Skip to main content
RSS

Rural Health
Top Stories

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

Moving Work On Social Determinants Of Health From Health Funders To Health Funder Partnerships
Dec 13, 2018 - Blog post from Health Affairs discussing a meeting of 75 rural-serving leaders who attended the Southern Convening of Rural Philanthropists: Bridging the Public and Private Divide to collaborate on ways to close the chasm between rural private and public healthcare funders and organizations working in rural communities.
Source: Health Affairs Blog
view details
USDA Launches New Program to Create High-Speed Internet e-Connectivity in Rural America
Dec 13, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of $600 million in loans and grants through their ReConnect Program. This funding will help build broadband infrastructure in communities with fewer than 20,000 people in an effort to expand broadband access in rural America.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
view details
FCC Takes Further Steps to Improve Quality, Expand Availability of Rural Broadband
Dec 12, 2018 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced additional funding for the Connect America Fund, a program that helps expand broadband deployment and make broadband service more affordable in rural areas. This and updates to the Connect America Fund are aimed at closing the digital divide.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
view details
Researchers Make the Case for Home-Based Medical Care
Dec 12, 2018 - Details the findings of a recent study that looks at trends in the use of home-based care as well as the characteristics of the patients receiving this care, including sex, race, ethnicity, rural versus urban settings, and state of residence. Rural residents had significantly lower home-based care usage rates than metropolitan residents. This disparity is attributed to reduced access due to distance from providers.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
view details
Ways and Means GOP Introduce Health Legislation: Focus on Rural Access, Efficiency
Dec 11, 2018 - Press release from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means on several healthcare bills introduced by Republican members of the committee. Includes an initiative to extend the application by CMS of an instruction against the enforcement of certain physician supervision requirements with respect to outpatient therapeutic services in Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and small rural hospitals, and the repeal of a 96-hour physician certification requirement for inpatient CAH services under Medicare.
Source: U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means
view details
Healthier Communities Start With Kids
Dec 10, 2018 - Discusses communities around the country that were selected to participate in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Raising Places, an effort to explore how to create healthier communities for kids to grow up. Focuses on rural Hudson, New York and the changes that were made, including improvements to transit system.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Culture of Health Blog
view details
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Our Community Health Representatives 1968-2018 – Standing Tall for 50 Years
Dec 7, 2018 - Blog post from the Indian Health Service (IHS) commemorating the 50th anniversary of the IHS Community Health Representatives Program. The goal of this program is to provide quality healthcare services to American Indian and Alaska Native people within their communities through the use of well-trained, paraprofessional healthcare workers.
Source: Indian Health Service
view details
CMS Finalizes Rule on the Risk Adjustment Program for the 2018 Benefit Year
Dec 7, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule entitled "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Methodology for the HHS-Operated Permanent Risk Adjustment Program for 2018." This rule reissues, with further explanation, the HHS-operated risk adjustment methodology established for the 2018 benefit year.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
Low-Income, Rural Kids at Higher Risk for Second- or Third-Hand Smoke Exposure
Dec 6, 2018 - Press release from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on a recent study which looked at second- and third-hand smoke exposure in children in rural North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The study found that infants and toddlers in low-income, rural areas may be at higher risk than previously reported.
Source: National Institutes of Health
view details
Five-Year Trends Available for Median Household Income, Poverty Rates and Computer and Internet Use
Dec 6, 2018 - The U.S. Census Bureau released the 2013-2017 American Community Survey (ACS) five year estimates. The ACS data release includes statistics for every county in the country on more than 40 social, economic, housing, and demographic topics. This press release specifically highlights data on median household income, poverty, and broadband subscription.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
view details
USDA Invests in Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in 46 States
Dec 4, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $1.2 billion through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure for 936,000 rural residents. This funding will assist 234 water and environmental infrastructure projects in 46 states.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
view details
A Conversation with Brant Couch
Dec 4, 2018 - Radio interview with Brant Couch, the President of HealthSure, the program manager for the Rural Hospital Insurance of America (RHIA). Discussion focuses heavily on the work of the RHIA and on how rural hospitals can effectively manage risk, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
view details
Study Finds Tele-ERs Save Money, Improve Physician Recruitment in Rural Hospitals
Dec 3, 2018 - Highlights a new study from the University of Iowa which found that rural hospitals that use telemedicine to assist emergency room (ER) providers save money and struggle less with recruitment of new physicians. The study author says the results suggest that expanded use of tele-emergency services could help small, rural critical access hospitals maintain their ERs.
