an effective way to establish a trusting doctor-patient relationship.
Source: mHealthIntelligence
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Suicide and the Rural ER
Apr 12, 2017 - Explores the lack of access to mental healthcare experienced in rural areas through the first hand experience of an emergency room doctor from rural Georgia. The expense of telepsychiatry and the lack of mental health providers in their rural area, compounded with the shortage of beds in state psychiatric hospitals and the expense of private care means that people in rural areas often go without the potentially life-saving care they need.
Source: Politico
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Health in the Heartland
Apr 12, 2017 - Provides an overview of health concerns in rural areas including suicide, shorter life expectancy, reduced healthcare access, high rates of uninsured people, and closing rural hospitals. Includes several charts and graphics.
Source: Politico
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Healthcare's New Rural Frontier
Apr 12, 2017 - Highlights the difficulties faced by rural residents in accessing healthcare as well as the difficulties faced by rural hospitals trying to provide care and remain economically viable. Focuses specifically on a rural hospital in Idaho that was on the brink of closure in 2013 and is now expanding services.
Source: Politico
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‘They’re Out There — If We Can Find Them’
Apr 12, 2017 - Explores the impact of social isolation and loneliness on health, a particular concern in rural areas and for elderly people. Isolation has been linked with higher blood pressure and increased risk for stroke and coronary heart disease. Details these concerns as well as efforts to address them in rural Maine.
Source: Politico
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Your Farm Is Trying to Kill You
Apr 12, 2017 - Delves into the dangers of farming, one of the most dangerous occupations in America, and explores some of the causes including how infrequently individual farmers update equipment and the political push from farmers against safety regulations.
Source: Politico
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In the Tennessee Delta, a Poor Community Loses Its Hospital — and Sense of Security
Apr 11, 2017 - Highlights the impact and contributing factors of rural hospital closures by looking at a rural town in Tennessee that recently lost its hospital and several surrounding hospitals. Also details the efforts and complications with trying to resurrect the hospital, find alternate healthcare solutions, and improve the health of the community.
Source: The Washington Post
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CMS' Accountable Health Communities Model Selects 32 Participants to Serve as Local ‘Hubs’ Linking Clinical and Community Services
Apr 6, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the participants in two tracks of a three-track Accountable Health Communities Model that will support local communities in addressing certain health-related social needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, including housing instability, food insecurity, utility needs, interpersonal violence, and transportation. 32 diverse organizations, from both urban and rural communities across 193 counties in 23 states, were chosen to participate in the model.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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A Conversation with Joy Williams
Apr 6, 2017 - Radio interview with Joy Williams, a 2017 Rural Health Fellow who has spent the past six years working with a faith-based organizations to improve health capacity in rural areas. Discussion includes the work done by this faith-based organization to involve churches in the health and nutrition of their congregations and their communities, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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VA Secretary Praises Congress for Extending Choice Program
Apr 5, 2017 - Press release from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expressing support for new legislation extending the Veterans Choice Program (VCP), a program which allows veterans to receive care from non-VA facilities under certain circumstances to reduce long wait times and improve access. The VCP will remain in effect until funding for the program is depleted.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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States Seek Medicaid Dollars for Addiction Treatment Beds
Apr 5, 2017 - Highlights the history of a provision prohibiting the use of federal dollars to support patients in addiction treatment facilities with more than 16 beds, which had originally been intended to encourage communities to provide care in smaller facilities. However, high demand for addiction treatment services in the midst of the opioid epidemic means that this requirement has become a barrier for those in desperate need of care. Four states have been granted a federal waiver allowing the use of Medicaid funds in larger facilities and several other states are seeking similar waivers.
Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts
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'Doctor' Robot Could Help Solve Sports-Concussion Dilemma in Rural America
Apr 4, 2017 - Explores the possibility of using remote-controlled robots to assess and treat athletes who receive concussions or other brain injuries. The technology allows neurologists or other trained medical staff to diagnose sports concussions from a distance. Research shows that doctors acting through the robots were able to diagnose concussions with the same level of accuracy as on-field, face-to-face physicians. Referred to as teleconcussion, some hope the technology will enhance concussion treatment in rural areas by allowing a single concussion specialist to cover multiple districts, and be immediately accessible when a consult is needed.
