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.

Report: Hospitals Not Always Best Fit for Rural Communities
Jan 17, 2018 - Discusses a recent study which found that Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) may not be the best format to provide care in rural communities because of low patient volume and high fixed costs. Other models for how this care could be provided can be controversial because of the economic role CAHs play in rural communities. Also touches on alternate models which have been or will be presented to Congress for consideration. (May require registration for full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
view details
A Conversation with Marty Fattig
Jan 16, 2018 - Radio conversation with Marty Fattig, CEO of a Critical Access Hospital in Nebraska, the Chairman of the Rural Health Advisory Commission, and a member of the Critical Access Hospital Advisory Council and the Critical Access Hospital Advisory Board on Quality. Discussion includes electronic health records and the use of technology to improve rural healthcare, the work being done by the Nemaha County Hospital, and the value of small, rural hospitals' flexibility, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
view details
EOP: Supporting Broadband Tower Facilities in Rural America on Federal Properties Managed by the Department of the Interior Federal Register
Jan 12, 2018 - Official memorandum from the Executive Office of the President (EOP) outlining the Administration's intent to use all appropriate and available tools to accelerate the deployment of modern, affordable, and reliable high-speed broadband connectivity in rural America. The memorandum also directs the Secretary of the Interior to develop a plan to support these efforts by increasing access to tower facilities and other infrastructure assets managed by the Department of the Interior (DOI).
Source: Federal Register
view details
CMS Announces New Policy Guidance for States to Test Community Engagement for Able-Bodied Adults
Jan 11, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance for states seeking to test programs through Medicaid demonstration projects under which work or participation in community engagement activities would be a condition for Medicaid eligibility for able-bodied, working-age adults.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
Opioid Crisis Affects All Americans, Rural and Urban
Jan 11, 2018 - Blog post from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discussing the opioid epidemic and its impact in rural areas, including rapidly increasing death rates, infants born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), and the economic costs. Also highlights efforts to address the epidemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Blog
view details
EOP: Streamlining and Expediting Requests To Locate Broadband Facilities in Rural America Federal Register
Jan 11, 2018 - Executive order designed to improve access to broadband internet service in rural America by reducing barriers to capital investment, removing obstacles to broadband services, and more efficiently employing government resources. The order also directs the Administrator of General Services to review and streamline the process for expediting requests to locate broadband facilities on federal property.
Source: Federal Register
view details
Rural Public Health Preparedness Collaborative Inaugural Meeting (January 2018)
Jan 10, 2018 - Details the first meeting of the National Association of County and City Health Officials' (NACCHO) Rural Public Health Preparedness Collaborative. This collaborative was established to connect health departments from rural and frontier communities for networking and collaboration and to inform national preparedness policy and practice.
Source: National Association of County and City Health Officials
view details
CMS Announces New Payment Model to Improve Quality, Coordination, and Cost-effectiveness for Both Inpatient and Outpatient Care
Jan 9, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center announced a new voluntary bundled payment model under which providers can earn additional payment, beyond that for individual services performed, if all expenditures for a beneficiary's episode of care are under a spending target. This Bundled Payments for Care Improvement Advanced (BPCI Advanced) model is intended to support investment in practice innovation and care redesign for improved quality and reduced expenditures. BPCI Advanced will qualify as an Advanced Alternative Payment Model (Advanced APM) under the Quality Payment Program.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
A Conversation with Bill Sexton
Jan 9, 2018 - Radio interview with Bill Sexton, former president of the National Rural Health Association and the Chief Executive Officer of Crossing Rivers Health, a rural hospital in Wisconsin. Discussion includes the development of the Rural Hospital Flexibility Act, the work being done at Crossing Rivers Health including using telemedicine to provide behavioral healthcare, and the work of the Rural Wisconsin Health Collaborative and the Rural Veterans Health Initiative, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
view details
Secretary Perdue Presents Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Task Force Report to President Trump
Jan 8, 2018 - Includes USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue's statement on the Interagency Task Force on Agricultural and Rural Prosperity's Report, which was presented to President Trump at the 2018 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention. Also touches on the key indicators of rural prosperity as identified by this task force: E-Connectivity, Quality of Life, Rural Workforce, Technology, and Economic Development.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
view details
Hospitals In States That Expanded Medicaid Less Likely To Close
Jan 8, 2018 - Highlights a study published in the journal Health Affairs that found that hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid were approximately 6 times less likely to close than hospitals in non-expansion states. The study found that because rural hospitals tend to operate on thinner margins, about half of the rural hospital closures in non-expansion states could have been prevented through expansion.
