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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.

Sep 12, 2019 - Discusses a study published in the Journal of Agromedicine which found that collisions involving farm equipment are the deadliest rural road accidents in New York state. Includes tips for motorists and farmers on how to avoid these accidents.
Source: The Batavian
Sep 12, 2019 - Highlights a partnership between public health professionals and rural firearm owners in Central Oregon to educate communities on gun safety and suicide. The Gun Shop Project was created to focus on preventing suicide and align members on both sides of the gun debate.
Source: KGW8
Sep 12, 2019 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is hosting a free Virtual Job Fair Wednesday, October 16, 2019 from 6:45 p.m. – 10:15 p.m. Eastern. This event is held to connect job-seeking primary care trainees and clinicians with healthcare sites.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
Sep 11, 2019 - Discusses a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine that found a decrease in the number of Vermont children being seen by their family physicians due to workforce shortages and an increase in adult primary care demand. Analyzes differences in rural and urban populations as well as other child demographics.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
Sep 11, 2019 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $50 million in funding for Health Center Program New Access Points in 23 states, Puerto Rico, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Funds can be used to create new organizations or for existing health centers to create new delivery sites.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Sep 10, 2019 - Describes how Memorial Healthcare in Owosso, Michigan survived independently and fostered success by specializing in neurology and improving the quality of existing services. The hospital plans to build a new outpatient center to streamline patient care and centralize the neurology department. (Subscription may be required to view article).
Source: Modern Healthcare
Sep 10, 2019 - Five-year study highlights the positive effects of hula on the heart health of Native Hawaiians. Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, findings aim to demonstrate the importance of cultural relevance in health interventions.
Source: University of Hawaii News
Sep 10, 2019 - Speech delivered by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator, Seema Verma, at the American Hospital Association Regional Policy Board Meeting discusses the current administration's plan to tackle issues within the healthcare system. Initiatives featured aim to deliver lower cost high-quality care and address the closing of hospitals in rural areas, among other things.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Sep 10, 2019 - Organizations in Missouri, New Mexico, and Texas received just under $9 million from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to launch the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) program with the goal of identifying strategies to advance maternal healthcare.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Sep 9, 2019 - Representatives Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) have introduced the Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services (MOMS) Act. The bill aims to address maternal mortality rates and increase healthcare access for expecting mothers in rural areas.
Source: Office of Congressman Dan Newhouse
Sep 9, 2019 - Highlights the increase of reported sexually transmitted diseases in Kansas, with rural Wyandotte and Finney counties reporting the highest in the state. According to Kansas Department of Health and the Environment Secretary Lee Norman, drug use and the lack of sexual education classes are reported to contribute to the rise in cases.
Source: KCUR
Sep 9, 2019 - The opioid epidemic has impacted Native American populations at a higher rate than any other racial and ethnic group in the United States. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma has seen an increase in the number of children in foster care, many of which are placed with non-Native families because there aren't enough within the Tribe to fulfill the need. Discusses challenges this creates for children growing up away from the culture they are most familiar with.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
Sep 7, 2019 - Interview with Maria Ryan, CEO of Cottage Hospital, a Critical Access Hospital in Woodsville, New Hampshire, discussing how they have found success while other rural hospitals are facing financial challenges. (Subscription may be required to view article).
Source: Modern Healthcare
Sep 6, 2019 - According to a study published in JAMA Network Open, suicide rates for those age 25-64 have risen 41% from 1999-2016, and the rate among rural residents is 25% higher than those living in metropolitan areas.
Source: NBC News
Sep 5, 2019 - Describes the ways in which rural Klamath County, Oregon used GIS mapping to identify health challenges in the community and develop plans to address them, including the development of protected bike lanes to encourage active behavior and mapping the distance of tobacco retailers from schools to make the case for stronger youth tobacco prevention policies.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Sep 5, 2019 - Statement from President Trump detailing his efforts to end the opioid epidemic, including those targeted at stopping illicit drug suppliers, preventing prescription opioid abuse, and expanding access to substance abuse treatment services.
Source: The White House
Sep 5, 2019 - The Rural America Health Corps Act, legislation recently introduced and co-sponsored by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, is built upon the National Health Service Corp model and would create a 5-year student loan forgiveness program for students who commit to serving in a rural community.
Source: WSIU Public Broadcasting (IL)
Sep 4, 2019 - Announcement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that more than $1.8 billion has been awarded to states to combat the opioid epidemic through programs under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Sep 4, 2019 - A National Institutes of Health-funded study highlights the impact of hospital emergency department closures and new openings on health outcomes for heart attack patients, including for those living in rural areas.
