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Top Stories

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

Administrator’s Blog: National Rural Health Day (November 16, 2017)
Nov 16, 2017 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from CMS Administrator Seema Verma on the topic of National Rural Health Day. Touches on challenges faced by rural communities like physician recruitment and what CMS will do to mitigate those challenges and help improve rural health.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Blog
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CMS Proposes Policies to Lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs and Combat the Opioid Crisis
Nov 16, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued a proposed rule intended to provide more affordable prescription drugs to Medicare Part D enrollees and to allow Medicare to combat overprescribing and abuse of opioid medications. A fact sheet on this proposed rule is available.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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2017 In Rural America, Community-Driven Solutions Improve Health
Nov 15, 2017 - Blog post from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) on the diversity of rural America as well as the shared strengths and obstacles rural communities face and the impact those obstacles have on health. Includes examples of innovative local solutions in rural communities that were awarded the RWJF Culture of Health Prize, as well as a list of rural health resources.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Blog
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Ways & Means Committee Leaders Announce Bipartisan Medicare Extenders Package
Nov 15, 2017 - The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means announced a bipartisan agreement to extend several expiring Medicare payment policies, including the Medicare Dependent Hospital Program and the Low-Volume Adjustment Program. The agreement includes offsetting the cost of these extensions with funding from other programs, including payments for Critical Access Hospital swing beds.
Source: U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means
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While Lower in Health Rankings, Rural Counties Still Have Advantages
Nov 15, 2017 - Details the results of the 2017 County Health Rankings which found that rural counties are less likely than their urban counterparts to receive high marks for health and are less likely to have organizations, people, and infrastructure in place to improve community health. Also touches on rural advantages that are more difficult to measure, like personal relationships and the interconnected nature of rural communities.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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Rural Food-Stamp Usage Holds Steady While National Rate Declines
Nov 14, 2017 - Use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) continues to decline nationally, but rural areas have not seen a significant decrease in usage. Details the ways in which SNAP use rates can reflect other economic trends.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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A Conversation with Karen Madden
Nov 14, 2017 - Radio interview with Karen Madden, the Director of the Charles D. Cook Office of Rural Health within the New York State Department of Health in honor of National Rural Health Day. Discussion focuses the history of National Rural Health Day and the Power of Rural movement, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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USDA Helps Rural Communities Thrive With Health, Safety Outreach
Nov 13, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced that it would be supporting health education projects for individuals and families in rural areas through the Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grant Program. These grants were awarded to extension agents and land-grant universities in nine states with a focus on prevention and reduction of opioid abuse and chronic disease prevention and management.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture
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Trump Picks Alex Azar To Lead Health And Human Services
Nov 13, 2017 - President Donald Trump has nominated Alex Azar to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Details Azar's professional history including his previous position as deputy HHS Secretary under President George W. Bush and the five years he spent working for the pharmaceutical company Lilly.
Source: NPR
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CMS: Medicare Program: Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Systems and Quality Reporting Programs Federal Register
Nov 13, 2017 - Final rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revising the Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and the Medicare Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System for calendar year 2018. Included in the rule is a provision that reduces Medicare Part B payments to Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSHs) and Rural Referral Centers (RRCs) for drugs acquired through the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Effective January 1, 2018, payments to affected facilities will be reduced from average sales price (ASP) plus 6 percent, to ASP minus 22.5 percent. Among others, Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and rural Sole Community Hospitals (SCHs) are excluded from this payment adjustment. Comments regarding provisions of the rule must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern on December 31, 2017.
Source: Federal Register
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How The Opioid Crisis Is Affecting Native Americans
Nov 11, 2017 - Radio interview with Dr. Ron Shaw, president of the Association of American Indian Physicians, about the impact of the opioid epidemic on Native American populations. Native Americans have the highest death rate from opioid overdoses of any demographic. Discussion includes the impact of historical trauma and the necessity of medication-assisted treatment.
Source: NPR
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One in Five US Adults Still Using Tobacco Products in 2015
Nov 9, 2017 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that found that 1 in 5 U.S. adults used some form of tobacco product in 2015. The report also includes data on tobacco use by race/ethnicity and gender. Higher tobacco use was found for adults living in the Midwest, people with a General Equivalency Diploma (GED), people with annual household incomes under $35,000, those with a disability, uninsured adults or adults insured through Medicaid, adults with serious psychological distress, and those who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Explore: How Many Young Doctors Does Your State Retain after Residency?