Source: Medical Xpress
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Senate Bill Would Let Medicare Test Telehealth Expansion
Apr 3, 2017 - Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced a bipartisan bill in the Senate last week that would allow Medicare to experiment with covering more telehealth services. The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act seeks to expand access to healthcare for rural patients. Under the bill, selected hospitals would be allowed to offer telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation would test the services for cost, effectiveness, and quality.
Source: Modern Healthcare
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EOP: Establishing the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis Federal Register
Apr 3, 2017 - Executive Order establishing the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addition and the Opioid Crisis, which will study the federal response to the opioid crisis and make recommendations to the President for improving that response. Also outlines provisions of the Commission related to membership, mission, administration, funding, reports, and termination.
Source: Federal Register
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Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West Addresses Issues Plaguing the Rural West
Mar 31, 2017 - The Stanford University Bill Lane Center for the American West recently held their 5th Annual Eccles Family Rural West Conference. This year's conference focused on addressing the urgent health needs of rural Western communities. A major theme throughout the conference was shifting from fee-for-service to health and wellness promotion, or focusing on upstream prevention rather than downstream treatment with a goal of creating a healthier rural West by focusing on health, rather than healthcare.
Source: Stanford University News
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Broadband Offers a Telehealth Lifeline to Rural Hospitals
Mar 29, 2017 - Discusses the relationship between access to high-speed, reliable broadband and the use of telemedicine in rural areas. While rural areas arguably have the most to gain from telehealth usage, they are often limited by a lack of broadband infrastructure. A recent report from NTCA — The Rural Broadband Association — highlights the potential benefits and pending challenges.
Source: mHealth Intelligence
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County Health Rankings Show Drug Overdose Deaths Are Fueling a Dramatic Increase in Premature Deaths Nationally
Mar 29, 2017 - Based on the recently released 2017 County Health Rankings, premature death rates are increasing across the U.S. among 15-44 year-olds. While many issues contribute to the increase, drug overdoses among 25-44 year olds is the primary driver. The statistics show that suburbs, smaller metro areas, and rural communities have the highest rates of premature death due to drug overdoses. Among racial groups, Native Americans and whites have the highest rates of premature death due to drug overdoses.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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A Conversation with Peggy Wheeler
Mar 28, 2017 - Radio interview with Peggy Wheeler, the Vice President of the Rural Healthcare Center at the California Hospital Association and a committee member on the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services. Discussion includes rural hospital closures and population health efforts in small, rural facilities, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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5 States with the Most Rural Hospital Closures
Mar 27, 2017 - Lists the five states with the highest number of rural hospital closures since 2010. Research was conducted by the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, and includes the name and city of each closed hospital. Closure is defined as the cessation in the provision of inpatient services.
Source: Becker's Healthcare
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Tennessee Rural Hospitals Show $994 Million Impact on State's Economy, Report Says
Mar 22, 2017 - Discusses the cumulative economic impact of Tennessee's 61 rural hospitals, based on the Tennessee Hospital Association's 2017 Rural Impact Report.
Source: Healthcare Finance
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Population Health Management May Worsen Physician Shortage
Mar 22, 2017 - Discusses the growing issue of physician shortage in the United States, with a projected shortfall of up to 88,000 physicians by 2025. Describes contributing factors, such as physician retirement and burnout caused by the pressure of regulatory demands. Also details new research showing that if the U.S. were to achieve its Healthy People 2020 population health goals, people may live longer, which could eventually make the physician shortage worse, particularly in rural areas.
Source: HealthIT Analytics
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New Program Aims to Quell Fears and Improve Health for People With HIV
Mar 21, 2017 - The University of Virginia School of Medicine has developed an online program for people with HIV who are not taking their medications and who have or have had substance abuse problems. Researchers realized that, especially in rural areas, stigma and fear of being outed as HIV positive were preventing people from taking their prescription medications. This multi-week online program, Pos4Health, provides support and education in an effort to reduce these fears.