Source: National Institute of Health
Sep 3, 2019 - The National Institutes of Health is requesting comments on concerns and challenges that were heard during a series of Tribal Consultation meetings regarding the All of Us research program, which is designed to collect data from over 1 million people in the U.S. to inform health research efforts. Comments are due by October 31, 2019.
Source: National Institutes of Health
Sep 3, 2019 - Interview with Andy Gienapp, Wyoming's State EMS Manager, discussing the high cost of operating ambulance services in rural areas and the need for research on how to best overhaul the way emergency services operate in rural communities.
Source: The Takeaway, New York Public Radio
Sep 3, 2019 - Residents of the western side of Franklin County, MA have few choices when it comes to primary care. There are only two physicians in the area and neither is accepting new patients. While nurse practitioners have helped to shorten the wait-time for patients, recruiting new physicians has been difficult and the remaining physicians say their practices are struggling financially. Highlights efforts underway to help address the problem.
Source: Daily Hampshire Gazette
Sep 3, 2019 - September is Suicide Prevention Month and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is highlighting resources to help veterans and their family members who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Sep 3, 2019 - A recent study published in Health Affairs examined whether offering discounts on the purchase of fresh fruit and vegetables increased buyer behavior for rural low-income populations in Maine.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
Sep 3, 2019 - The National Indian Health Board and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working together to increase the capacity of Tribal communities to identify and address elevated blood lead levels in children. Interviews with Tribal Health Directors and other program staff will be conducted to gain insight into their programs and plans for blood lead level testing and their current knowledge of risk factors for lead exposure. Responses will inform a final report that the CDC will use to identify gaps and barriers to blood lead level testing. Tribes interested in participating in this initiative should contact Stephen Valliere by 5:00 p.m. Eastern on September 13th.
Source: National Indian Health Board
Aug 30, 2019 - The Health Resources and Services Administration has updated all automatically designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (Auto-HPSAs) scores and provided instructions for the submission of facility-specific and supplemental data to be rescored.
Source: Bureau of Health Workforce
Aug 30, 2019 - Highlights a study recently published in The Journal of Rural Health that examined the connection between patient demographic information, like geographic location and poverty, and diagnosis of late-stage colorectal cancer.
Source: The Rural Blog
Aug 30, 2019 - Announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of awards for the Federally-Facilitated Exchange Navigator program. Grantees will provide assistance to those seeking information about, and to those enrolling in healthcare coverage on the Federal Health Insurance Exchange during the 2020 open enrollment period of November 1 - December 15, 2019.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Aug 29, 2019 - Discusses a report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) on organizational challenges within the Indian Health Service (IHS). While the OIG did not make any formal recommendations in the report, it did highlight that the IHS should look closely at organizational structure and continue to implement their 5-year improvement plan to address issues with tracking hospital performance, improve quality of care, and provide more consistent leadership and policy implementation practices.
Source: Associated Press
Aug 28, 2019 - While much of the attention in Kentucky and across the country has been on the opioid epidemic, meth has made a comeback in the rural community of Pikeville. According to the Kentucky State Police, in 2018 meth accounted for more arrests in the state than all other drugs, aside from fentanyl.
Source: Lexington Herald Leader
Aug 27, 2019 - Provides an overview state legislation from across the country to address the issue of hospital closures, including options to increase technical assistance to support rural facilities, new value-based payment models, new licensure options that serve rural populations, and more.
Source: Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
Aug 27, 2019 - Discusses the impact of hospital closure on obstetrics outcomes in rural areas with a focus on Providence Valdez Medical Center in Valdez, AK and highlights the importance of having family physicians that are qualified to provide high quality maternity care.
Source: U.S. News and World Report
Aug 27, 2019 - Discusses at length the devastating impact hospital closures in Tennessee with a special focus on Jamestown Regional Hospital. Includes a 23-minute video discussing the trickle down impact of the closure on the community, including increased pressure on emergency medical services and first responders, declining school enrollment, and poor health outcomes.
Source: News Channel 5: Nashville
Aug 27, 2019 - Highlights the way in which much of the Amish population of Holmes County, Ohio pays for healthcare services, through contributions to a community aid plan rather than by participating in Medicare, Medicaid, or other more traditional health insurance options. Everyone contributes to the aid plan and medical bills are paid for members of the church and surrounding churches. Because payment is made very quickly, they are often able to negotiate discounts for services.
