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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.

Jan 23, 2020 - The U.S. Census Bureau announces the release of the Response Rate Challenge toolkit to encourage communities to improve upon their 2010 Census response rate in the upcoming census. Includes promotional and progress-tracking materials, inspiration for friendly competition, and general information on the 2020 Census.
Source: United States Census Bureau
Jan 23, 2020 - The American Hospital Association announced the 2019 recipient of the Rural Health Leadership Award is Cody Regional Health (CRH) in Wyoming. Describes how CRH identified heart disease as the second highest cause of death in their county and built a cardiology clinic to provide high-quality and accessible care and reverse negative health outcomes.
Source: American Hospital Association
Jan 23, 2020 - Summarizes a report that finds three in five Americans feel lonely, identifies a higher rate of loneliness among rural populations. The report explains how the trends shaping the way we work are affecting our mental wellness, includes Cigna's plan of action to combat the rise of loneliness.
Source: Cigna
Jan 23, 2020 - Features the new executive director of the National Center for Frontier Communities (NCFC), a group dedicated to research and advocacy to improve the health of America's frontier. Explains the challenges frontier communities face and how to define "frontier" for the purposes of state and federal funding.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 22, 2020 - Provides an overview of the healthcare system in Maryland, the only state in the U.S. to widely utilize a global hospital budget. Explains how their system could be used as a model for other states, as the budget allows them to focus on "doing the right thing," includes the limitations of implementing a similar program.
Source: Vox
Jan 21, 2020 - Summarizes strategies discussed to address the opioid crisis at the National Association of Counties (NACo) and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Annual Capstone Event. Describes how Appalachian counties can lead the way in solutions, as the region has been widely affected by the opioid epidemic. Includes five recommendations for local action from the NACo-ARC report.
Source: National Association of Counties
Jan 18, 2020 - After a dairy farmer in rural Wisconsin committed suicide, his friends created the Farmer Angel Network to spread awareness and share resources to help other farmers who are dealing with similar mental health issues. The Network holds meetings to help farmers realize they are not alone in the challenges they face.
Source: The Washington Post
Jan 17, 2020 - Features a grocery store in rural Kentucky that recently closed its doors due to a decrease in customers once the coal industry left. Discusses how rural communities across the U.S. are struggling to maintain access to healthy foods, highlights community efforts to reverse the trend.
Source: Ohio Valley Resource
Jan 17, 2020 - Highlights several school-based telehealth programs that are addressing the healthcare needs of students in rural and underprivileged areas. Addresses the challenges of implementing these programs but explains how equal access to healthcare has improved student attendance and learning.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Jan 17, 2020 - Provides an overview of a study that found only two percent of young people who have survived an opioid overdose had access to treatment that could have prevented another overdose from happening. Describes how behavioral health services, addiction treatment, and medically assisted treatment can help young people overcome addiction.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Jan 17, 2020 - South Dakota's Department of Health formed a committee of medical professionals that will meet and discuss how to address the high maternal mortality rate in the state. Describes possible contributing factors to the rising maternal deaths, including the increase in age of new mothers, rising rates of chronic conditions, and lack of access to quality healthcare.
Source: Aberdeen News
Jan 17, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission has released the implementation schedule for newly adopted reforms in the Rural Health Care Promoting Telehealth Report and Order. Changes are intended to promote transparency and the efficient allocation of program resources within the Rural Health Care Program.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 15, 2020 - An independent panel created by the National Institutes of Health recommends additional research in assessing and addressing disparities in access to healthcare in order to prevent disease in underserved patients. The report identifies 26 recommendations for addressing research gaps and how healthcare systems can better implement preventative services.
Source: National Institutes of Health
Jan 15, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the draft 2020-2025 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, which outlines federal health information technology goals regarding patients' access to their health information. HHS is requesting public comments to be submitted by March 18, 2020.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jan 15, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) activated its Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP) to help Puerto Rico residents access prescription medications after the recent earthquakes. Uninsured patients in need of certain medications and medical supplies can access those for free at any of the participating EPAP pharmacies.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jan 14, 2020 - The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator announced the launch of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) initiative. The initiative includes $11 million in challenge grants aimed to support and advance innovation in the transit industry.
Source: Federal Transit Industry
Jan 14, 2020 - The University of Kentucky conducted a study in which Appalachian Kentucky participants took part in a self-care course and focused on reducing risk factors for heart disease, such as weight, cholesterol, or blood pressure. During the process, researchers learned from the residents and adapted their program to fit the cultural needs of the area.