Source: UVAToday
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A Conversation with Pat Schou
Mar 21, 2017 - Radio interview with Pat Schou, the Executive Director of the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network and the Illinois Rural Community Care Organization. Discussion includes hospital closures, reimbursement rates, and the collaborative work involved in the creation and continued success of the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Top Rural Community Hospitals Announced
Mar 20, 2017 - Presents the 20 highest ranked rural community hospitals in the U.S. based on eight factors: inpatient market share, outpatient market share, quality, outcomes, patient perspectives, costs, charges, and financial stability. These hospitals will be recognized during an award ceremony at NRHA’s Rural Health Innovation Hospital Summit on May 11, 2017, in San Diego, California.
Source: National Rural Health Association
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Tapping Telehealth for Complex Cases
Mar 20, 2017 - Highlights how advanced telehealth systems are expanding specialty care into rural areas of the country and some of the possibilities and challenges of this expansion.
Source: Modern Healthcare
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Suicide Rates On The Rise In U.S., Especially In Rural Areas — CDC
Mar 18, 2017 - Details the findings of a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on suicide in the U.S. from 1999 to 2015. This report found that people in rural communities, especially white and Native Americans, have the highest rates of suicide.
Source: Vocativ
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6 Charts That Illustrate the Divide Between Rural and Urban America
Mar 16, 2017 - Highlights some important differences between rural and urban areas of the country, including poverty rates, job growth, the rate of disabilities, and levels of entrepreneurship. Includes charts to illustrate these differences.
Source: The Conversation
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March 2017 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP
Mar 16, 2017 - The Medicaid Payment Advisory Commission (MACPAC) released its March 2017 Report to Congress on Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which recommends an extension of federal CHIP funding through FY 2022, includes information on monitoring Medicaid beneficiaries' access to healthcare, and presents the Commission's statutorily required analysis of Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments, which shows the continued financial distress of many safety-net hospitals and reviews various approaches to raising the minimum federal eligibility criteria for DSH payments.
Source: Medicaid Payment Advisory Commission
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What You Need to Know About Hospital Roles in Community Investment
Mar 15, 2017 - Explores the potential role of hospitals as anchor institutions - institutions that leverage their resources to improve their communities. Provides examples of how hospitals are making an impact and improving the overall health of their communities.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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Medicare Payment Advisory Commission Releases Report On Medicare Payment Policy
Mar 15, 2017 - The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released its March 2017 Report to the Congress: Medicare Payment Policy which provides a review of Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D, the prescription drug benefit, as well as an analysis of payment adequacy in fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare.
Source: Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
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ST Medical Monday: "Maternal Health Care Is Disappearing in Rural America"
Mar 14, 2017 - Radio interview with Dina Fine Maron, who recently published the article "Maternal Health Care Is Disappearing in Rural America" in the Scientific American. Only 6% of practicing OB/GYNs in the country work in rural areas. Interview covers the causes of declining access to maternal healthcare in rural areas as well as some potential solutions.
Source: Public Radio Tulsa
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Secretary Price and CMS Administrator Verma Take First Joint Action: Affirm Partnership of HHS, CMS, and States to Improve Medicaid Program
Mar 14, 2017 - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, M.D. and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma sent a joint letter to state governors affirming their intent to work with states to improve the Medicaid program through increased flexibility and innovation.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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A Conversation with Toniann Richard
Mar 14, 2017 - Radio interview with Toniann Richard, the CEO of the Health Care Collaborative of Rural Missouri (HCC), a rural health network in Missouri, and president of the Missouri Rural Health Association. Discussion includes challenges related to reimbursements, the work of the HCC and the Missouri Health Association to address social determinants of health, and importance of rural health leaders being invested in the communities they serve, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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HRSA: Notice of Meeting: National Advisory Council on the National Health Service Corps Federal Register
Mar 14, 2017 - The National Advisory Council on the National Health Service Corps (NACNHSC) will hold an open meeting on March 22, 2017, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern to discuss provider retention in rural areas, the redesign of Area Health Education Centers (AHECs), and provide an update on Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) scoring. The meeting may be attended via webinar or conference call, and the final agenda will be available on the NACNHSC website three days in advance.