Source: WOSU Public Media
Aug 26, 2019 - Utah has one of the highest rates death by suicide in the U.S. and a high rate of gun ownership. When those two factors collide you get a population with lethal access to lethal means, resulting in 85% of firearm deaths being suicides. And the rate in rural parts of the state is higher than in urban areas. The staff at Northeastern Counseling are trying to address the problem by distributing suicide prevention materials and resources, including gun locks and water-resistant gun socks with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline number printed on them, at local gun shows.
Source: KEUR 90.1, NPR Utah
Aug 23, 2019 - Provides a synopsis of a Shelterforce article on the issue of poverty and highlights 4 myths about poverty in rural communities.
Source: Nonprofit Quarterly
Aug 23, 2019 - The Bipartisan Policy Center's Rural Health Task Force is seeking comments and suggestions by September 7, 2019 on the development of policy recommendations to address challenges for rural populations in accessing healthcare. Recommendations should focus on supporting the current rural healthcare system, addressing barriers and opportunities for participation in new service delivery models, and building on successful health workforce and graduate medical education proposals.
Source: Bipartisan Policy Center
Aug 22, 2019 - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is proposing changes to patient confidentiality regulations governing records created by federally-assisted substance use disorder treatment programs. A proposed rule supports care coordination for substance use treatment while protecting patient records and is intended to help address issues highlighted by the opioid crisis.
Source: HHS Press Office
Aug 22, 2019 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) seeks public input regarding how to measure access to rural healthcare. Questions for public comment cover core rural health services, ratios of healthcare providers, methods of measuring care access and care quality, and other factors to consider. Comments are due October 9, 2019.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
Aug 21, 2019 - A pilot program in North Carolina uses telehealth to help increase access to opioid addiction treatment in rural areas. After an initial in-person appointment, participants can schedule online visits for follow-up, helping address transportation challenges and stigma.
Source: WECT
Aug 20, 2019 - Announces the release of 2018 data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Detailed Tables include mental health and substance abuse data by Rural-Urban Continuum Codes (RUCCs).
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Aug 20, 2019 - This year, the annual Public-Private Collaborations in Rural Health meeting focused on social determinants of health. Faith Mitchell, President and CEO of Grantmakers in Health, shares some of her insights from the event.
Source: Grant Makers in Health
Aug 20, 2019 - Guest column by Anne Hazlett, senior rural affairs advisor in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, about addressing drug addiction in the rural U.S. Includes examples of partnerships with local leaders and faith communities and federal funding to help prevent and address substance abuse.
Source: Knox News
Aug 20, 2019 - EmpowerHMS oversaw 18 rural hospitals across 8 states - until the company was sued for fraudulent lab billings. Now many of those hospitals are facing bankruptcy and closure, leaving employees without jobs and communities without emergency care.
Source: California Healthline
Aug 19, 2019 - The U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women is seeking recommendations for members to serve on the Task Force on Research on Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women. Nominations are due by September 13, 2019 and can be submitted via email to or by mail to Laura L. Rogers, Acting Director, Office on Violence Again Women, U.S. Department of Justice, 145 N Street NE, Washington, DC 20530. Self-recommendations will not be accepted.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 19, 2019 - The Association of American Indian Physicians and United Healthcare are encouraging more American Indians and Alaska Natives to apply for medical school. Currently, 90% of medical schools have 3 or less native students and physician vacancy rates in tribal systems reach nearly 30% in some areas. For details, see the white paper, Expanding the Native American Health Care Workforce.
Source: WUSF Public Media
Aug 19, 2019 - While rural Fort Scott, Kansas found another hospital to reopen its ER for 2 years after its hospital closed, an 18-day ER remodel left 80 patients to travel more than 1,300 miles for care. The county took over emergency medical services, but is not sure how they will afford ambulance upkeep and relies on air ambulances for time-sensitive emergencies. Part 3 of the "No Mercy" series addressing the impact of a hospital closure on a rural community.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Aug 16, 2019 - A study of physician burnout found that family physicians in rural areas had lower burnout rates; part of the reason may be a larger scope of practice. The study compares burnout rates by gender, age, geographic location, and whether physicians practice obstetrics with deliveries. The study results may provide insights to help recruit physicians to rural practice.