Nov 9, 2017 - Discusses the difficulty states face in trying to keep new doctors in state and in encouraging them to practice in underserved areas after they have completed their residencies. Also highlights data from a new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges tracking doctors and doctors-in-training by state.
Source: STAT News
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Critical Access Hospitals Unlikely to Engage in Advanced EHR Use
Nov 8, 2017 - According to a new study, Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) are less likely than other hospitals to use Electronic Health Record (EHR) data for performance measurement and patient engagement. The study suggested that this disparity could indicate a digital divide impacting small, rural and safety-net hospitals' ability to effectively use this data to improve the quality of patient care.
Source: EHR Intelligence
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Speech: Remarks by Administrator Seema Verma at the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) 2017 Fall Conference
Nov 7, 2017 - Speech given by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seem Verma at the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) 2017 Fall Conference. Discusses intentions to increase flexibility for state Medicaid plans, including allowing states to require physically capable individuals to be working, volunteering, or attending school or job training in order to qualify for Medicaid, among other things.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Using Urgent Care Centers to Support Rural Patient Care Access
Nov 7, 2017 - Highlights a strategy put forth in the recent Emerging Strategies to Ensure Access to Health Care Services guidebook released by the American Hospital Association's (AHA) Task Force on Ensuring Access in Vulnerable Communities. This strategy involves using urgent care centers (UCC), which are less expensive than emergency departments to maintain, as a way to serve the needs of rural and underserved communities more cost-effectively. Also links to an AHA toolkit designed to help communities determine if this strategy would work for them.
Source: Patient Engagement HIT
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A Conversation with Dale Gibbs and Tom Klobucar
Nov 7, 2017 - Radio interview with Dale Gibbs, the Chairman of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Rural Health Advisory Committee and a member of the National Rural Health Association Rural Health Congress and Rural Veterans Task Force, and Tom Klobucar, Acting Director of the Veterans Health Administration's Office of Rural Health. Discussion focuses on rural veterans' health in honor of Veterans Day, including barriers to access like provider shortages and transportation concerns, telehealth, and the Veterans Choice program, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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USDA Invests in Broadband Infrastructure in Unserved and Underserved Rural Areas
Nov 6, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $200 million to expand broadband infrastructure to unserved and underserved rural communities. These awards, financed through the USDA's Telecommunications Program, will fund projects in West Virginia, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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Perdue Announces Farm Service Agency and Rural Development State Directors
Nov 3, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced new Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Rural Development (RD) State Directors. FSA State Directors help implement USDA policies in planning, organizing, and administering FSA programs, while RD State Directors work to help improve the economy and quality of life in rural America.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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The Joint Commission Issues Updated Emergency Management Requirements for Hospital, Ambulatory, Home Health and Hospice Settings
Nov 3, 2017 - The Joint Commission announced updates to its emergency management requirements for hospital, Critical Access Hospital, ambulatory, home health, and hospice settings in an effort to help healthcare organizations more effectively plan for disasters and coordinate with federal, state, tribal, regional, and local emergency preparedness systems. These updates will be effective November 15, 2017.
Source: The Joint Commission
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CMS Finalizes Policies that Reduce Provider Burden, Lower Drug Prices
Nov 2, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) highlights two final rules, to be published in the Federal Register on November 15 and 16th respectively. The 2018 Physician Fee Schedule final rule will modernize the Medicare payment system to create greater competition in the biopharmaceutical market to lower costs. The Quality Payment Program final rule allows clinicians in small and rural practices to join together and share the responsibility of participating in value-based payments. This rule also decreases the number of clinicians required to participate, provides additional detail on clinician participation in Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs), and includes a new hardship exception for small practices affected by the recent hurricanes.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Apply for 2018 AHA NOVA Award
Nov 2, 2017 - Blog post from the American Hospital Association (AHA) detailing their NOVA Award, which recognizes innovative collaborations hospitals engage in to better serve their patients. Applications for 2018 AHA NOVA Awards are due December 1, 2017.
