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Rural Health
Top Stories

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

Dec 1, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that all tribal health programs and Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) have made their decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine either through the Indian Health Service or their respective state. Describes the importance of allowing Indian health providers to choose their preferred method of delivery based on what is best for tribal communities.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dec 1, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the annual Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) final rule, increasing payments to physicians and practitioners for the additional time they spend with patients, especially those with chronic conditions. This final rule adds more than 60 services to the Medicare telehealth list that will continue to be covered beyond the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Dec 1, 2020 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates between November 22-28, 2020, finds that for the first time in 10 weeks, rural counties saw a decrease in the number of new infections, with a drop of eight percent from the previous week. Discusses how the Thanksgiving holiday could have impacted reporting, as more than a third of U.S. states altered their reporting schedule.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Nov 30, 2020 - Discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted primary care offices and summarizes a study that estimated 16,000 physician practices have closed under the stress of the pandemic, while many more struggle financially. Describes how rural areas are especially impacted, as they already lack an adequate number of healthcare providers.
Source: NBC News
Nov 25, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined comprehensive steps to increase healthcare system capacity to provide care to patients outside of a traditional hospital setting in response to a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations. Efforts include the development of the Acute Hospital Care At Home program and new flexibilities for Ambulatory Surgical Centers.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Nov 24, 2020 - Features the Bridges to Health program in rural Oregon that utilizes Community Health Workers (CHWs) to improve access to resources and empower community members to improve their health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CHWs shifted to providing resources, such as medical or dental care, housing, food, transportation, and other basic needs, to those in isolation.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Nov 23, 2020 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates between November 15-21, 2020, finds nine out of every 10 rural counties are in the red zone with 100 infections per 100,000 residents, and 45 percent of rural counties are in the "very high" category with 500 infections per 100,000 residents. Includes an interactive map of all U.S. counties infection rates, as well as weekly data on the rate of new deaths and infections since June.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Nov 22, 2020 - Video follows healthcare workers at Unity Medical Center in rural North Dakota as they combat a surge of COVID-19 infections in their community. With case rates surging across the country, the small community hospital lacks the capacity and staff to care for critically ill patients they would typically transfer to larger facilities.
Source: BBC News
Nov 19, 2020 - Rural Open Door Forum speech from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator, Seema Verma, on the tenth annual National Rural Health Day. Discusses efforts by CMS to prioritize rural health and address challenges to healthcare access, including challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: National Rural Health Association
Nov 19, 2020 - Blog post from Michelle Hood, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the American Hospital Association (AHA), celebrates National Rural Health Day and shares lessons learned in her role overseeing healthcare systems. Advice for healthcare leaders includes meeting patients where they are, encouraging professional development of healthcare workers, collaborating with competitors, and building community trust.
Source: American Hospital Association
Nov 19, 2020 - Blog from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) celebrates National Rural Health Day and highlights the positive things that are taking place in rural health. Features innovative efforts by states to bolster telehealth access during the COVID-19 pandemic and address rural hospital closures.
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
Nov 19, 2020 - Summarizes a report that found one in five COVID-19 patients develop mental illness within 90 days of recovery. Carrie Henning-Smith, deputy director of the Rural Health Research Center, describes the possible mental health implications for rural residents, who are experiencing high infection rates and often lack access to adequate mental healthcare.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Nov 18, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs' (VA) Office of Rural Health (ORH) highlights resources available to support the health and well-being of rural veterans. Efforts include providing telehealth to connect veterans to the care they need, offering free training to community providers, pausing medical debt collection, and developing tools to support the Veterans Health Administration's workforce.
Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Nov 17, 2020 - Blog post highlights efforts by rural hospitals to improve access to maternal care in rural communities. Solutions discussed include recruiting "home grown" healthcare providers, partnering with larger hospitals and health systems, enlisting doulas, and utilizing technology to increase access to care. Describes how these solutions partnered with policy changes help to address challenges in rural areas.
Source: American Hospital Association
Nov 17, 2020 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates from November 8-14, 2020. Finds the weekly number of infections in rural counties reached 195,795, meeting a new record for the eighth consecutive week. 86% of rural counties are in the red-zone and more than a quarter of those counties have infection rates that exceed 500 cases per 100,000 residents.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Nov 16, 2020 - The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) organized a workshop series to share information and resources on substance use disorder (SUD) with rural faith leaders. Hosted by the Rural Community Toolbox, the first workshop, Substance Use Disorder and the Pandemic in Rural Communities, will be held on December 8, 2020. Includes registration information.