Source: Iowa Now
view details
HHS Secretary Azar Declares Public Health Emergency in Alaska Due to Earthquake Damage
Dec 3, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has declared a public health emergency in Alaska due to the recent earthquake. This declaration allows HHS agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) greater flexibility in responding to the needs of the people affected by the disaster.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
view details
In Rural Appalachia, Can Health Care Become the New Coal?
Dec 3, 2018 - Discusses a rural Kentucky town that has turned to healthcare jobs to provide a more diversified economic infrastructure. Includes a local community college providing healthcare training opportunities.
Source: PBS
view details
CMS Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program Results for Fiscal Year 2019
Dec 3, 2018 - Fact sheet from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program (VBP) Results for Fiscal Year 2019. The Hospital VBP adjusts what Medicare pays individual hospitals under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) based on the quality of inpatient care that hospital provides.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
CMS Strengthens Nursing Home Oversight and Safety to Ensure Adequate Staffing
Nov 30, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced initiatives related to nursing home oversight and safety, including sharing data with states when potential issues related to staffing levels arise and the availability of onsite registered nurses, clarifying how facilities should report hours and deduct time for staff meal breaks, and providing facilities with new tools to help ensure their resident census is accurate. These actions are designed to improve transparency and ensure adequate staffing and high-quality care.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
Another Drug Crisis: Methamphetamine Use By Pregnant Women
Nov 29, 2018 - Discusses a recent study documenting increased use of amphetamines among pregnant women in recent years. The study found disproportionate growth of the use of these drugs in the South, the Midwest, and the West, with rural areas having a higher rate than cities. Also touches on the not-uncommon trend of women using both amphetamines and opioids simultaneously, and the difficulty associated with stopping use of both while pregnant.
Source: NPR
view details
U.S. Life Expectancy Declines Again, a Dismal Trend Not Seen since World War I
Nov 29, 2018 - Data released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a continued decline in life expectancy. Suicide and drug overdoses continue to be major factors in the decline, with 2017 drug overdose deaths more than quadruple the number in 1999 and suicide rates increasing by a third between 1999 and 2017. Suicide rates in rural counties are reported to be nearly double that of urban counties for 2017.
Source: The Washington Post
view details
Deadline for Critical Access Hospitals to Submit Hardship Forms is November 30, 2018
Nov 28, 2018 - The deadline for Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to submit a hardship exception application to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for the 2017 payment year is November 30, 2018. The exception would make them exempt from penalties if the CAH can prove that demonstrating meaningful use would result in significant hardship for the facility.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
USDA Announces Investments in Rural Community Facilities That Will Benefit More Than 761,000 Americans
Nov 28, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $291 million through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program to build or improve community infrastructure and essential services. This funding go towards 41 projects and impact 761,000 residents in 18 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
view details
Wage Index Reform Could Buoy Rural Hospitals
Nov 28, 2018 - New report from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General looks at how Medicare reimbursement rates vary between rural and urban hospitals and suggests changes to the hospital wage index tool used to calculate them. (May require subscription to view full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
view details
How Hospitals and Health Systems Are Using Telehealth in Rural Areas
Nov 27, 2018 - Details ways that telehealth are being used to improve health in rural areas across the country. Touches on the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) designated Telehealth Centers of Excellence in South Carolina and Mississippi and successful telehealth programs in Maine, including one that provides telepsychiatry and one that provides preventive care to patients with multiple, high-risk diagnoses.