Source: American Heart Association
Jan 14, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman announced initial estimates of how many rural homes and businesses will benefit from Phase I of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Includes a preliminary state-by-state list.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jan 14, 2020 - Discusses the projected decline in the number of physicians in rural areas, a Montana State University professor attributes the drop to minimal career opportunities for spouses, isolation, and lack of entertainment in rural areas. Describes how policy and recruitment programs have attempted to lure physicians to rural areas, but the need is more prominent as health disparities increase.
Source: Managed Care Magazine
Jan 14, 2020 - Summarizes a study whose findings show 32 percent of adult patients have difficulty paying medical bills and accessing healthcare. The study also analyzes hospital prices and quality of care and demonstrates how rural patients are at a further disadvantage accessing care and paying for services.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Jan 10, 2020 - The opioid epidemic has hit rural West Virginia hard, one school created the "life and recovery coach academy" to educate students on administering opioid overdose reversal medications and on how to help those struggling with substance use disorders.
Source: West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Jan 10, 2020 - High-deductible health insurance plans have become commonplace in rural areas, leaving many patients with the inability to pay for care received at rural hospitals. Includes recommendations to counter high-deductible plans in Colorado, such as encouraging primary care services, simplifying billing, and increasing insurance competition in rural areas.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Jan 8, 2020 - Provides an overview of a study suggesting that rural seniors hospitalized for life-threatening conditions are more likely to die within a month of their visit than their urban counterparts. Describes how rural patients were more likely to be discharged to a skilled nursing facility, while urban patients were often discharged to an inpatient rehabilitation facility or to home care.
Source: Reuters
Jan 8, 2020 - A bill intended to improve broadband connectivity in areas with limited access to care has been introduced in the Senate. The Data Mapping to Save Moms' Lives Act will allow for the mapping of areas that lack maternal care and access to internet, with the goal of improving telehealth technology infrastructure in areas with critical maternal healthcare needs. Also discusses other legislation that has been introduced in the previous year to address maternal health.
Source: mHealth Intelligence
Jan 7, 2020 - Highlights legislation that has been introduced in several states across the country to address healthcare workforce shortages with a focus on shortages in rural and underserved communities.
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
Jan 7, 2020 - Grocery stores in rural America are struggling, features two small, independent groceries in North Dakota that are innovating strategies to stay open. Describes how grocery stores bring economic and social value to the local community as well as keep its residents healthy.
Source: Civil Eats
Jan 6, 2020 - Highlights the work of Elizabeth Isele, social innovator and founder of The Global Institute for Experienced Entrepreneurship (GIEE), an organizations whose work is focused on helping rural communities tap into and leverage the experience of aging adults to spur economic development opportunities.
Source: Daily Yonder
Jan 6, 2020 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, Seema Verma, highlighting performance results for the Quality Payment Program's 2018 performance year. Includes accomplishments and efforts underway for rural practices.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Jan 6, 2020 - Presents an overview of a study that suggests fewer than 1 in 10 U.S. primary care providers can prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction. Findings show counties with the highest opioid overdoses saw a climb in physicians able to prescribe the medication, but rural communities did not see as much of an increase as urban communities.
Source: Reuters
Jan 2, 2020 - Addresses the disparity in resources available to homeless populations in urban areas of Texas versus rural areas. Describes how homeless people are often hidden in rural towns, making it more difficult to get an accurate count and provide necessary services.
Source: The Texas Tribune
Dec 31, 2019 - Includes information on free medication-assisted treatment (MAT) training for clinicians and the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (DATA 2000) waiver to treat opioid dependency with buprenorphine. Covers loan repayment programs provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Source: Bureau of Health Workforce
Dec 31, 2019 - The Department of Transportation (DOT) is extending the comment period for a November 27, 2019 notice seeking comments from the public on unmet transportation needs in rural areas to inform their Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success (ROUTES) initiative. The DOT is specifically looking for information on infrastructure needs, barriers to addressing these needs, applicants' experiences with applying for DOT grant and credit programs, and opportunities to improve DOT services and technical assistance to rural communities related to grant and credit programs. Comments are now due on January 27, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Dec 30, 2019 - Video features a family physician in rural Wisconsin who recognized the lack of resources for chronic pain patients who receive opioid prescriptions. She began educating patients on the risks of opioid use, implemented medication treatment agreements, and helped many wean off of their prescriptions in order to curb opioid use in her community.
