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

IHS and Boys & Girls Clubs Partner to Expand Services to Native Youth
Jun 22, 2017 - Blog post from the Indian Health Service (IHS) about their collaboration with Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Native Services. Together, they aim to discourage risky behaviors among American Indian and Alaska Native youth using early intervention strategies with a particular focus on methamphetamine use and suicide.
Source: Indian Health Service Blog
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SAMHSA Announces $44.6 Million in Grants to Expand the Behavioral Healthcare Workforce
Jun 21, 2017 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced funding of up to $44.6 million to develop the healthcare workforce to treat substance use disorders and support recovery. Grantees for the Addiction Technology Transfer Centers Cooperative Agreements will establish a network to collaborate with SAMHSA and with each other to improve treatment and recovery nationwide.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Public Inspection: CMS: Medicare Program: CY 2018 Updates to the Quality Payment Program Federal Register
Jun 21, 2017 - Pre-publication proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) which, among other things, would expand Quality Payment Program (QPP) exemptions and implement virtual group provisions for small and rural providers. The proposed rule would also ease electronic health record (EHR) requirements for certain providers as they transition from 2014 certified EHRs to 2015 certified EHRs. Comments regarding provisions of the proposed rule must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. Eastern on August 21, 2017, and final publication in the Federal Register is scheduled for June 30, 2017. Additional information is available on the CMS proposed rule fact sheet.
Source: Federal Register
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Telepharmacy Reduces Rural Care Disparities for Diabetics
Jun 20, 2017 - A new study has found that the use of a telepharmacy team of pharmacists, dieticians, and primacy care providers had similar rates of improvement in patient glycemic control as patients who were seen in person. 92% of the patients involved said that they were "very satisfied" with the care they received and 83% said that it had been easier to get care.
Source: mHealthIntelligence
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SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) Highlights the New Learning Center
Jun 20, 2017 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has launched a Learning Center for the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) website. This Learning Center provides tools and resources to help behavioral health practitioners build effective, evidence-based or culture-based programs and explore emerging practices and programs.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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CMS Proposes Quality Payment Program Updates to Increase Flexibility and Reduce Burdens
Jun 20, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a rule that would make changes in the second year of the Quality Payment Program, updated annually as a part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). These changes, aimed at ensuring fiscal sustainability and simplifying the program for small, independent, and rural practices, encourage participation in either the Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs) or the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), among other things.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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New AHRQ Report Shows Sharp Rise Among Women for Opioid-Related Hospital Stays
Jun 20, 2017 - The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released a report on the most current national rates on opioid-related hospitalizations and emergency department visits by state. Opioid-related hospitalizations increased 55% for men and 75% for women from 2005 to 2014.
Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
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Interactive Medical Drones: No Longer Science Fiction
Jun 16, 2017 - Highlights efforts in Mississippi to incorporate drones into emergency medical response systems. In this project, drones would bring medical supplies and audiovisual equipment to rural people in need of care in the aftermath of large storms and tornadoes which may have knocked down trees or blocked roads in other ways. Touches on some of the challenges as well as the potential of this project.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
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State Attorneys General Probe Opioid Drug Companies
Jun 15, 2017 - State Attorneys General from what is described as a majority of states have joined a bi-partisan coalition to investigate the marketing and sales practices of drug companies that manufacture opioid painkillers. They did not announce which companies were under investigation.
Source: Reuters
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Secretary Perdue Hosts Inaugural Rural Prosperity Task Force Meeting
Jun 15, 2017 - Details the first meeting of the Inaugural Rural Prosperity Task Force, headed by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Attendees discussed their plans to develop a method of interagency cooperative to achieve their goal of improving the quality of life for people in rural areas. Includes a video of the meeting.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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Medicare Payment Advisory Commission Releases Report on Medicare and the Health Care Delivery System
Jun 15, 2017 - The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has released its June 2017 Report to the Congress: Medicare and the Health Care Delivery System. Topics covered include implementing a unified payment system for post-acute care (PAC), reforming Medicare payment for drugs under Part B, Redesigning the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and strengthening advanced alternative payment models (A-APMs), stand-alone emergency departments, and hospital and skilled nursing facility use by Medicare beneficiaries who reside in nursing facilities (NFs), among other things.