Source: AHA STAT
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CMS Finalizes Policies that Lower Out-of-Pocket Drug Costs and Increase Access to High-Quality Care
Nov 1, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced two Medicare payment rules. The Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment System and Quality Reporting Programs Changes for 2018 rule is using the 340B Program to reduce the cost of Medicare Part B drugs for hospitals in order to pass those savings on to beneficiaries. It also places a two-year moratorium on the direct physician supervision requirements for rural hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals. The Home Health Prospective Payment System rule will move towards a more patient-centered model.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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CMS Announces New Medicaid Policy to Combat the Opioid Crisis by Increasing Access to Treatment Options
Nov 1, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new policy allowing states to design demonstration projects to increase access to treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) and other substance use disorders (SUD). This announcement also includes the immediate approval of demonstration waivers for New Jersey and Utah under this new policy.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Joining the Battle Against Opioid Addiction in Rural Communities
Oct 31, 2017 - Blog post from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Director Gopal Khanna discussing the agency's efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, including expanding access to treatment through the work of five grantees in Colorado, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. Details the work being done by these grantees as well as tools and resources collected by the AHRQ to help with the implementation of medication-assisted treatment in primary care settings.
Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Blog
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A Conversation with Davis Patterson, PhD
Oct 31, 2017 - Radio interview with Davis Patterson, the Director of the Collaborative for Rural Primary Care Research, Education, and Practice (Rural PREP), Deputy Director of the WWAMI Rural Health Research Center, and an investigator in the University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies. Discussion includes rural health disparities related to access and outcomes, recruitment and retention, and the work of the Rural PREP program, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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HRSA: National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services Federal Register
Oct 31, 2017 - Announces the charter renewal for the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services (NACRHHS), which provides advice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) on issues concerning the financing and provision of healthcare in rural areas. Effective October 31, 2017, the renewed charter authorizes the NACRHHS through October 31, 2019.
Source: Federal Register
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New Toolkit Helps Tribes Take More Control of Research
Oct 30, 2017 - Highlights the Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH) which provides funding for a research coordinator for each tribe and developed an Institutional Review Board (IRB) toolkit to help tribes take more control of health research. CRCAIH was created to build a tribal research infrastructure and to give tribes more control over the research being done on them and in their communities.
Source: Midwest Medical Edition
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Avera e-CARE's Telehealth Services Work to Preserve Healthy Rural Hospitals, Communities
Oct 30, 2017 - Highlights Avera Health's telehealth service in South Dakota. Created 25 years ago to reduce burnout in physicians in the rural regions it was serving, the program provided peer support across five Midwest states. Now serving providers in 15 states, this system allows for quick pharmacy, emergency, and other specialty care from specialists and keeps patients in their own communities.
Source: AHA News
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CMS Offers Medicare Enrollment Relief for Americans Affected by Recent Disasters
Oct 30, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is giving individuals who have been impacted by the wildfires in California and the recent hurricanes additional time to enroll in Medicare Part B and premium-Part A if they were unable to make a request during the initial and special enrollment periods.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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CMS Administrator Verma Announces New Meaningful Measures Initiative and Addresses Regulatory Reform; Promotes Innovation at LAN Summit
Oct 30, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma announced a new approach to quality measurement called "Meaningful Measures," which involves only assessing the core issues that are vital to providing high-quality care and improving patient outcomes. This outcome-based approach is part of an effort to streamline quality measures, reduce regulatory burden, and promote innovation.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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HHS Acting Secretary Declares Public Health Emergency to Address National Opioid Crisis
Oct 26, 2017 - As requested by President Donald Trump on Thursday, the acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Eric D. Hargan, declared the national opioid crisis a public health emergency. The declaration will allow HHS to accelerate temporary appointments of specialized personnel, expand access to addiction treatments, and provide flexibility for other response initiatives.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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Partnerships Between Rural Hospitals and Academic Surgery Departments Can Reduce Costs and Patient Transfers
Oct 25, 2017 - A research team from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center has developed a new methodology to reduce rural area surgical costs, improve quality of care, and increase revenue for rural hospitals and academic surgical programs. By establishing partnerships between rural hospitals and academic surgery departments, each entity can benefit from the other's resources. The study, which was presented at the 2017 American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress, focuses on improving patient satisfaction through reduced costs, fewer transfers, and quality local service.