Source: AAFP
Aug 16, 2019 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced a new funding opportunity for The Rural Health Network Development Program, which will support up to 46 applicants representing a network of at least 3 rural entities. Previous networks funded under this program have addressed chronic disease management, care coordination, telehealth, behavioral health, and other issues impacting rural communities.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
Aug 16, 2019 - Notice of final rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to revise the Medicare hospital inpatient prospective payment systems (IPPS) for capital and operating costs of acute care hospitals, make changes to Medicare graduate medical education (GME) for teaching hospitals and payments to Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs). Also provides the market basket updated that applies to the rate-of-increase limits for certain hospitals excluded from the IPPS that are paid on a reasonable cost basis and updates payment policies and rates for the Medicare prospective payment system (PPS) for inpatient hospital services provided by long-term care hospitals for FY 2020, among other things. This rule is effective on October 1, 2019.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 15, 2019 - Recruitment is essential to rural hospitals. Time off for medical sabbaticals and hiring part-time, semi-retired physicians are some of the successful strategies used in rural Idaho and Kansas communities.
Source: National Public Radio
Aug 15, 2019 - Summarizes the challenges facing rural maternity care and contributing factors, as well as possible solutions. Fewer than half of rural counties have hospitals with obstetric units, contributing to a higher rate of births outside hospitals, early elective deliveries, and pregnancy-related deaths.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund
Aug 14, 2019 - In rural Maine, Hibbard Nursing Home has no open beds. Nursing home closures and a shortage of healthcare workers have many family members caring for their aging parents across the state, a problem which other states may soon face due to the nation's aging population. (May require subscription to view).
Source: The Washington Post
Aug 14, 2019 - While large disasters garner national attention and funding, more frequently small disasters and rural areas are being denied individual assistance. Tornadoes, wildfires, flooding, and mudslides affected many rural communities without qualifying individuals for FEMA assistance, emphasizing the importance of grassroots responses and emergency preparedness.
Source: The Sun Times
Aug 14, 2019 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) released 3 funding opportunities to address HIV/AIDS in relation to the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, which includes 7 states with a high rate of HIV in rural areas. The first opportunity focuses on reducing new HIV infections, the second will fund a technical assistance provider for grantees, and the third will fund an organization to coordinate grantees' work with existing HIV care delivery systems.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
Aug 14, 2019 - While a larger share of households without access to broadband live in rural areas, broadband adoption is an issue in both rural and urban areas. For those who have not adopted broadband, affordability is the biggest factor.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Aug 14, 2019 - Notice from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) of a proposed rule. Rural specific provisions include: proposing to allow opioid treatment programs (OTPs) to use Medicare telehealth for substance abuse counseling; requesting information on rural access to opioid use disorder treatment; updates to several payment codes for Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers; proposed revisions to physician supervision of physician assistants to better align with state laws; a proposed Medicare ground ambulance data collection system that would include information on types of services provided in rural areas; proposed revisions to certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) to align pre-surgery evaluation and pre-discharge standards; request for feedback on small and rural practices participating in MVPs; a proposed update to the MIPS rural area definition correcting the file name; and requesting comments on Promoting Interoperability performance measures related to OUD prevention and treatment that would be applicable to clinicians in rural areas. Comments are due September 27, 2019.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 12, 2019 - In rural Austin, Indiana, the high school is reinventing their role to help address the impact of the town's HIV outbreak. They were awarded a joint grant to develop a curriculum for homeroom periods, to help support the social-emotional needs of students.
Source: Chalkbeat
Aug 12, 2019 - Discusses the importance of the 2020 Census for rural areas, potential barriers to participation, and ways to encourage participation based on research findings. As part of a research network, the University of Mississippi Center for Population Studies identified communities likely to have lower census participation and held workshops with local stakeholders.
Source: The Conversation
Aug 9, 2019 - In the past 12 months Connecticut, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and Michigan have passed laws allowing dental therapists to practice in a role similar to physician assistants in medicine. A total of 12 states now authorize dental therapy in some capacity.
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
Aug 9, 2019 - Notice of a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revising payments for the Medicare hospital outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) and Medicare ambulatory surgical center (ASC) payment system and updating quality reporting requirements. Also proposes requirements for making hospital standard charges public and other revisions and requests comments on remedying litigation related to 340B drugs. Rural specific items include: proposed adjustments for Rural Sole Community Hospitals (SCHs) and Essential Community Hospitals (EACHs), minimum supervision requirements for Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), a proposed wage index update, continued rural hospital payment adjustments, and an increase in the OPD fee schedule. Comments on the proposed rule are due September 27, 2019.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 8, 2019 - A new study found that rural and nonrural dentists prescribe about the same number of opioid pills, but rural dentists do so more often in combination with ibuprofen or acetaminophen and at lower dosages. Rural dentists are also more likely to suspect patients of drug abuse and to avoid prescribing opioids to them for that reason.