Source: NPR
view details
Small Hospital Closures Mean Loss of Access to Care
Jan 6, 2018 - Details the complex challenges faced by rural hospitals compared to their urban counterparts and how they contribute to rural hospital closures. These challenges include specific trends in who is typically served by rural and urban hospitals, changes in the way that healthcare is delivered, inherent disadvantages for rural hospitals in the way that data is collected, and economic considerations like rural hospitals having proportionally more fixed costs and greater difficulty with recruitment and retention, among other things.
Source: Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons
view details
Farm Groups Launch ‘Farm Town Strong’ Campaign to Address Rural Opioid Epidemic
Jan 3, 2018 - Announcement from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the National Farmers Union (NFU) about their efforts to address the impact of the opioid epidemic on farmers, farm workers, and farm communities. A recent survey found that less than 50% of rural Americans say that they or their friends or family have been directly impacted by opioid abuse, while 74% of farmers and farm workers say that they or their friends or family have been directly impacted.
Source: Farm Bureau
view details
Justice Department Announces Funding Opportunities for Tribal Communities
Jan 3, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced grants for comprehensive funding to federally-recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments and tribal consortia to support public safety, victim services, and crime prevention. These grants are being offered through nine competitive grant programs, or "purpose areas," from which applicants can select any or all to allow the DOJ to consider the totality of a tribal nation's public safety needs.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice
view details
FCC: Promoting Telehealth in Rural America Federal Register
Jan 3, 2018 - Proposed rule from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking to ensure that rural providers get the support they need, while also guarding against fraud, waste, and abuse. The proposed rule also seeks to mitigate the impact of the existing Rural Health Care (RHC) Program cap, and ensure that the program operates efficiently. The RHC Program, which includes the Healthcare Connect Fund, provides funding to eligible rural providers to improve and/or expand the telecommunications and broadband services necessary for the provision of healthcare. Funding for the RHC Program is currently capped at $400 million annually. Comments regarding the proposed rule must be submitted no later than February 2, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
view details
CMS Launches Data Submission System for Clinicians in the Quality Payment Program
Jan 2, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that participants in the Quality Payment Program (QPP) can begin submitting their 2017 performance data using a new system on the QPP website. A fact sheet on this system is available.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
view details
Moody’s Report First to Measure Social Effects on Health in Every County
Jan 2, 2018 - Highlights the results of a report prepared for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association on the links between social determinants of health and differences in health across communities. The report, Understanding Health Conditions Across the U.S., found that social determinants of health have a greater impact on chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and coronary artery disease, and a lesser impact on conditions like cancer, substance use disorder, and mental health.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
view details
SAMHSA Is Accepting Applications for up to $5.54 Million for the Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant
Dec 29, 2017 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for the Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) Campus Suicide Prevention Grant to develop comprehensive, collaborative, and evidence-based approaches to improving services for all college students, including those at risk for suicide, depression, serious mental illness, and substance use disorders and promoting help-seeking behavior and reducing stigma. These grants, totaling $5.54 million over the next three years, will likely go to 18 grantees.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
view details
CMS Approves First 10-Year Section 1115 Demonstration Extension
Dec 28, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved a demonstration extension for Mississippi's Medicaid program. This extension will extend eligibility for family planning services to people aged 13-44 who are not enrolled in Medicaid, Medicare, or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and with incomes up to 194% of the federal poverty level (FPL). This 10-year extension, the first of its kind, is intended to reduce the burden of the state continually obtaining approvals from CMS.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
Drones Show Potential for Delivering Telemedicine, mHealth Services
Dec 27, 2017 - Around the world, drones have been used to successfully deliver healthcare services in rural, remote, and other inaccessible areas. In the U.S., however, drone usage has been limited due to safety and other regulatory concerns. Drone advocates are now hoping lawmakers will quickly craft appropriate, drone-related legislation that addresses these concerns, but also allows for the expanded use of drones in healthcare delivery applications.