Source: NPR
Dec 29, 2019 - Describes the importance of an accurate Census count for Native Americans as they have been historically undercounted in previous years. Reservations across the country are campaigning to inspire their community to participate, but still face many barriers to representation.
Dec 26, 2019 - Summarizes findings from the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, describes this year as the worst year for rural hospital closings since 2013. Lists additional findings on the geography of closures and the effect of the closures on local economies.
Source: Health Leaders Media
Dec 26, 2019 - Researchers and community members worked with doctors in South Carolina to create culturally competent palliative care protocols for white and African American communities in the rural South. The training emphasized the differences in cultural values and included visits to historical and culturally relevant sites.
Source: Birmingham Times
Dec 26, 2019 - The National Rural Oral Health Initiative (NROHI) is requesting information on best practices to address rural oral health issues for inclusion in a compendium. Submissions are due by February 27, 2020.
Source: National Rural Health Association
Dec 24, 2019 - A rural town in Kansas lost its hospital one year ago, but physicians stayed in the area and started working at the federally qualified health center (FQHC) to continue caring for residents. Examines how the hospital closure affects the town's healthcare and economy, highlights the steps the community is taking to fill in the gaps.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Dec 23, 2019 - Data collected by the decennial U.S. Census determines the allocation of federal funding and the number of seats each state gets in the House of Representatives. Discusses the importance of an accurate Census count and describes the measures that U.S. Census Bureau workers take to reach homes in rural and remote areas of the country.
Source: United States Census Bureau
Dec 23, 2019 - Summarizes research on long-term ozone and wood smoke exposure and its effect on the lung health of smokers and non-smokers. Former and current smokers were found to be at high risk of chronic lung disease and more susceptible to environmental factors, and rural residents, who are more likely to use wood or coal as a primary heat source, were found to have COPD rates twice that of urban areas.
Source: News Wise
Dec 20, 2019 - Covers the White House Mental Health Summit in which county officials and mental health stakeholders gathered to discuss the prevalence of serious mental illnesses in America. Describes how jails are unequipped to handle the population of inmates that have a mental illness and identifies strategies taken to address the issues.
Source: National Association of Counties
Dec 20, 2019 - The Indian Health Service (IHS) announces eight recipients of the Tribal Self-Governance Planning and Negotiation Cooperative Agreements for 2020. The awards support tribal organizations in preparing to assume responsibility of providing healthcare to their tribal members.
Source: Indian Health Service
Dec 20, 2019 - Congress members James Lankford, Dick Durbin, Adam Kinzinger, and Dave Loebsack introduced the Rural Hospital Relief Act which would update Medicare's Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation. This act allows more rural hospitals to qualify for CAH status, increases their financial support so they can continue offering healthcare services in rural communities.
Source: James Lankford, United States Senator for Oklahoma
Dec 20, 2019 - The only psychiatrist in rural International Falls, Minnesota retired, leaving no psychiatrists for more than 100 miles. Most rural communities are struggling with limited access to mental health services, describes the challenges with recruiting mental health providers in remote areas and how primary care physicians are taking on the work to fill in the gaps.
Source: MPR News
Dec 19, 2019 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced ten states to receive funding under the Maternal Opioid Misuse (MOM) Model and eight cooperative agreements of the Integrated Care for Kids (InCK) Model in seven states. Both models aim to address public health challenges such as the opioid crisis and holistic maternal and child health.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Dec 19, 2019 - Presents findings from an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau county estimates that the poverty rate grew in 30 percent of counties between 2016 and 2018, with the biggest increases in rural and Southern areas. Describes how areas with aging populations and decreasing job opportunities have led to unfavorable economic conditions.
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
Dec 18, 2019 - Opinion piece addresses the issues that rural hospitals are faced with, such as physician shortages, lack of financial stability, and underinsured and aging populations. Describes policies that have been implemented in various states to recruit healthcare workers and help hospitals stay open in rural areas.
Source: National Conference of State Legislators
Dec 18, 2019 - American Indians in Minnesota have the highest opioid overdose death rate among Native Americans in the country. Researchers at the University of Minnesota Duluth medical school and White Earth Nation officials partnered to examine opioid overdoses among American Indians and identify underlying reasons of opiate use and ways to prevent future deaths.