Source: Kentucky Health News
Aug 8, 2019 - Announcement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Health Resources and Services Administration that nearly $400 million has been awarded to organizations across the country to help combat the opioid crisis. This includes over $200 million for health centers through the Integrated Behavioral Health Services Program (IBHS), over $111 million through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), almost $70 million through the Opioid Workforce Expansion Programs for Professionals and Paraprofessionals, and $17 million through the Graduate Psychology Education program.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Aug 8, 2019 - Adult obesity rates in Colorado are much higher among minorities than among whites. Residents of Lake County are promoting exercise and healthy eating for children and adults, through programs such as a community garden and initiatives geared toward public school students. Includes a state-level map showing rates of obesity as of 2017.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Aug 8, 2019 - The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is seeking articles for a special issue on "Growing Up in Rural America: How Place Shapes Education, Health, Family and Economic Outcomes." Of particular interest are qualitative and quantitative research articles that focus on four key life domains: family dynamics, education, economic security, and health. Abstracts must be submitted by September 26, 2019.
Source: Russell Sage Foundation
Aug 7, 2019 - Discusses the issue of social isolation for residents of rural communities. Highlights a program in rural Minnesota that pairs children with seniors in the community to foster relationships and help create a more connected community.
Source: National Public Radio
Aug 7, 2019 - The Health Resources and Services (HRSA) requests comments on a revised information collection related to a May 9, 2019 comment request for the 340B Drug Pricing Program. In this notice, HRSA has responded by revising the draft instruments based on technical comments received. Comments on these revisions are due September 6, 2019.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 7, 2019 - Notice of a final rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), updating the payment rates used under the prospective payment system (PPS) for skilled nursing facilities (SNF). Also revises the definition of group therapy under the SNF PPS, and implements a process for updating the code lists used. This rule is effective on October 1, 2019.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 6, 2019 - Press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding their recent report that found that while there has been an overall increase in the number of naloxone prescriptions across the country, rural counties have a much lower rate of prescriptions than metropolitan counties.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Aug 6, 2019 - Highlights the results of a recent study on access to plumped water and sewer systems across the U.S with a particular focus on "plumbing poverty," which is defined as the lack of either hot and cold running water, a flush toilet, or an indoor bathtub or shower.
Source: City Lab
Aug 6, 2019 - The Health Resources and Services Administration announces a public meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services (NACRHHS) on September 9-11, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Agenda items will be centered around the current delivery of healthcare and human services in rural areas.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 6, 2019 - Notice of a final rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), updating the hospice wage index, payment rates, and cap amount. The rule also rebases the continuous home care, general inpatient care, and respite care per diem rates to more accurately align Medicare payments with the costs of providing care. The rule is effective October 1, 2019.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 6, 2019 - Notice of a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) making changes related to End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) payments and Quality Incentive Program (QIP) requirements and updates to the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) payments, bidding, and ordering requirements. The proposed rule also requests information on changing the basis for the ESRD PPS wage index and other areas. Rural specific components include: an explanation of methodology for calculating rural and urban area wage indexes, summaries of comments related to rural ESRD facility costs, the number of rural ESRD and renal dialysis facilities and effects of 2020 proposed changes, and expected QIP impact on rural facilities. Comments on the proposed rule are due September 27, 2019.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 5, 2019 - Fayette County, Indiana has the highest suicide and overdose death rates in the state and a drug overdose rate 5 times higher than the national average. Article describes the efforts of End Stigma, a local group dedicated to addressing the stigma related to substance abuse and mental health issues.
Aug 5, 2019 - HIV treatment providers in the South describe an overwhelming load of patients because of the lack of new colleagues entering the field. The retirement of older practitioners and the fact that fewer are entering the specialty has resulted in difficulty recruiting and retaining practitioners.
Source: Stateline
Aug 5, 2019 - The National Association of Counties (NACo) and County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Rural Impact County Challenge Action Learning Cohort will examine affordable housing and its impact on health equity in rural areas. Activities are designed to help communities understand their problems and areas of opportunities, and to develop strategies to address them. Applications are due August 15.