Source: American College of Surgeons
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Rural Hospital Closures Hit Poor, Minority Communities Hardest
Oct 25, 2017 - Details the results of a study from the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program (NC RHRP) tracking "financial distress indicators" for rural hospitals, focusing in large part on a map displaying the distribution of the 122 rural hospital closures since 2005. 60% of rural hospital closures have been in the South, and these hospitals tend to serve minorities and lower-income areas.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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A Conversation with Leslie Hall
Oct 24, 2017 - Radio interview with Leslie Hall, the Executive Director of the Michigan Rural EMS Network (MiREMS). Discussion includes the work of MiREMS and their cardiac resuscitation program, recruitment and retention of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals, and continuing education and leadership development, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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NRHA’s Scholarly Journal Seeks Editorial Board Volunteers
Oct 24, 2017 - The National Rural Health Association's (NRHA) scholarly journal, the Journal of Rural Health, is accepting applications for its editorial board. Three-year terms for open positions of the editorial board will begin on January 1, 2017. Applications will be accepted through November 30, 2017.
Source: NRHA Today
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Amid For-Profit Surge, Rural Hospice Has Offered Free Care for 40 Years
Oct 20, 2017 - Highlights the work of a non-profit hospice in Washington which, despite external pressure, has depended on volunteers and community donations to avoid accepting federal funding. This has allowed them to operate more flexibly because they are not bound by the regulations that accompany Medicare hospice funding, like only accepting patients with six months or fewer to live and requiring patients to receive care from a hospice physician rather than continuing with their own physician.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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CDC Reports Rising Rates of Drug Overdose Deaths in Rural Areas
Oct 19, 2017 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that found that rates of drug overdose deaths are rising in rural areas, surpassing rates in urban areas, despite a lower percentage of rural people reporting illicit drug use. This report, Illicit Drug Use, Illicit Drug Use Disorders, and Drug Overdose Deaths in Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Areas — United States, also found that the percentage of people reporting past-month use of illicit drugs has declined for youth aged 12-17 and increased substantially for other age groups.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Hospital Closings Likely to Increase
Oct 19, 2017 - Discusses recent hospital closures and indications that they are likely to continue because these hospitals continue to have insufficient patient populations, high rates of uninsured patients, dwindling cash flow, and physician shortages. It is estimated that 9% of rural hospitals are at high risk for financial trouble, and these hospitals often serve vulnerable populations with significant health disparities. Also touches on programs designed to help these hospitals improve quality and track their viability.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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Traumatic Experiences Widespread Among U.S. Youth, New Data Show
Oct 19, 2017 - Highlights new data on the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) across the country, in individual states, and by demographics like race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Also touches on the lifelong impact ACEs can have on a person's health and well-being and ways to mitigate these impacts by building resilience in children.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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The Health Wagon: A Telehealth Resource in a Rural Wilderness
Oct 18, 2017 - Highlights The Health Wagon, a mobile health service that has been serving rural Virginia for more than 30 years. Initially providing care out of the back of a Volkswagen, this service has expanded to providing care using Remote Area Medical vehicles, telehealth, mHealth devices, and drones. The area served has high rates of chronic disease, opioid abuse, and suicide.
Source: mHealthIntelligence
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Another Outbreak Related to the Nation’s Opioid Crisis: Hepatitis C
Oct 17, 2017 - Details the increased rates of Hepatitis C and how they correlate to the opioid epidemic by looking at West Virginia, which has the highest rates of overdose deaths and new hepatitis B and C infections in the country. Because those infected with hepatitis often do not display symptoms immediately, the disease can go untreated for years, leading eventually to end-stage liver disease. This is one among many diseases that are rising in the midst of the opioid epidemic, and although there is a treatment for it, for many it is not affordable. (May require subscription to view full article.)