Source: Federal Register
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By Law, Hospitals Now Must Tell Medicare Patients When Care Is ‘Observation’ Only
Mar 13, 2017 - Details the newly-implemented law requiring hospitals to notify Medicare patients when they are getting observation care rather than being admitted as an inpatient and to provide those patients with an explanation as to why this decision was made. As nursing home care is not covered under Medicare unless the patient has been hospitalized, this distinction can be an important one to prevent patients and their families from being blindsided by the costs. However, there are those who argue that while this may be less confusing, it doesn't solve the problem of nursing home care not being covered.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Wait Times Still High for Veterans in VA Choice Program
Mar 13, 2017 - The Veterans Choice Program allows veterans to visit a provider outside of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) for several reasons, including if the wait time for a medical appointment at a VHA facility is greater than 30 days. However, a recent study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that under this program, veterans still waited an average of 24 days to receive care.
Source: Health Payer Intelligence
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Mental Health Issues for Farmers and Their Families Often Remain Hidden
Mar 10, 2017 - Details the obstacles faced by many farmers in receiving mental healthcare despite the fact that their need is significant. Farmers have a higher suicide rate than veterans and any of the standard occupational classification groups studied by the CDC. Yet many rural areas have few, if any, behavioral health providers, and many do not specialize in working with farm and ranch families.
Source: Lancaster Farming
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Disconnected Youth: Growing up Jobless and Rootless in Rural America
Mar 9, 2017 - The Social Science Research Council's Measure of America (MOA) project released a report which focused on the percentage of young adults who are neither working nor in school. The national average is 12.3%, while in rural areas it is 20.3% and in rural counties in the South it is 24%. Factors contributing to this "disconnection" include high child poverty rates, lower rates of adults with college degrees, fewer school resources, poor physical health, psychological trauma, unsafe housing, and finishing high school with low literacy and numeracy skills.
Source: Yahoo! News
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IHS Announces Pilot Program for Child Trauma-Informed Integrated Care
Mar 7, 2017 - The Indian Health Service (IHS) announced a year-long pilot project to integrate trauma-informed care at IHS and tribal facilities. Ten IHS and tribally-run sites have been selected in Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Michigan, and Nevada. IHS is collaborating with the Johns Hopkins Center for Mental Health Services in Pediatric Care's Pediatric Integrated Care Collaborative (PICC) which works to improve the quality and accessibility of child trauma services in Native communities.
Source: Indian Health Service
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A Conversation with Nikki King
Mar 7, 2017 - Radio interview with Nikki King, an Administrative Fellow at a Critical Access Hospital in Indiana. Discussion primarily focused on the opioid epidemic, its roots in rural Kentucky, and the rural-specific challenges faced in trying to address it, including the impact of longer EMS response times, reimbursement rates, and too few mental healthcare providers, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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GOP Bill Would Repeal Obamacare Taxes And Penalties, Keep Some Subsidies
Mar 6, 2017 - Provides an overview of the proposed plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and explains some of the changes. Also discusses some of the positive and negative reactions to this bill from both sides of the political aisle.
Source: NPR
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Despite Federal Law, Some Rural Hospitals Still Turn Away Women in Labor
Mar 3, 2017 - Highlights the growing number of rural obstetrics departments closing as a part of a larger discussion about violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). This law requires all U.S. hospitals with emergency rooms to treat patients in labor, even if they do not have obstetricians or obstetric departments. Because women in rural areas tend to live further away from care and their pregnancies tend to be riskier than their urban counterparts, violations of this law can end disastrously.
Source: ProPublica
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Study Finds Effective Interventions to Prevent Alcohol Use among American Indian and Rural Youth
Mar 1, 2017 - A study supported by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that community-based and individual-level prevention strategies are effective at reducing alcohol use among American Indian and other rural youth. This study, which was conducted in the 14 counties of northeastern Oklahoma that comprise the Cherokee Nation jurisdictional area, is particularly significant because American Indians and rural communities have been underrepresented in studies aimed at finding solutions for underage drinking.
Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
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A Conversation with Joanie Perkins
Feb 28, 2017 - Radio interview with Joanie Perkins, the Chief Compliance Officer at a Critical Access Hospital in Mississippi. Discussion included work on telehealth programs, providing health screenings for children in schools, and importance of promoting the successes achieved at the local level in rural health, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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The Future of Health Care Is Outside the Doctor's Office
Feb 28, 2017 - In-depth look at Community Health Workers and the important work they do to reach people in rural and underserved communities. Explores the history of Community Health Workers, the gaps in healthcare that they frequently fill, and obstacles to incorporating them into the healthcare system, including concerns about their roles and how they are reimbursed.
Source: Governing
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