Source: West Central Tribune
Dec 17, 2019 - Summarizes a study that found the number of Americans who have a primary care doctor is decreasing, which can have consequences on their health. The lead researcher attributes this decline to "inconvenience," and describes other contributing factors such as a lack of insurance or the shortage of primary care providers, especially in rural areas.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Dec 17, 2019 - A sheriff's deputy encountered a man exhibiting psychosis and instead of arresting him, rushed him to the hospital where doctors discovered a large brain tumor. Blog article discusses the importance of law enforcement having access to mental health crisis training, includes resources for police-mental health collaborations.
Source: National Conference of State Legislators
Dec 17, 2019 - Features a team of researchers at the University of Georgia who are using computer modeling to address the disparity in cardiovascular health among rural and urban populations. Describes how they will use a model to represent rural communities, leading to a greater understanding and more accurate policy recommendations to improve rural health.
Source: UGA Today
Dec 17, 2019 - Addresses the shortage of grocery stores in rural areas of North Dakota. Researchers and policymakers discuss possible strategies to combat food deserts, such as purchasing wholesale or creating a system where shoppers can purchase groceries online and pick up at food lockers.
Source: Grand Forks Herald
Dec 16, 2019 - U.S. maternal mortality rates are the highest in the developed world and Native American women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. Highlights the women of Indian Country who are training other indigenous women to become doulas and midwives, improving health outcomes for mothers and their children.
Source: Cronkite News
Dec 16, 2019 - The Journal of Behavioral Medicine has issued a call for papers for a special issue on rural behavioral health. Submissions are due by June 1, 2020 and must be submitted on the journal's website.
Source: Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Dec 13, 2019 - Together with Veterans is a suicide prevention program funded by the Veterans Health Administration, Office of Rural Health to provide training and coaching for communities with a high proportion of rural veterans.
Source: Texas Public Radio
Dec 13, 2019 - Discusses a new study analyzing jail populations and reports that while jail populations have been decreasing in urban areas, the number has been climbing in rural areas. Attributes the increase in rural incarceration to the opioid crisis in areas like Appalachia and emphasizes focusing on education, prevention, and treatment in order to decrease the number of inmates. (May require a subscription to view full article).
Source: New York Times
Dec 13, 2019 - Addresses the health disparities in rural areas as data finds rural Americans are at a higher risk of adverse health outcomes. Describes how evidence-based programs can be used to address social determinants of health and decrease the gap between rural and urban populations.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Dec 12, 2019 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announces that January 31, 2020 will mark the opening of the application window for the Reconnect Pilot Program's second round of funding. The additional $550 million will help fund improvements to broadband access in rural communities of America.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Dec 11, 2019 - Farm Bureau, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the National Farmers Union partnered on a program which will offer trainings to those who interact with farmers in order to identify signs of stress and other mental health concerns. Farmers experience higher levels of psychological distress and this program aims to bring mental health resources directly to those who may need them.
Source: American Farm Bureau Federation
Dec 10, 2019 - A Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Colorado hired a new physician to treat patients and train other medical professionals to practice at rural VA hospitals around the country. Describes the Commission Corps Officer program and its intent to address doctor shortages in rural America.
Source: The Daily Sentinel
Dec 10, 2019 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announces its partnership with Walmart to provide healthcare to veterans in five rural communities. Patients will be able to meet with a VA provider in a private room via video technology, services may include primary care, nutrition, mental health, and social work.
Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Dec 10, 2019 - Features successful CEOs in rural healthcare that are combating the challenges faced by rural hospitals. Identifies how collaborations with other facilities, expanding telehealth, and concentrating on the workforce help to maintain the wellbeing of the hospital and the community it serves.
Source: Health Evolution
Dec 9, 2019 - Reminder from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that the 2019 Promoting Interoperability Hardship and Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Exceptions applications are due December 31, 2019.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Dec 9, 2019 - While child mortality rates in the U.S. have decreased, researchers find the improvements were not equal among minorities in rural areas. Includes data outlining the disparities and emphasizes the importance of continuing research to further improve child mortality rates.