Source: The Washington Post
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On Back Roads Of Appalachia’s Coal Country, Mental Health Services Are As Rare As Jobs
Oct 17, 2017 - Highlights the difficulty of accessing mental healthcare in rural West Virginia. Residents are faced with barriers like few providers, long wait times, distance, and limited access to vehicles. With the local economy struggling, common mental health ailments like anxiety and depression can be exacerbated. This is particularly concerning because the region has high suicide rates and because lack of mental healthcare can contribute to other health issues.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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'Katrina Brain': The Invisible Long-Term Toll of Megastorms
Oct 12, 2017 - Highlights the long-term psychological impacts experienced by people who have been through a hurricane or other catastrophic natural disaster and how this increases the need for behavioral health in the areas affected. Also touches on secondary trauma, where people who merely observe the event from afar experience psychological effects from witnessing the devastation and human suffering.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
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CMS Takes Steps to Help with Hurricane Nate Emergency Response
Oct 10, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced agency efforts to support Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi in response to Hurricane Nate, including waivers for hospitals and other healthcare facilities and special enrollment periods for hurricane victims. CMS is also allowing healthcare providers helping with recovery efforts to receive temporary billing privileges and licensed dialysis facilities not certified to provide care for Medicare beneficiaries to gain temporary Medicare provider status.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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A Conversation with Amanda Basso
Oct 10, 2017 - Radio interview with Amanda Basso, a registered nurse, a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ), a Certified John Maxwell Speaker, trainer, and Coach, a Certified DiSC Administrator, and the President of CSuite Consulting, a leadership consulting company. Discussion includes efforts to keep rural patients from driving to larger hospitals for care that rural hospitals are equipped to provide, hospital leadership and the value of hiring consultants, and telemedicine, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program Accepting Applications
Oct 10, 2017 - The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) has announced that it will be accepting applications for its Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program through December 6, 2017. Successful awardees will receive up to $200,000 a year for three years to improve healthcare access in rural communities by implementing evidence-based or promising practice models. Applicants may apply under the regular Outreach track for projects that focus on any health-related topic, or under the newly created track addressing cardiovascular disease called Health Improvement Special Project (HISP).
Source: Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
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Training New Doctors Right Where They’re Needed
Oct 9, 2017 - Highlights a residency program in California training new doctors in medically underserved areas in an effort to increase access to primary care in these areas. New doctors who complete their residencies in teaching health centers like this one provide care in underserved areas during their residency and are more likely to remain in an underserved community once their education is completed.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Seeks Feedback on Innovation Center New Direction
Oct 6, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center has released an informal Request for Information seeking feedback on a new direction to promote patient-centered care and test market-driven reforms. Comments will be accepted through November 20, 2017.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Americans in Rural Areas More Likely to Die by Suicide
Oct 5, 2017 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report which found that from 2001-2015, rural counties consistently had higher rates of suicide than metropolitan counties. Additionally, it found that suicide rates in rural counties were highest among American Indian/Alaska Native Non-Hispanics and that suicide rates were 4 to 5 times higher for males than for females across metropolitan and rural areas.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Hoeven Introduces Bill to Strengthen Public Safety in Indian Communities
Oct 5, 2017 - Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced the Tribal Law and Order Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2017. This bill seeks to improve data collection on Native American youth who come in contact with juvenile justice systems and on victims of human trafficking and to reauthorize several grants to help tribes address crime and substance abuse prevention and treatment, among other things.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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UMMC Designated National Telehealth Center of Excellence
Oct 5, 2017 - The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) has been designated as a Telehealth Center of Excellence by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and has received a $600,000 grant to build infrastructure for research in telehealth, with the possibility for an additional $2 million over two years. This designation will allow UMMC to focus on the impact of telehealth on healthcare spending, creating new and refining existing payment methods, improving physician and patient awareness, and expanding its research portfolio.
Source: The Clarion-Ledger
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IHS Awards $16.5 Million in Grants to Support Behavioral Health Programs
Oct 4, 2017 - The Indian Health Service (IHS) awarded $16.5 million in grants through four behavioral health programs: the Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention (SASP) program, the Domestic Violence Prevention Program (DVPP), the Behavioral Health Integration Initiative (BH2I), and the Preventing Alcohol-Related Deaths (PARD) program. These grants aim to address critical behavioral health needs for American Indians and Alaska Natives across the country.
Source: Indian Health Service
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MUSC Designated a National Telehealth Center of Excellence
Oct 4, 2017 - The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has been designated as a Telehealth Center of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and has been given a three-year, $600,000-a-year grant to develop its program and become a model for telehealth and telemedicine programs across the country. MUSC offers telestroke, telemental health, pediatric critical care teleconsulting, tele-ICU, and a growing telehealth network in schools and prisons, and are developing several other telehealth services.