Source: National Association of Counties
Aug 2, 2019 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services finalized policy changes to help deliver improved care and outcomes to patients at a better value. The final rule updates Medicare payment policies for hospitals and addresses wage index disparities by increasing the wage index for facilities, including rural hospitals, and ensures that rural Americans will have access to care.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Aug 2, 2019 - A new study by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics shows varied victim and drug patterns in urban and rural areas, but similar trends in rising death rates. Death rates were higher in urban areas for most age groups, with the highest rate among people ages 25-44 in both rural and urban areas.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Aug 2, 2019 - Provides a state-by-state list showing the county having the worst drug problems, with statistics on population, poverty rate, number of drug-related deaths from 2013-17, and annual drug deaths per 100,000 residents.
Source: USA Today
Aug 1, 2019 - The Federal Communications Commission has released a Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that recognizes the immediate need for more granular data collection to inform the mapping of broadband availability. An official comment request on the proposed rule will be announced in the Federal Register at a later date.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Aug 1, 2019 - The Federal Communications Commission has announced plans to initiate reforms to the Rural Health Care Program and promote telehealth by ensuring that program funds are disbursed efficiently and equitably, and strengthening safeguards against waste, fraud, and abuse. Plans include targeting funding to rural areas in the most need of healthcare services.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jul 31, 2019 - Reports on a study published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, showing that rural areas have lower rates of HIV testing and diagnosis than urban areas.
Source: Infectious Disease Advisor
Jul 31, 2019 - Reports on a study conducted by the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis, in which researchers examined whether competition within an insurance market affected individuals' decisions to buy health insurance. Includes a county-level map showing number of ACA marketplace insurers as of 2019, with breakdowns by metro and nonmetro locations.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jul 29, 2019 - A new study shows that people in counties with poor broadband access are less likely to be treated via telemedicine. The researchers recommend prioritizing entirely rural counties for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadband funding to increase rural telemedicine access.
Source: U.S. News and World Report
Jul 25, 2019 - Rural Health Innovations launched a new Network Sustainability Toolkit to help rural leaders sustain their networks and increase their impact. The toolkit includes resources for network assessment, resources to help network leaders develop their skills, and examples of rural health networks.
Source: National Rural Health Resource Center
Jul 24, 2019 - The Farmer Stress Hotline in South Dakota began in February, in response to farming economic and climate challenges. Farmers face many struggles to keep their farms and are at increased risk for suicide, as they often don't have insurance covering mental health and often live far from mental health providers.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jul 22, 2019 - A new white paper on telehealth found that private insurance claims for non-hospital-based provider-to-patient telehealth grew nearly 900% in rural areas, and nearly 1,400% overall. The paper also addressed other types of telehealth, such as provider-to-provider telehealth, the demographics of telehealth users, and reasons for seeking treatment.
Source: EurekAlert!
Jul 22, 2019 - The Cherokee Indian Hospital reflects the Cherokee culture and serves as a medical home for the tribe. The tribe had success opting for self-governance and out of the Indian Health Service program, but whether other tribes can do as well is less certain.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Jul 22, 2019 - In rural Tennessee, volunteer nurses are offering 6-week seminars to patients with Type 2 diabetes to help them make lifestyle changes for controlling their blood sugar. So far their faith-based mission is helping participants reduce their blood sugar levels through diet and exercise.
Source: National Public Radio
Jul 22, 2019 - Two recent reports from the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) identify major problems with Indian Health Services (IHS). One study found that 20% of IHS hospitals did not comply with opioid prescribing and dispensing procedures and policies. Another study put an IHS hospital in South Dakota on track for terminating Medicaid and Medicare payments due to not sustaining improvements after a closure for quality and safety issues. (Subscription may be required to view article).
Source: Modern Healthcare
Jul 18, 2019 - Today, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $20 million in grants to develop new rural residency programs as part of the Rural Residency Planning and Development Program (RRPD). The grant recipients span 21 states and will develop rural residency programs for family medicine, internal medicine, and psychiatry to help improve the number of healthcare providers serving rural communities.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jul 17, 2019 - Rural communities in several states with the highest per capita rate of opioid overdose deaths also had the highest portion of pain pills distributed by major drug companies, a new analysis from The Washington Post shows. West Virginia, Virginia, and Kentucky along the Appalachian Mountains were hit particularly hard. (Subscription may be required to view article).
Source: The Washington Post
Jul 17, 2019 - In the midst of rural hospital closures, some communities are collaborating to keep their hospitals open and even expand. A rural community in Alabama kept Lakeland Community Hospital open by taking ownership and increasing taxes. Kalispell Regional Healthcare opened a pediatric floor in Montana and McKenzie County Hospital in North Dakota just celebrated its first anniversary.
Source: U.S. News and World Report

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