Source: American Hospital Association
view details
New Online Tool Displays Cost Differences for Certain Surgical Procedures
Nov 27, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched an online tool for comparing Medicare payments and copayments for certain surgical procedures performed in both hospital outpatient departments and ambulatory surgical centers. This new tool, the Procedure Price Lookup, displays national averages for the amount Medicare pays as well as the national average copayment amount a beneficiary with no Medicare supplemental insurance would pay the provider.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
A Conversation with Amy Yauk
Nov 27, 2018 - Radio interview with Amy Yauk, the Director of Nursing at Harper County Community Hospital (HCCH), a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) in Buffalo, Oklahoma. Discussion focuses the work of HCCH, the quality of care they provide, and their company culture.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
view details
CMS Takes Action to Lower Prescription Drug Costs by Modernizing Medicare
Nov 26, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed policies for 2020 intended to strengthen and modernize the Medicare Part C and D programs. These policies aim to provide more tools to negotiate lower drug prices and to pass pharmacy rebates on to seniors to lower prescription drug costs.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
CMS: Medicare Program; Revisions to Payment Policies Under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other Revisions to Part B for CY 2019; Medicare Shared Savings Program Requirements; Quality Payment Program; Medicaid Promoting Interoperability Program; Quality Payment Program Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstance Policy for the 2019 MIPS Payment Year; Provisions From the Medicare Shared Savings Program Accountable Care OrganizationsPathways to Success; and Expanding the Use of Telehealth Services for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder Under the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention That Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act Federal Register
Nov 23, 2018 - Notice from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of a final rule and interim final rule to address changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and other Medicare Part B payment policies and finalize policies included in the interim final rule entitled "Medicare Program; CY 2018 Updates to the Quality Payment Program; and Quality Payment Program: Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstance Policy for the Transition Year" to address the uncontrollable circumstances that MIPS eligible clinicians faced due to hurricanes in calendar year 2017. Also addresses some of the changes proposed in the Medicare Shared Savings Program for Accountable Care Organizations that were included in the August 2018 proposed rule. Finally, the interim final rule implements changes to permissible telehealth originating sites for treatment of a substance use disorder or co-occurring mental health disorder for telehealth services furnished on or after July 1, 2019. Includes comments received and CMS's response to them for all sections of the rule.
Source: Federal Register
view details
Rural County Champions a Culture of Health
Nov 21, 2018 - Highlights a rural county in Oregon and their efforts to improve their health rankings and make healthy choices easy for members of their community. This county addressed youth tobacco use, created a rural residency program, and improved graduation rates, among other things.
Source: National Association of Counties
view details
Dementia in Indian Country
Nov 21, 2018 - Blog post from the Indian Health Service (IHS) on dementia. Dementia incidence is high among Native American and Alaska Native people. Tools to evaluate and test for dementia were not developed for tribal populations. Because the average life expectancy used to be much shorter, dementia is a relatively new problem that tribes may not have the language or understanding to describe.
Source: Indian Health Service Blog
view details
ACA Premiums Costlier in Rural America
Nov 21, 2018 - A recent analysis of federal data reveals that premiums for silver plans under the Affordable Care Act can be significantly higher in rural areas than in urban areas. The researchers speculate that this is result of limited competition between insurance providers in rural areas.