Source: Rural Community Toolbox
Nov 16, 2020 - Blog post celebrates the tenth annual National Rural Health Day on November 19, 2020. The Administration for Community Living (ACL) describes their commitment to the health and human services provided by the aging and disability networks across all rural communities. Includes information on ACL programs and policies that support rural people with disabilities.
Source: Administration for Community Living
Nov 16, 2020 - Summarizes a briefing from infectious disease experts who explained how the return of in-person classes at colleges and universities is one of the causes of the COVID-19 spike in rural Upper Midwest communities. Describes how these communities lack the resources, staff, and specialists needed to care for infected patients. Includes a map of COVID-19 red zones from November 1-7, 2020.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Nov 12, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Office of Economics and Analytics released data showing that the digital divide is closing, with the number of rural Americans living in areas with 250/25 Mbps broadband service increasing by 268 percent. Discusses how Phase I of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction will continue to expand broadband access across rural America.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Nov 12, 2020 - As COVID-19 accelerates its spread across rural America, hospital administrators in rural Kentucky and Nebraska discuss how their facilities are impacted. Faced with staffing shortages, bed shortages, funding issues, and increasing volumes of COVID-positive patients, rural hospitals are struggling to keep up.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Nov 10, 2020 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infections between November 1-7, 2020, finding that 80% of all nonmetropolitan counties are in the red-zone, or have an infection rate of 100 or more cases per 100,000 residents. Includes county-level data on areas with very high weekly infection rates, or 500 or more cases per 100,000 residents. These counties are primarily in the Upper Midwest and Great Plains.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Nov 10, 2020 - The Rural Health Value team is holding a webinar on November 18, 2020 to identify opportunities, questions, and potential next steps regarding the Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Community Transformation Track funding released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center (CMMI). This session will focus on CHART Lead Organizations, but is open to all interested stakeholders.
Source: Stratis Health
Nov 10, 2020 - Blog post discusses the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Investment Model (AIM) and its impacts. Analysis finds that the ACO Investment Model can help underresourced providers reduce spending to offset the costs of delivery system investments, even under an upside-only financial risk model. Describes how management companies support rural ACOs.
Source: Health Affairs
Nov 9, 2020 - Features a struggling rural hospital in South Georgia and the CEO that helped turn it around with the help of a seasoned CEO from another rural hospital. After implementing a swing bed program and taking in patients from out of town, the rural hospital improved financially, allowing the hospital to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Time
Nov 6, 2020 - Highlights research and a program at the University of Kentucky focused on providing patients at infectious disease clinics with access to mental health therapists, relapse prevention services, and medications. Discusses how this program aims to address the rising rates of opioid overdose rates in rural areas and increase access to specialized care.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Nov 5, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that the Connected Care Pilot Program application window will be open November 6 – December 7, 2020. Healthcare provider sites already deemed eligible to participate in FCC's Rural Health Care Program or COVID-19 Telehealth Program are also eligible to participate in the Pilot Program, which will provide up to $100 million over a three-year period to support connected care services.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Nov 5, 2020 - Summarizes research that shows 87 percent of rural counties had the highest rates of overall food insecurity. Describes that rural food insecurity was improving in 2019, but the trend reversed, intensified by economic issues worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Nov 3, 2020 - Sixth episode in a podcast series following a rural town in Kansas that recently lost its hospital. Features a teenager who lives with and cares for his grandparents. Discusses the prevalence of mental health issues and substance use, highlights the new community health center that provides addiction and behavioral health services. (Contains language some may find offensive).
Source: Kaiser Health News
Nov 3, 2020 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates by county between October 25-31, 2020. Describes that rural counties set a new record for infections for the sixth consecutive week, with 3 out of 4 rural counties on the red-zone list. Summarizes data for the month of October, when 389,000 rural Americans tested positive for the virus.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Oct 28, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new rural healthcare listserv which includes information about programs, policies, and resources to help increase access to quality healthcare in rural communities. Includes information on CMS and the listserv, including how to subscribe.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Oct 27, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules creating the 5G Fund for Rural America, which will distribute up to $9 billion over the next ten years to bring 5G wireless broadband to rural communities. The 5G Fund will use multi-round reverse auctions in two phases: Phase I will target $8 billion to areas lacking unsubsidized 4G LTE or 5G mobile broadband, Phase II will target $1 billion to the deployment of 5G networks that facilitate precision agriculture.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Oct 27, 2020 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates between October 18-24, 2020. Findings show that rural counties had a record number of cases, making it the fifth consecutive week that rural counties have seen a record-setting increase in infections. Includes an interactive map of new infections for each U.S. county, as well as additional findings.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Oct 27, 2020 - Fifth episode in a podcast series that explores Fort Scott, Kansas, a rural town whose hospital recently closed, leaving residents with little access to adequate healthcare. Features a former hospital administrator with blood cancer, who has to drive an hour and back to receive treatment now that the hospital is closed.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Oct 26, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that consumers can now preview 2021 healthcare plans and prices on HealthCare.gov. This allows consumers an opportunity to compare coverage options ahead of Open Enrollment for the Federal Health Insurance Exchange, which begins on November 1, 2020.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Oct 23, 2020 - Features a rural community in South Carolina, highlights the efforts of their municipal leadership to communicate with and provide for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Discusses how communities need to be examined at a municipal level to fully understand the social impacts of COVID-19 on rural America.