Source: mHealthIntelligence
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Cancers Associated with Overweight and Obesity Make up 40 Percent of Cancers Diagnosed in the United States
Oct 3, 2017 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) latest Vital Signs report, Cancer and obesity, found that overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for 13 types of cancer, which account for about 40% of all cancers that were diagnosed in the United States in 2014. The rates of obesity-related cancers, excluding colorectal cancer, increased by 7% between 2005 and 2014, while the rates of non-obesity-related cancers declined.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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One Man's Quest To Feed A Hungry, Isolated California County
Oct 3, 2017 - Highlights the efforts of the director of a food bank to provide food to remote areas within his rural California county. Trinity County is one of the state's most food-insecure places, and residents in the remote area face long distances to grocery stores and treacherous roads in winter that can prevent them from getting out or anyone with food from getting in.
Source: NPR
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A Conversation with Tim Putnam
Oct 3, 2017 - Radio interview with Dr. Tim Putnam, the CEO of Margaret Mary Health, a Critical Access Hospital is Batesville, Indiana, and the chair of the National Rural Health Association's (NRHA) Policy Congress, the National Rural Accountable Care Consortium, and the Indiana Board of Graduate Medical Education. He also serves as an EMT. Discussion includes Accountable Care Organizations, the function of the NRHA's Policy Congress, and his work as an EMT, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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CMS Offers Broad Support for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with Hurricane Maria Recovery
Oct 2, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined several of the administrative actions they have taken in Hurricane Maria recovery efforts for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These include a waiver for certain Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP requirements for healthcare facilities, special enrollment opportunities through the Federal Health Insurance Exchange, transfer of patients for dialysis care, and a Medicare Part B Provider hotline to assist providers helping with recovery efforts enroll in federal health programs and receive temporary billing privileges while waiving the typical requirements for this enrollment.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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HHS Broadens Support to Shore up Health Care Facilities Impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico
Oct 2, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has implemented a three-tiered strategy to further aid healthcare facilities in Puerto Rico. These tiers include HHS deployed medical teams with their own equipment and medical supplies in hospitals in San Juan and in five regions around the island as well as liaisons in each of the other open hospitals to keep HHS up to date with supply and fuel needs. A hospital ship, five federal medical stations, and HHS medical personnel to accompany Urban Search and Rescue, are also being deployed.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Don Wright Designated Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Sep 29, 2017 - President Donald Trump designated Don Wright, MD, MPH, as Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Wright has served in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for nearly ten years, and has been Acting Assistant Secretary for Health since February 10, 2017.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Analysis of Human Needs Index Shows Unmet Need in Rural America
Sep 28, 2017 - A new report from the Salvation Army and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University found that the level of need in rural states is higher than government measures suggest. This report is based on the Salvation Army's tracking of basic assistance for things like food, clothing, housing, furniture, medical services, and utilities. Potential explanations for this discrepancy include less rural access to government services, a potential preference for local and church-based assistance over government assistance, and persistent unemployment leading rural people to stop looking for jobs, driving down the state's official unemployment rate.
Source: Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
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Open for Comment: Methods for Evaluating Natural Experiments in Obesity: A Systematic Evidence Review
Sep 28, 2017 - The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released a draft evidence report, Methods for Evaluating Natural Experiments in Obesity: A Systemic Evidence Review, and is accepting comments through October 25, 2017. This report is intended to help inform healthcare decision-makers in an effort to improve the quality of healthcare services.
Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
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HHS DRAFT Strategic Plan FY 2018 - 2022
Sep 28, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released a draft of their Strategic Plan for FY 2018-2022. Includes strategies to address provider shortages and improve access to mental health and substance use disorder services in rural and underserved communities, among other things. Comments will be accepted through October 27, 2017.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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The Return of the Doctor House Call
Sep 27, 2017 - Highlights several programs that provide in-home care to patients who struggle to make it to a doctor's office regularly, whether due to age, severity of illness, or because of long distances for rural patients. Also touches on the benefits of being in a patient's home to assess their living quality, any hazards in their homes, and how their medications are managed, among other things.