Source: mHealth Intelligence
view details
The Year in Review: Telehealth, mHealth Made Their Mark in 2017
Dec 26, 2017 - Highlights the major legislation, events, and industry changes that impacted mobile health and telehealth during 2017. Includes information about rural-specific impacts and provides links for additional reading on each topic.
Source: mHealth Intelligence
view details
How One Rural North Carolina Hospital Defeated Bankruptcy
Dec 21, 2017 - After several consecutive years of declining revenue, Morehead Memorial Hospital in Eden, North Carolina, heavily indebted and unable to locate a partner, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July 2017. Through a contested bidding process and eventual court ruling, Morehead Memorial was acquired by UNC Health Care. UNC Health Care assumes ownership of Morehead Memorial on January 1, 2018, and is committed to keeping it open for at least five years, while also investing $20 million over the next three years.
Source: North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC
view details
Life Expectancy Drops Again As Opioid Deaths Surge In U.S.
Dec 21, 2017 - For the second year in a row, life expectancy in the United States has dropped, partly as a result of the rise in fatal opioid overdoses. Life expectancy is considered an indicator of the general well-being of a nation, and in the U.S. it has been rising steadily for decades with only occasional exceptions, like in 1993 with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This is the first time since the early 1960s that life expectancy has fallen two years in a row.
Source: NPR
view details
Virtual Internship Program Brings Students Across the Country to IHS
Dec 20, 2017 - Blog post from the Indian Health Service (IHS) about their Virtual Student Federal Service, a virtual internship. Interns spend 10 hours a week working on their projects to enhance IHS' ability to deliver quality care. Some of these projects include producing bilingual Navajo and English videos for Rural Health Clinics, creating a sexual assault locator map for IHS, and creating social media strategies and campaigns for health promotion.
Source: Indian Health Service Blog
view details
USDA Expands Flexibility, Encourages Program Integration in SNAP Administration
Dec 20, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issued national program guidance for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) state operators. This guidance is an attempt to increase flexibility and efficiency while improving customer service.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
view details
Rural Counties at Risk Ahead of Census Count
Dec 20, 2017 - Details concerns about the upcoming census in 2020 and the potential implications of the population in rural counties being undercounted. Because census counts impact federal funding amounts, and because rural areas tend to be more reliant on federal funding for their budgets, rural counties being undercounted could have a significant impact. People in rural areas are less likely to return the mailed census forms and are also less likely to have internet access, which is the primary way the U.S. Census Bureau attempts to reach those who do not return their census forms.
Source: The Hill
view details
FCC Takes Key Step Toward Auction to Expand Rural Broadband Access
Dec 19, 2017 - The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Connect America Fund identified locations lacking high speed internet access and will be distributing up to $2 billion to support the deployment of broadband in these largely rural areas. Companies will compete in auctions to offer the lowest bid for deployment. The auction is set to launch in 2018.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
view details
A Conversation with Sarah Hughes
Dec 19, 2017 - Radio interview with Sarah Hughes, the Housing Navigator for United Healthcare in Nebraska. Discussion includes the work Hughes does to address homelessness, what homelessness looks like in rural Nebraska, and the connection between homelessness and health, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
view details
Healthcare Organizations Voice Worry over End of Net Neutrality
Dec 15, 2017 - Details the recent vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to roll back net neutrality regulations. Some healthcare organizations are concerned about the impact of this vote on telemedicine services and access to healthcare in rural areas.