Source: HealthLeaders
view details
CMS: Medicare Program: Changes to Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Systems and Quality Reporting Programs Federal Register
Nov 21, 2018 - Notice from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of a final rule with comment period to revise the Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and the Medicare Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) payment system for calendar year 2019. Among other things, this final rule updates the requirements for the Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) program and the ASC Quality Reporting program, as well as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Survey to remove communication about pain questions. The final rule is effective on January 1, 2019 and comments are due by December 3, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
view details
CMS Launches Efforts to Improve Patient Safety, Quality of Care in Nursing Homes
Nov 20, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a three-year initiative to improve quality of life for nursing home residents by equipping nursing home staff, administrators, and stakeholders with technical tools and assistance to enhance care. This initiative is through the Civil Money Penalty Reinvestment Program (CMPRP) and will develop tools to help nursing home professionals reduce adverse events, improve dementia care, reduce staff turnover, and improve staff performance.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
A Conversation with Marc Ringel
Nov 20, 2018 - Radio interview with Dr. Marc Ringel, a Senior Clinical Instructor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Discussion includes ways in which technological advances help and hurt medical providers, patients, and their relationship, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
view details
Suicide Increasing Among American Workers
Nov 15, 2018 - Highlights the findings of a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) which found that the suicide rate among the US working age population increased 34% during 2000-2016. This new report replaces a retracted report that mistakenly classified farmers, which led to errors in reported suicide numbers and rates by occupational group.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
view details
Rural Americans More Likely to Die from Preventable Causes
Nov 15, 2018 - Blog post from the National Conference of State Legislatures celebrating National Rural Health Day and drawing attention to rural health disparities. Although the country as a whole has seen declines in four of five leading causes of death, that decline is slower in rural areas. Rural people experience higher death rates from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke.
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures Blog
view details
How Hospitals Are Prioritizing Behavioral Health and Affordable Medication in Rural Communities
Nov 15, 2018 - Highlights two rural hospitals and the work they're doing. One integrated behavioral and physical health services in rural Montana. The other improves access to prescription medications through collaboration in rural Virginia.
Source: American Hospital Association
view details
On National Rural Health Day, We Recommit to Improving Rural Health
Nov 15, 2018 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma on National Rural Health Day, the challenges and strengths in rural health, and CMS's contributions to rural health, including the agency's Rural Health Strategy.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Blog
view details
USDA Invests to Improve Rural Health Care for Nearly 2 Million Rural Americans
Nov 15, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $501 million to improve rural healthcare infrastructure and services in 34 states. This funding comes through the Community Facilities direct loan program and will fund 60 projects, expanding access to healthcare for approximately 2 million people.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
view details
Celebrating National Rural Health Day: Highlighting Policy and Research
Nov 15, 2018 - Blog post from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D. on National Rural Health Day, the Rural Health Research Centers, and some of their recent, rural-specific studies and policy briefs.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Blog
view details
CMS May Allow Hospitals to Pay for Housing Through Medicaid
Nov 14, 2018 - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said in a speech that Medicaid may soon allow hospitals and health systems to directly pay for housing, healthy food, and more to improve the overall health of enrollees. Azar expressed that including social determinants of health in overall health considerations could allow the U.S. to spend less on healthcare while improving health. (May require subscription to view article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
view details
USDA Partners with Communities to Bring High-Speed Broadband e-Connectivity Infrastructure to Rural Areas
Nov 13, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the investment of $91 million for 19 projects funded through the Telecommunications Programs. The projects aim to improve e-Connectivity for more than 27,000 businesses and households in rural communities in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
view details
CMS Announces New Medicaid Demonstration Opportunity to Expand Mental Health Treatment Services
Nov 13, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced existing and new opportunities for states to design innovative service delivery systems for adults with serious mental illness (SMI) and children with serious emotional disturbance (SED). This includes the ability for states to receive authority to pay for short-term resident treatment services in an institution for mental disease (IMD).
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
CMS: Medicare and Medicaid Programs: CY 2019 Home Health Prospective Payment System Rate Update and CY 2020 Case-Mix Adjustment Methodology Refinements; Home Health Value-Based Purchasing Model; Home Health Quality Reporting Requirements; Home Infusion Therapy Requirements; and Training Requirements for Surveyors of National Accrediting Organizations Federal Register
Nov 13, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued a final rule with comment period to update the home health prospective payment system (HH PPS) rates effective for services provided beginning January 1, 2019. Among many other things, the rule also finalizes the methodology for determining rural add-on payments for calendar years 2019-2022 and finalizes the definition of "remote patient monitoring" and recognizes it as an allowable administrative cost. Comments on the final rule are due by December 31, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
view details
Don’t Try to Fit Rural Health Into an Urban Box
Nov 12, 2018 - Blog post from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), written by Melissa Bosworth, the executive director of the Eastern Plains Healthcare Consortium, a five-hospital collaborative in the rural West. Looks at systemic barriers faced in rural areas and includes recommendations for improving rural health access and equity
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Culture of Health Blog
view details
A Conversation with Kristine Sande
Nov 12, 2018 - Radio interview with Kristine Sande, the Program Director of the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub) and an Associate Director at the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health. Discussion includes National Rural Health Day, the importance of sharing positive rural health stories, and the work and resources of the RHIhub, including the topic guide on the Rural Response to the Opioid Crisis and how rural organizations can use to to help address the opioid crisis, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
view details
Should Childhood Trauma Be Treated As A Public Health Crisis?