Source: National Rural Health Association
Oct 23, 2020 - Analyzes the rate of new COVID-19 infections in metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. Includes an interview with Carrie Henning-Smith with the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center, who describes the rural infection rates as ominous. Describes how the rise in infections could be due to "COVID fatigue," explaining that some find it difficult to be cautious as the pandemic wears on.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Oct 22, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced the latest Provider Relief Fund (PRF) application period has been expanded to include provider applicants such as residential treatment facilities, chiropractors, and eye and vision providers that have not yet received distributions. Applications for Phase 3 funding will be accepted until November 6, 2020.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Oct 22, 2020 - Commentary discusses the important role that libraries play in providing Internet access in rural and low-income communities. Highlights a public library in Pottsboro, Texas that offers telehealth services to its patrons during the COVID-19 pandemic, acting as a blueprint for other rural libraries and community sites that could provide telehealth services.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Oct 22, 2020 - Rural areas across the U.S. experience a spike in COVID-19 infections, while small hospitals lack the capacity and resources to handle a surge of patients. As healthcare workers are exposed to the virus while out in the community, staffing becomes an issue, and larger hospitals do not have enough staffed ICU beds to handle transferred COVID patients.
Source: NPR
Oct 21, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) authorizing qualified pharmacy technicians and State-authorized pharmacy interns to administer childhood vaccines, COVID-19 tests, and COVID-19 vaccines when made available. Includes requirements that must be satisfied to administer vaccines.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Oct 21, 2020 - Blog post discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problems rural hospitals face, especially as rural counties see infection rates rise. Highlights three critical building blocks for rural payment and delivery models: stability, including reliability of income and security that the funds are adequate; connectedness through telehealth support; and flexibility in allowing hospitals to tailor activities to local needs.
Source: American Hospital Association
Oct 21, 2020 - Describes how teledentistry allows dentists to remotely review records and diagnose patients over video, benefitting rural residents who often lack access to dental care. Includes arguments against teledentistry, discussing the technological barriers to implementation and claims that it allows dentists to cut corners.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Oct 20, 2020 - A struggling rural hospital in Georgia is set to close in October after experiencing severe financial setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, joining 11 other facilities in rural parts of the U.S. that have closed since March 2020. Describes the pandemic's impact on hospitals across the country and discusses how federal stimulus relief packages and Medicaid expansion has helped keep facilities afloat.
Source: Time
Oct 20, 2020 - Katy Kozhimannil, PhD, the director of the Rural Health Research Center and professor at the University of Minnesota, was awarded the Heinz Award for Public Policy from the Heinz Family Foundation. Details her research which has driven policy change regarding rural childbirth care and maternal mortality, the impact of doula care on birth outcomes, and structural racism and community health.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Oct 19, 2020 - Analyzes new COVID-19 cases from October 11-17, 2020, findings show COVID-19 continues to spread through rural America, with the total number of rural residents testing positive breaking 1 million. Includes an interactive map of new infections by county, a graph detailing the percent of counties in the red zone from August to October, and a list of rural red-zone counties by state.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Oct 19, 2020 - The Indian Health Service (IHS) is requesting tribal and urban programs submit comments on the IHS COVID-19 Pandemic Vaccination Draft Plan by October 21, 2020. Includes additional COVID-19 resources from other federal agencies.
Source: Indian Health Service
Oct 19, 2020 - Addresses the rise in domestic violence and abuse in rural America during the COVID-19 pandemic, with economic pressures and limited access to transportation contributing to the increase. Describes how social distancing requirements limits shelter capacity, discusses the potential long-term impacts on children exposed to domestic violence.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Oct 16, 2020 - The National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC) launched the online portal to collect official data for the Rural Health Clinic (RHC) COVID-19 Testing Program. All RHCs that received money from the program are required to report through this portal, which requests basic data regarding COVID-19.