Source: Health Data Management
view details
FCC Takes Steps to Further Promote Telehealth in Rural America
Dec 14, 2017 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved an Order that waives the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program's annual cap for funding year 2017. It is also seeking comment on the appropriate level of the RHC Program funding cap. The RHC supports access to telehealth services in rural areas and helps rural communities overcome obstacles to accessing healthcare.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
view details
USDA Highlights $40 Million in Infrastructure Investments in Rural Communities
Dec 14, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Community Facilities Direct Loan Program invested $40 million in 31 infrastructure projects in rural communities in 21 states and Puerto Rico. Projects included surface transportation, aviation, ports, water and storm water resources, energy production and generation, and electricity transmission.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
view details
Rural Hospitals Feel the Squeeze as Medicare Extender Funding in Flux
Dec 13, 2017 - Discusses the impact of Medicare extender provisions supporting rural hospitals that expired on September 30, 2017. If Congress doesn't delay cuts to these programs by December 31st, reduced payments for rural hospitals could begin at the start of the year. (May require registration for full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
view details
FCC and National Cancer Institute Champion Critical Role of Broadband in Rural Cancer Care
Dec 12, 2017 - Announces a Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to increase broadband access and adoption in rural areas. The inaugural project, L.A.U.N.C.H. (Linking and Amplifying User-Centered Networks through Connected Health), is a public-private collaboration to improve broadband health connectivity in Appalachia and will target areas with high cancer mortality and low levels of broadband access.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
view details
Native Americans Feel Invisible In U.S. Health Care System
Dec 12, 2017 - Life expectancy for Native Americans is 20 years shorter than the national average. Discusses some potential causes, including the Indian Health Service (IHS) being underfunded, discrimination, high poverty and uninsured rates in Native American communities, limited access to providers, and these various barriers leading people to stop trying to access care.
Source: NPR
view details
A Conversation with Roger Knak
Dec 12, 2017 - Radio interview with Roger Knak, the CEO of Fairview Regional Medical Center, a Critical Access Hospital in Oklahoma. Discussion includes the work the hospital has done to address patient satisfaction and community health needs and the importance of rural health infrastructure, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
view details
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Invests in the Safety, Health of Farmers
Dec 8, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded six new grants to support farmer health and safety. These grants, funded through the Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification (YFSEC) Program and state and regional AgrAbility initiatives, aim to prevent serious injuries and fatalities associated with farming through education and support.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture
view details
Sen. Hatch Pushes Bipartisan Effort to Renew Funding for Rural Counties, Schools
Dec 7, 2017 - Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are leading a bi-partisan group of 32 senators advocating for a re-authorization of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Program to be included in any legislation proposed before the end of the year. The SRS program, which supports public schools, emergency services, and other essential services for more than 775 rural counties, expired in September of this year.
Source: KUTV
view details
Health Risks To Farmworkers Increase As Workforce Ages
Dec 7, 2017 - Discusses the aging farm workforce and factors that may be contributing to this reality. Declining health due to age and years of labor take a toll on farm workers, many of whom do not have private insurance and cannot access Medicaid.
Source: Kaiser Health News
view details
Why Are America's Farmers Killing Themselves in Record Numbers?
Dec 6, 2017 - Discusses the high rates of suicide among people who work in agriculture, focusing on specific people who either committed suicide or dealt with depression, including the author herself, and on Dr. Mike Rosmann, an Iowa farmer, psychologist, and an expert on farmer behavioral health. Touches on contributing factors as well as efforts that have been implemented to combat farmer suicide.
Source: The Guardian
view details
CMS Office of the Actuary Releases 2016 National Health Expenditures
Dec 6, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary has released a study on overall national health spending. The study includes spending growth trends for private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, prescription drugs, and out-of-pocket consumer costs.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
Two-Thirds of Rural Counties Have Fewer Jobs Today Than in 2007
Dec 6, 2017 - According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, rural counties continue to have fewer jobs available than they had before the recession in 2007. 40% of urban counties have fewer jobs than they did in 2007, compared to two-thirds of rural counties. Rural unemployment rates have dropped, but this is because the rural workforce has declined. Includes an interactive map with county-level data.
Source: The Daily Yonder
view details
USDA Promises New SNAP Flexibilities to Promote Self-Sufficiency
Dec 5, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will offer states greater local control over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in an effort to promote self-sufficiency, integrity, and customer service. Specifics on these new flexibilities will be communicated to state agencies in the coming weeks.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
view details
Request for Information (RFI): Soliciting Input for the Tribal Health Research Office (THRO) Strategic Plan (FY 2018-2022)
Dec 4, 2017 - Information request inviting comments and suggestions on the National Institute of Health (NIH) Tribal Health Research Office's (THRO) Strategic Plan. This Strategic Plan focuses on stimulating new research areas, priorities, and approaches to improve the health of tribal communities. Comments will be accepted through January 8, 2018.
Source: National Institutes of Health, Office of Extramural Research
view details
Medical Care Supplement Call for Papers, Health IT to Address Disparities
Dec 2, 2017 - The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) is sponsoring a supplement to the journal Medical Care on "Addressing Health Disparities through the Utilization of Health Information Technology." Research must focus on one or more minority or health disparity populations. Papers must be submitted by February 12, 2018. (Announcement in the right sidebar.)