Nov 9, 2018 - Discusses findings from a new study that suggests that it could be more effective to approach childhood trauma as a public health concern than to limit treatment to individuals. The study drew on the experiences of participants in a study that followed 1,420 children from mostly rural parts of western North Carolina, including a high number of Native American participants, over 22 years. Researchers found a clear connection between childhood trauma and adult hardships.
Source: NPR
view details
Better Broadband Needed to Meet Telehealth Needs, USDA Report Warns
Nov 8, 2018 - Summarizes a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture which found that rural residents lagged behind urban residents in various types of telehealth usage. It also found that in order to meet future telehealth demand, wider availability of high-quality broadband would be necessary.
Source: Healthcare Dive
view details
Quality Payment Program (QPP) Year 1 Performance Results
Nov 8, 2018 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on the performance results of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) under the Quality Payment Program (QPP). Touches on the Small, Underserved, and Rural Support initiative.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Blog
view details
A Conversation with Hilda Heady
Nov 8, 2018 - Radio interview with Hilda Heady, a rural health and veterans' advocate. Discussion covers healthcare for rural veterans, including considerations for minority, female, and homeless veterans, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
view details
Too Few Doctors and Nurses for Veterans in Some Areas
Nov 7, 2018 - Discusses physician vacancies at VA facilities around the country, which can cause long wait times for care. Some of the highest vacancy rates are in highly rural states, where recruiting physicians is already difficult. There are 40,000 vacancies around the country, but the VA is prioritizing filling primary care, internist, women's health, and mental health positions first.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
view details
How Hospitals Can Tackle The Maternal Mortality Crisis
Nov 6, 2018 - Discusses maternal mortality trends in the U.S. and features an interview with one of the authors of a recent essay in the New England Journal of Medicine arguing that preparing for three common complications during childbirth can make a significant difference in these numbers. Touches on the increased difficulty for rural providers with fewer resources.
Source: NPR
view details
Rural American Hospitals Are Not Prepared for the Rise in Babies Born with Opioid Withdrawal
Nov 5, 2018 - Highlights the results of a new study on opioid use disorder (OUD) during pregnancy. Both maternal OUD and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) are increasing disproportionately among rural residents. This is complicated by the fact that fewer than half of rural county hospitals offer obstetric care, and higher-acuity care is frequently not available.