Source: Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
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Long After ’80s Farm Crisis, Farm Workers Still Take Own Lives at High Rate
Jun 14, 2017 - According to a new study from the University of Iowa, farmer suicide rates are significantly higher than those of any other occupation. In the 1980s, more than 1,000 farmers committed suicide as a result of losing their farms to foreclosure. Though rates have gone down since that time, they are still worryingly high due to a number of stressors including physical isolation, physical pain, lack of access to healthcare, especially mental health care, the stigma attached to seeking out mental healthcare, and financial stress.
Source: Iowa Now
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America’s New Tobacco Crisis: The Rich Stopped Smoking, the Poor Didn't
Jun 13, 2017 - Despite steady declines in smoking rates nationally, large percentages of people who are poor, less educated, or who live in rural areas continue to smoke. Rural residents are diagnosed with lung cancer at rates 18%-20% higher than their urban counterparts and yet often have reduced access to healthcare and cessation programs. Meanwhile, tobacco companies have invested in lobbying against smoking restrictions and taxes in poorer, rural, and often Southern states where smoking rates are highest. (May require subscription to view full article.)
Source: The Washington Post
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Panels Examine Bills to Improve Critical Tribal Health Care and Housing Programs
Jun 13, 2017 - The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs convened a legislative hearing on three bills. The Restoring Accountability in the Indian Health Service Act of 2017 would provide system-wide reform to the Indian Health Service (IHS) in an effort to ensure access to reliable, quality healthcare. The Building Useful Initiatives for Indian Land Development (BUIILD) Act and the Tribal HUD-VASH Act would reauthorize housing programs that address the homelessness and under-housing of tribal citizens and veterans, respectively.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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HHS Awards $72.5 Million in Funding for Youth Mental Health Services
Jun 13, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded $72.5 million to seven states and one local government agency through its Expansion and Sustainability of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbances Program, also known as the Children's Mental Health Initiative. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will distribute the funding to Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and a county in Maryland.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Fighting AIDS in the Deep South: Glimmers of Hope
Jun 13, 2017 - Details the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the South, especially among African-Americans and people who live in rural areas. These high rates are attributed to social factors including poverty, racism, persistent anti-gay attitudes, unstable housing, decreased access to transportation and medical care, and lower rates of funding. Also highlights a telemedicine program working to provide much-needed care.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
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A Conversation with Marybeth Peña
Jun 13, 2017 - Radio interview with Marybeth Peña, the Nurse Program Specialist for the Florida Department of Health in Martin county. Discussion focuses on the program she oversees, "The Program for Chronic Disease," which is dedicated to obesity-related chronic disease prevention, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Barometer Provides Key In-depth Information on the Nation’s Behavioral Health
Jun 12, 2017 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a report providing an overview of behavioral health in the U.S. including the prevalence of substance abuse, serious mental illness, serious thoughts of suicide, and related treatment broken down by age, gender, racial and ethnic categories, poverty status, and health insurance status. This report, the Behavioral Health Barometer, United States, Volume 4, is available online.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Restoring Rural America Primary Goal for Ag Secretary
Jun 9, 2017 - Highlights a speech given by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue at the Delta Council annual meeting where he addresses his plans for improving the rural economy by fostering job creation, increasing food exports, and addressing persistent rural poverty.