Source: National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
view details
Rural Hospitals Balk as Insurers Narrow Coverage Sites
Dec 1, 2017 - Focuses on a specific Critical Access Hospital in Indiana to highlight the impact of a change in health insurance policy. Some health insurers no longer pay for outpatient MRI and CT scans unless they are done in free-standing imaging centers, which are typically less expensive. However, because hospitals have to have their imaging machines available at all times for emergencies, sending patients elsewhere can significantly affect their bottom lines, especially for small and rural hospitals. Additionally, this rule may force patients to travel further for care. (May require registration for full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
view details
CMS Finalizes Changes to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model, Cancels Episode Payment Models and Cardiac Rehabilitation Incentive Payment Model
Nov 30, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented changes to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model. CMS also finalized the cancellation of the mandatory hip fracture and cardiac bundled payment models that were to be operated by the CMS Innovation Center. A fact sheet is available.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
CMS Releases Its Measures Under Consideration List for 2018 Pre-Rulemaking
Nov 30, 2017 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announcing that they have released the annual list of quality and cost measures that are under consideration for Medicare quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs. CMS collaborates with the National Quality Forum (NQF) to get input from stakeholders on this list in order to provide more high quality care and achieve better individual outcomes.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Blog
view details
Impact of Childhood Trauma Reaches Rural Wisconsin
Nov 30, 2017 - Focuses on a rural county in Wisconsin where rates of opioid overdoses and hospitalizations are particularly high. This county also has high rates of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Addresses the impact both of these things can have on individuals and communities and how they are exacerbated by limited access to healthcare.
Source: journal sentinel
view details
Opioid Crisis Affects Farmers Harder Than Their Rural Neighbors
Nov 29, 2017 - According to a poll commissioned by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union, almost 75% of U.S. farmers and farm workers report being directly affected by opioid dependence, while the rural population as a whole only reports approximately 45% being directly affected. Farmers and farm workers also were more likely to report that it is easy to access opioids in their community.
Source: Bloomberg
view details
Updated Medicare Part D Opioid Drug Mapping Tool Unveiled
Nov 29, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an updated version of their interactive Medicare opioid prescribing mapping tool. This tool provides geographic comparisons of Medicare Part D opioid prescribing rates and includes county-level hot spots and outliers.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
CDC Report Details Health Disparities Between Rural Minorities
Nov 28, 2017 - Details the results of a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which found that rural communities have become increasingly racially and ethnically diverse in recent years, but that there are significant health disparities between groups.
Source: North Carolina Health News
view details
Industry Voices—the FCC's Rural Health Care Fund Is a Victim of Its Own Success
Nov 27, 2017 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a proposal to increase the $400 million annual cap on the Rural Health Care Fund. Among other things, this proposal would target funding to rural and tribal healthcare providers and prioritize the distribution of grants based on remoteness, type of service requested, whether the funding will come from the Telecom Program or the Healthcare Connect Fund, and the economic need of the provider's population.
Source: FierceHealthcare
view details
Third-World Parasite Plagues the Rural South
Nov 22, 2017 - Highlights the prevalence of hookworm in the rural South, focusing on a specific county in Alabama. Many of these residents cannot afford septic systems, and those who can often have systems that are not conducive to the climate and soil type, pumping sewage back into homes. Details the impact of hookworm disease on health, especially in children, and research happening to better understand the problem and potential solutions.
Source: Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity
view details
CMS Updates Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model for 2019
Nov 22, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced updates to the Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model for 2019 to expand into an additional fifteen states, allow Chronic Condition Special Needs Plans to participate, and allow participants to propose their own systems or methods for identifying eligible enrollees.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
view details
MAP Rural Health Workgroup Final Roster
Nov 22, 2017 - The National Quality Forum's (NQF) Rural Health Workgroup's roster has been finalized. This workgroup was created to advise the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on issues related to measurement challenges in the rural population and to identify rural-relevant measures and gaps in measurement. The Measure Applications Partnership (MAP) Coordinating Committee provides oversight for this workgroup.
Source: National Quality Forum
view details

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