Source: Quartz
view details
CMS Finalizes Rule that Encourages More Choices and Lower Costs for Seniors
Nov 2, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule related to the Hospital Outpatient Prospective System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System. This final rule aims to strengthen the Medicare program by providing seniors with more choices and lower cost options. A fact sheet on this final rule is available.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
Trump Administration Announces Decline in Veteran Homelessness
Nov 1, 2018 - Details the results of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Annual Homeless Assessment Report, which found that the total number of veterans experiencing homelessness in 2018 decreased 5.4% from last year and has fallen to almost half of the number reported in 2010. Local estimates of veteran homelessness are available.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
view details
CMS Finalizes Changes to Advance Innovation, Restore Focus on Patients
Nov 1, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized rules related to the 2019 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and the Quality Payment Program (QPP). Fact sheets on the PFS final rule and the QPP final rule are available. CMS also updated some policies related to Medicare's Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) program, although broader reforms to the ACO program were proposed in a separate rule.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
CMS Finalizes Policies to Modernize and Drive Innovation in Durable Medical Equipment (DME) and End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Programs
Nov 1, 2018 - In an effort to increase patient access to items and services, drive competition, and increase affordability, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized release a final rule that makes changes to the Medicare payment rules for Durable Medical Equipment Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) and the End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) programs. A fact sheet on this final rule is available.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
The 2020 Census and American Indian and Alaska Native Areas
Nov 1, 2018 - Blog post from the U.S. Census Bureau about challenges associated with conducting the census in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. Touches on collaborations between the Census Bureau and AI/AN tribes to overcome these challenges and get an accurate count so that these communities are able to receive the federal funding they are eligible for.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Blog
view details
IHS Announces a New Policy to Expand Access to Medication Assisted Treatment in Remote Locations
Nov 1, 2018 - Blog post from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the Indian Health Service's (IHS) new Internet Eligible Controlled Substance Provider Designation policy. This policy allows IHS, tribal, and urban Indian organization healthcare providers the opportunity to provide medication assisted treatment through telemedicine in an effort to improve access to treatment for opioid use disorder for American Indian and Alaska Native people in rural and remote areas.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Blog
view details
CMS: Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), Medicaid Fee-For-Service, and Medicaid Managed Care Programs for Years 2020 and 2021 Federal Register
Nov 1, 2018 - Notice of proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to revise the Medicare Advantage (MA) program (Part C) regulations and Prescription Drug Benefit program (Part D). The revisions would implement certain provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, improve quality and accessibility, clarify program integrity policies, and reduce burden on providers, MA plans, and Part D sponsors, among other things. Includes information about MA plans offering telehealth benefits beginning in plan year 2020 and other rural considerations throughout. Comments on the proposed rule are due within 60 days of publication of this notice in the Federal Register, which is scheduled for November 1, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
view details
'OSU and the Cherokee Nation Will Grow Our Own Doctors': First Tribally Affiliated Medical School in U.S. To Open in 2020
Oct 31, 2018 - Discusses the impact of the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation, the first tribally associated medical school in the country. This med school will focus on the education of primary care physicians with an interest in providing care to tribal and rural populations in Oklahoma. An inaugural class of 50 students will begin in August 2020.
Source: Tulsa World
view details
Long Stigmatized, Methadone Clinics Multiply in Some States
Oct 31, 2018 - Discusses the use of and need for methadone clinics to provide treatment for some people struggling with opioid misuse disorder, comparing access to these clinics between states. Many states have made a concerted effort to improve access in rural and suburban areas in response to the opioid crisis, while other states remain skeptical.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
view details
CMS Takes Action to Modernize Medicare Home Health
Oct 31, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized changes to the Home Health Prospective Payment System in an effort to improve access to solutions via remote patient monitoring technology, update payments for home healthcare with a new case-mix system, begin the new home infusion therapy benefit, and reduce burden. A fact sheet on this final rule is available.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
USDA Announces Funding to Increase Access to Education, Workforce Training and Health Care Opportunities in Rural Communities
Oct 31, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $39.6 million in funding for 128 projects to increase access to job training, educational, and healthcare services in rural areas. Funding for these projects comes from the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. More than 4.5 million residents in 40 states and three territories will benefit from the funding.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
view details
USDA and ONDCP Unveil Latest Tool to Help Rural Communities Address the Opioid Epidemic
Oct 30, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) have released the Rural Resource Guide to Help Communities Address Substance Use Disorder and Opioid Misuse, a list of federal programs that can be used to build resilient communities and address opioid misuse in rural areas.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
view details
Accessing Health Care in Rural America
Oct 30, 2018 - Discusses barriers to accessing healthcare in rural areas as well as a number of ways that rural communities have addressed access issues. Touches on the demand for healthcare professionals, telehealth, transportation, hospital and obstetric department closures, and Community Health Workers (CHWs), among other things.