Source: National Association of Rural Health Clinics
Oct 16, 2020 - Describes the challenges rural health providers have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they have adapted to address those barriers. Discusses how rural health collaboratives are relying on self-reported data, utilizing telehealth to increase access to mental health and addiction services, and offering curbside or virtual visits with providers.
Source: The Conversation
Oct 16, 2020 - Covers an outbreak of COVID-19 in a rural Montana jail, in which infections make up a quarter of all known virus cases in the county. Describes how COVID-19 is affecting the rest of the town, as hospitals and the public health system are at capacity. Discusses the difficulty of containing the spread of infection as social distancing in the jail is nearly impossible.
Source: New York Times
Oct 15, 2020 - Analysis finds that the rural rate of new COVID-19 infections is higher than the metropolitan rate has ever been. Includes a graph of the seven-day average of new infections per 100,000 for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties from March to October 2020.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Oct 15, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (NRSA) announced $500 million in awards to support, recruit, and retain health professionals and students through the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), Nurse Corps, and other workforce development programs. Includes a list of HRSA programs and the funding awarded in fiscal year 2020.
Oct 14, 2020 - The Rural Health Value Team is hosting a virtual discussion on October 28, 2020 to identify opportunities, questions, and potential next steps for organizations interested in the Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Community Transformation Track funding opportunity released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center (CMMI).
Source: Rural Health Value
Oct 14, 2020 - Analyzes new cases of COVID-19 infections between October 4-10, 2020, includes an interactive map of all U.S. counties' case rates. Findings show 61 percent of rural counties are on the red-zone list, having 100 or more new cases per 100,000 population, setting a new record of infections in rural America.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Oct 13, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced 386 applicants that are qualified to bid in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction. Qualified bidders will compete to receive up to $16 billion over ten years to provide broadband to wholly unserved areas. Bidding begins on October 29, 2020.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Oct 13, 2020 - Podcast covers what happens during a medical emergency in Fort Scott, Kansas, a rural town whose hospital shut down, leaving the community with little access to adequate healthcare. Residents of the town discuss what kind of healthcare is necessary to make up for the hospital closure, especially in the event of an emergency.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Oct 12, 2020 - Features Ely, Minnesota, a small town that can technically be identified as urban as it is located in the same county as the state's fourth largest city. In 2015, Ely's hospital closed its obstetrics unit due to financial concerns; discusses the impact of obstetric closures on rural communities, what can be done to curb rural obstetric closures, and the various definitions of rural.
Source: Public Health Post
Oct 9, 2020 - Discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted internet use and describes challenges to funding broadband and broadband-related projects. Includes a list of 15 federal agencies that fund these projects and how these funds can be used to address the lack of broadband access in rural areas.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Oct 8, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced amended terms for payments issued under the Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) Program during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Repayment will begin one year from the loan's issuance date, after which Medicare will automatically recoup 25 percent of Medicare payments for eleven months, and 50 percent for an additional six months.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Oct 8, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the final list of areas that will be eligible for bidding in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction, which provides $16 billion to census blocks with no fixed broadband service. Includes a summary of state-by-state eligibility for bidding in the Phase I auction, which begins on October 29, 2020.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Oct 7, 2020 - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $72 million in grants to help rural residents access healthcare and educational opportunities. 116 projects will be funded through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant which helps healthcare and educational institutions purchase equipment and software necessary to deploy distance-learning and telemedicine services.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Oct 7, 2020 - Provides an overview of a nationwide poll that reported one in every four households have been unable to get medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic, widening the disparities that already exist in rural communities. Describes that in rural areas, some obstacles to healthcare include high rates of uninsured residents, small healthcare workforce, and an increase of hospital closures.
Source: NPR
Oct 6, 2020 - Blog post describes how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) supports health literacy and provides physical and digital access to trusted health information. Provides an overview of Project TORDS (Technology Outreach to Reduce Health Disparities and Stigma), a program through the Network of the National Library of Medicine, that increases access to and provides training on the use of technology in rural and underserved communities of West Virginia.
Source: National Library of Medicine
Oct 6, 2020 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infections, describes that an additional 68 rural counties are on the White House red-zone list, meaning more than half of all rural counties are currently in the red zone. Includes an interactive map of all U.S. counties' infection rates between September 27 - October 3, 2020, as well as trends observed in the data.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Oct 5, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated guidance to its How COVID-19 Spreads website, including information about the potential for airborne spread of COVID-19. CDC continues to recommend people protect themselves by wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, washing their hands frequently, and staying home when sick.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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