Source: Daily Yonder
Dec 9, 2019 - Several states consider ways to boost mental health services for rural and agricultural populations and address the rising suicide rates among farmers. Discusses the different state approaches, such as increasing the number of mental health specialists in rural areas, expanding telehealth, and creating programs that offer counseling vouchers and workshops.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
Dec 9, 2019 - The Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the Family Caregiving Advisory Council are seeking information to be used in the development of a report to Congress, the Family Caregiving Strategy, and public listening sessions being planned for 2020. Information gathered is intended to span the full breadth of the family caregiving experience, including information on caregivers supporting those with long-term care and respite care needs of any age resulting from serious illnesses, conditions, or disabilities, and across all geographic locations. Comments are due by February 7, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Dec 9, 2019 - The Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren are seeking information on best practices and resources for grandparents and older relatives raising children to be used in the development of a report to Congress. Information on the needs of children impacted by the opioid epidemic and special considerations for Native American populations is also being sought. Comments are due by January 31, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Dec 6, 2019 - Short documentary covers the lack of access to mental health services in rural counties. Addresses how rural Americans with a serious mental illness are more likely to encounter police and live without treatment.
Source: The Atlantic
Dec 5, 2019 - A hospital in rural Minnesota partnered with a local insurer to hire a social worker for patients who visit the emergency department (ED) at least three times in a span of four months. The social worker focuses on addressing the mental health and social support needs of ED frequent flyers, decreasing the number of visits and overall cost of care to the hospital.
Source: Health Leaders Media
Dec 5, 2019 - The Indian Health Service (HIS) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Native American Child Health released recommendations on neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) for tribal healthcare facilities. The recommendations aim to provide a standard of care and improve the outcomes of infants at risk of NOWS.
Source: Indian Health Service
Dec 5, 2019 - Discusses the opioid epidemic in the U.S. and analyzes how death from opioid overdoses has changed geographically over the past few decades. Includes data on opioid overdose mortality rates by county and rurality, describes the differences in type of substances in rural areas versus urban areas.
Source: City Lab
Dec 5, 2019 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary released a study on overall national health spending in 2018. Includes growth trends for hospital spending, physician and clinical services spending, and retail prescription drug spending.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Dec 4, 2019 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announces his intent to establish the 5G Fund, in which $9 billion of Universal Service Fund support would go towards deploying 5G wireless service in rural communities. The fund intends to bridge the information gap in rural and urban areas of America.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Dec 4, 2019 - The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy announces a revised version of the Emergency Department Transfer Communication (EDTC) measure which will be used starting with Q1 2020 data collection as part of the Medicare Beneficiary Quality Improvement Program (MBQIP). Includes information on live training sessions to help Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) prepare for and understand the revised specifications.
Source: Stratis Health
Dec 3, 2019 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announces the launch of the Ready, Set, PrEP program to make pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), an HIV prevention medication, free to those without prescription insurance. Includes information on the medication and the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Dec 3, 2019 - Presents an overview of a study that found a link between parents' mental health and their child's weight. When adjusted for factors like food insecurity and physical activity, maternal mental health was found to have more of a correlation to the weight of their child.
Source: Kentucky Health News
Dec 3, 2019 - The December 2019 issue of Health Affairs features articles focusing on different aspects of rural health, including topics like substance abuse, palliative care, access to care, workforce, mortality disparities, and more.
Dec 3, 2019 - The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is seeking public comment to identify topics of public health importance to inform the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) evidence-based recommendations. The CDC will use the information to guide their selection of priority topics for the next five years. Comments are due by January 23, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Dec 2, 2019 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announces the opening of the Rural Tribal Priority Window that will provide eligible Tribes with the opportunity to apply for unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum in their communities. The Rural Tribal Priority Window will be open February 3, 2020 to August 3, 2020.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Dec 2, 2019 - Presents an overview of a survey taken by farmers in 3 counties of rural Wisconsin on how they prefer to receive mental health and agricultural safety information. Results show farmers prefer to receive mental health information from experts, their family members, and friends, and prefer face-to-face communication and newspapers as the method of delivery.
Source: EurekAlert
Dec 2, 2019 - The new Center for Economic Analysis for Rural Health (CEARH), funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health policy, will focus on increasing awareness of the economic benefits of local health systems and their communities. Housed at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, CEARH will be a partnership between the UK and Oklahoma State University with the goal of producing research, response, and solutions to pressing issues facing rural communities.
Source: The Lane Report
Dec 2, 2019 - Executive Order announcing the creation of the Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Task Force will consult with tribal governments to learn more about the scope of the issues around missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives and develop model procedures to apply to unsolved cases.
Source: Federal Register
Nov 30, 2019 - Summarizes a commentary published in the Journal for Rural Health that suggests regionalization of adult healthcare to help save rural hospitals. The authors explain how regionalization could allow hospitals to expand some services and develop specialties to improve patient care.
Source: The Rural Blog

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