Source: U.S. News and World Report
view details
Research Brief: Opioid-Affected Births to Rural Residents Are Increasing in Both Rural and Urban Hospitals
Oct 29, 2018 - Details a recent study from the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center. This study looked at where rural mothers with opioid use disorder gave birth and examined the characteristics of opioid-affected births to rural mothers based on whether they occurred in rural hospitals, urban non-teaching hospitals, or urban teaching hospitals.
Source: University of Minnesota
view details
A Sense of Alarm as Rural Hospitals Keep Closing
Oct 29, 2018 - Discusses the issue of rural hospital closures, including contributing factors and the impact closures can have on health in the affected communities. In every year since 2011, more hospitals have closed than opened.
Source: The New York Times
view details
A Conversation with Dave Conejo
Oct 29, 2018 - Radio interview with David Conejo, the CEO of Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services (RMCHCS) in Gallup, New Mexico. Discussion includes the work of RMCHCS, including efforts to combat substance abuse, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
view details
A Rural Community Decided To Treat Its Opioid Problem Like A Natural Disaster
Oct 28, 2018 - Details the efforts of Washington's Snohomish County to address the opioid epidemic. This rural county is the first in the country to respond to the crisis like a natural disaster, inspired by their experience with responding to the 2014 landslide in Oso, Washington.
Source: NPR
view details
Seniors In The Deep South And Rural Western States Prescribed Most Benzodiazepines And Opioids
Oct 26, 2018 - Details a new University of Michigan study which found that older male doctors in the South and in rural Western states are prescribing high numbers of sedatives and opioids to seniors. The highest intensity prescribing was in Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, Florida, and Louisiana. The study seems to indicate that these doctors are medicating older patients' distress, but potentially contributing to the shorter life expectancy in these areas.
Source: Forbes
view details
IHS Quality Program Focuses on Patient-Centered, Safe Health Care
Oct 26, 2018 - Blog post from the Indian Health Service (IHS) for National Health Care Quality Week. Discusses IHS programs designed to provide quality, patient-centered, safe, and reliable healthcare for American Indian and Alaska Native people using IHS healthcare programs.
Source: Indian Health Service Blog
view details
CMS Proposes to Modernize Medicare Advantage, Expand Telehealth Access for Patients
Oct 26, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that would allow Medicare Advantage and Part D program plans to cover additional telehealth benefits. Other changes aim to make it easier for enrollees in certain Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans to navigate the system, improve program integrity, require plans to more seamlessly integrate benefits across two programs, and help CMS recover improper payments made to Medicare Advantage organizations.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
Justice Department’s Criminal Division Creates Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force to Focus on Illegal Opioid Prescriptions
Oct 25, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the formation of the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force (ARPO Strike Force). This strike force will identify and investigate healthcare fraud schemes in the Appalachian region and surrounding areas, and prosecute medical professionals and others involved in the illegal prescription and distribution of opioids. This is a collaboration of the Health Care Fraud Unit in the Criminal Division's Fraud Section (HCF Unit), the U.S. Attorney's Offices for nine federal districts in five states, as well as law enforcement partners at the FBI, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Source: U.S. Department of Justice
view details
US Health Chief Says Overdose Deaths Beginning to Level Off
Oct 23, 2018 - Discusses comments from the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on opioid overdose death rates. While not yet decreasing, preliminary numbers suggest that opioid death rates are increasing at a slower rate, which could be a sign that efforts to address the opioid crisis are beginning to work.
Source: Associated Press
view details
Wages Are Higher in Urban Areas, But Growing Faster in Rural Ones
Oct 23, 2018 - Looks at data related to wages in urban and rural areas across the country. While wages tend to be higher in urban areas, large rural communities, especially those adjacent to urban areas, tend to have high wages as well. Rural communities have also seen significantly faster growth. The smallest and most isolated rural places tended to have the highest wage growth.