Source: Governing
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Hospice Services in Rural Areas Can Reduce Need for More Expensive Services
Sep 26, 2017 - Highlights on a recent report from the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center that found that expanding the use of hospice services in rural areas could reduce patients' need for more expensive and inconvenient medical treatments. Patients who use hospice services are less likely to visit a doctor's office, be admitted to hospitals, or require an ambulance. In rural areas, non-hospice patients were 22% more likely to use a skilled nursing facility and were also less likely to use home-based care.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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A Conversation with Pam Tripp
Sep 26, 2017 - Radio interview with Pam Tripp, the Chief Executive Office of CommWell Health. Discussion includes the work of CommWell Health and its specific programs, including lessons learned in making the organization financially solvent and in developing new programs, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Call for Papers for Health Services Research Theme Issue on Health Equity
Sep 26, 2017 - Health Services Research (HSR) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) are partnering to publish a Theme Issue on Health Equity, which includes efforts to reduce health disparities experienced by racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, persons with disabilities, and individuals living in rural areas. They are accepting studies, evaluations, and policy analyses that pertain to health equity from a variety of disciplines and encourage research that explores the intersectionality of social risk factors. Abstracts must be submitted by November 1, 2017.
Source: Health Services Research
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Findings from NSDUH Reveal That Only a Subset of Individuals Receive Services for Substance Use and Mental Health Issues
Sep 21, 2017 - A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Receipt of Services for Substance Use and Mental Health Issues among Adults: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, found that only 10.8% of the 19.9 million adults that needed substance use treatment in the past year received treatment at a specialty facility. It also found that 43.1% of the 44.7 million adults with any mental illness and 64.8% of the 10.4 million adults with serious mental illness received mental health services.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Rural Americans Less Likely to Wear Seat Belts, More Likely to Die in Crashes
Sep 21, 2017 - The newest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Rural Health Series found people in rural areas have a motor vehicle death rate 3-10 times higher than in urban areas. This is attributed to lower seat belt use in rural areas. Includes specific death rate data comparisons for urban and rural in different regions around the country.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., On the Agency’s Continued Efforts to Promote the Safe Adoption of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Sep 20, 2017 - Statement on the opioid epidemic and the intention to promote more widespread adoption of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) to treat people struggling with opioid use disorder from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Includes the Drug Safety Communication the FDA distributed to healthcare providers and patients that highlights the risk of serious side effects associated with combining certain MAT drugs with certain other prescription drugs.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
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Unbudgeted: How the Opioid Crisis Is Blowing a Hole in Small-town America's Finances
Sep 19, 2017 - Discusses the financial impact of the opioid epidemic in small and rural towns. Includes costs associated with increased use of the foster care system, law enforcement, the justice system, emergency medical services, and coroner and toxicology services. It's leading some counties to consider cutting money from economic development and youth programs. Also includes the impact on small businesses struggling to find drug-free employees.
Source: Reuters
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Indian Health Service Publishes Paper on Child Obesity
Sep 19, 2017 - Blog post from the Indian Health Service (IHS) on its recently released article in the American Journal of Public Health which found that the prevalence of overweight and obesity among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children aged 2-19 may have stabilized. However, the prevalence of obesity is still higher among AI/AN children than the general U.S. population of children.
Source: Indian Health Service Blog
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MAP Rural Health Workgroup 2017-2018 Call for Nominations
Sep 19, 2017 - The National Quality Forum (NQF) is establishing a rural health workgroup under the Measure Applications Partnership (MAP) to advise the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the selection of rural-relevant measures for use in certain federal value-based purchasing and quality reporting programs. The MAP Rural Health Workgroup will consist of no more than 25 members with expertise in the areas of rural health, program implementation, and quality measurement. The NQF is accepting nominations through September 29, 2017 at 6:00 pm Eastern time.
Source: National Quality Forum
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A Conversation with Mark Lindsay
Sep 19, 2017 - Radio interview with Mark Lindsay, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and the Medical Director for Allevant, a training and education company that helps Critical Access Hospitals manage post-acute care. Discussion includes Lindsay's work at Mayo and the work of Allevant, Critical Access Hospitals and swing-bed programs, and population and preventative health, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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