Source: City Lab
view details
CMS Model Addresses Opioid Misuse among Expectant and New Mothers
Oct 23, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the Maternal Opioid Misuse (MOM) model, which works to coordinate care of pregnant and postpartum Medicaid beneficiaries with opioid use disorder (OUD). The CMS Innovation Center will execute up to 12 cooperative agreements with states whose Medicaid agencies will implement the model over five years.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
Trump Administration Announces State Relief and Empowerment Waivers to Give States the Flexibility to Lower Premiums and Increase Choices for Their Health Insurance Markets
Oct 22, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have released new guidance for states allowing them to move their insurance markets away from certain rules and regulations in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in an effort to increase choice and competition. States will be able to pursue new State Relief and Empowerment Waivers to make these changes.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
Community Health Workers Can Reduce Hospitalizations by 65 Percent and Double Patient Satisfaction with Primary Care
Oct 22, 2018 - Details the results of a new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. It found that Community Health Workers (CHWs) can help reduce hospital stays by 65% and double the rate of patient satisfaction with primary care.
Source: Penn Medicine News
view details
Public Health in Indian Country Capacity Scan
Oct 19, 2018 - The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) announced the Public Health in Indian Country Capacity Scan (PHICCS), an effort to increase the knowledge of Tribal and federal health leaders and advocates through the creation and dissemination of a national-level, comprehensive profile of the public health system and infrastructure in Indian Country. To support this work, NIHB is requesting 261 Tribal health directors from Tribal health departments/entities representing 573 federally-recognized tribes from 35 states to participate. To learn more and to receive instructions on completing the web-based scan, join the pre-launch webinar on Wednesday, October 31, 2018.
Source: National Indian Health Board
view details
A Rural Colorado Coal County Was Struggling. Then A Tech Company Brought New Jobs
Oct 19, 2018 - Discusses the positive impact of a local company working to expand broadband and hiring laid off coal miners in a rural Colorado town. Not only did it prevent many miners from having to leave the town, it improved the broadband infrastructure of the town, bringing in newcomers and providing more economic opportunity for existing residents.
Source: NPR
view details
Rural Americans Are Now The Largest Slice Of Federal Food Aid Recipients
Oct 18, 2018 - According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, since 2012 rural areas and small towns under 2,500 people have the highest rates of participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Rates used to be higher in urban areas. Nationally, 16% of households in rural areas use SNAP versus 13% in urban areas.
Source: HPPR
view details
Rural Pharmacies Are Closing: Where Does That Leave Patients?
Oct 17, 2018 - Discusses rural pharmacy closures and the wide-reaching impact these closures can have on their communities. Also touches on some of the causes of closures including bigger chain pharmacies and low reimbursement rates.
Source: U.S. News and World Report
view details
Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Care to Address American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Mental Health Disparities
Oct 17, 2018 - Blog post from the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities on the mental health needs of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people as well as the importance of culturally competent assessment and care. Discusses mental health disparities, historical trauma, and discrimination.
Source: National Partnership for Action Blog
view details
As Fertility Rates Fall in U.S., Gap Widens Between Rural and Urban Counties
Oct 17, 2018 - Highlights the results of a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on fertility rates in the U.S. Rural areas have been associated with higher fertility rates and worse birth outcomes than urban or suburban areas. The age at which women first become mothers has risen across the board, but a gap remains between urban and rural areas. In 2017, the average for rural counties was 24.5 years of age and the average for urban was 27.7 years of age.
Source: U.S. News and World Report
view details
The Drive To Quality And Access In Rural Health
Oct 17, 2018 - Focuses on the role quality measurement plays for rural participation in quality improvement initiatives and the relationship between access to care and quality in rural areas. Features the efforts of the National Quality Forum's Measure Applications Partnership Rural Health Workgroup, which recently identified a core set of quality measures to help address the unique needs of rural providers.
Source: Health Affairs Blog
view details
How Fentanyl Changes the Opioid Equation
Oct 17, 2018 - Reports on the growing impact that fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are having on the opioid crisis, challenges in detecting fentanyl, and the dangers it poses due to its lethality and role in overdose outbreaks.
Source: Stateline
view details

Information on this page is also available via RSS feed: rss icon
Learn more about RHIhub's RSS feeds