Source: Delta Farm Press
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FDA Calls On Drugmaker To Pull A Powerful Opioid Off The Market
Jun 8, 2017 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is calling on Endo Pharmaceuticals to stop selling a specific opioid painkiller, Opana ER, due to the "public health consequences of abuse." This is the first time the FDA has acted to remove an opioid from the market, citing the frequent misuse of the drug and associated outbreaks of HIV, hepatitis C, and another serious but less well-known blood disorder called thrombotic microangiopathy. Endo Pharmaceuticals released a statement highlighting their efforts to prevent abuse of the drug and stating that they are reviewing the FDA's request.
Source: NPR
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Seeks Public Input on Reducing the Regulatory Burdens of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
Jun 8, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking feedback on how to change the existing regulations of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in order to increase consumer choice and affordability and state control over healthcare.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Fiscal Year 2017 Tribal Self-Governance Cooperative Agreements available for Tribes and Tribal Organizations
Jun 8, 2017 - Blog post from the Indian Health Services (IHS) describing their Tribal Self-Governance Planning and Negotiation Cooperative Agreements Program, which is currently accepting applications. This program, administered by the Office of Tribal Self-Governance, includes Planning Cooperative Agreements with individual awards up to $120,000 and Negotiation Cooperative Agreements with individual awards up to $48,000.
Source: Indian Health Service Blog
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A Conversation with John Gill
Jun 6, 2017 - Radio interview with John Gill, President of the National Association of Rural Health Clinics. Discussion includes the creation and the work of the National Association of Rural Health Clinics, the use of advanced practice providers, and the of administration of Critical Access Hospitals and Rural Health Clinics, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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The Opioid Crisis Changed How Doctors Think about Pain
Jun 5, 2017 - Describes the evolution in the medical community towards taking pain-management more seriously and seeking to entirely eliminate pain. Also describes the more recent moves away from complete pain-elimination as the destructive effects of opioid addiction became clearer. Features the rural community of Williamson, WV.
Source: Vox
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Generations, Disabled
Jun 2, 2017 - Highlights the struggles of a rural family with four generations suffering from one or more types of disability to address the high disability rates in rural areas. 9.1% of working-age people in rural communities are disabled, a number that is nearly twice the rate in urban counties and 40% higher than the national average. Much of the "disability belt" includes states with high rural populations. (May require subscription to view full article.)
Source: The Washington Post
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New VA Online Tool Helps Veterans Learn About and Compare Effective PTSD Treatments
Jun 2, 2017 - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the launch of the PTSD Treatment Decision Aid, a free online tool to help veterans compare treatment options for post-traumatic stress disorder. The tool provides education on different treatments, including video testimonials from veterans who have used that treatment method.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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As Rural America Faces an Onslaught of Alzheimer's Disease, States Look to Radical Ways to Help
Jun 1, 2017 - Highlights the set of circumstances which make Alzheimer's disease particularly difficult to manage in rural areas, like a growing elderly population and issues related to access, affordability, and distance. Also delves into the pressures these circumstances place on informal caregivers, whose health and mental acuity can suffer as a result of the stress of caring for someone with Alzheimer's, and details the work of some programs to support informal caregivers as a means of improving the health of both caregivers and the people for whom they are caring.
Source: Newsweek
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A Conversation with Carolyn Bruce
Jun 1, 2017 - Radio interview with Carolyn Bruce, the CEO of Western Healthcare Alliance and Healthcare Management and the Executive Director of the California Critical Access Hospital Network. Discussion includes the work of these two organizations and the value they provide to their members, the importance of partnerships in maintaining rural health access, and concern about rural health facility closures, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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HHS Announces over $70 Million in Grants to Address the Opioid Crisis
May 31, 2017 - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that over $70 million is available over multiple years to prevent deaths and provide treatment for opioid use disorder. These grants are available through several different grant programs, and will fund medication-assisted treatment, expanded access to lifesaving overdose reversal medications, the training of healthcare providers and first responders, and establish a protocol for connecting overdose patients with appropriate treatment.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Secretary Shulkin Delivers His First ‘State of the VA’ Address
May 31, 2017 - Highlights some of the topics covered in Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Dr. David Shulkin's first 'State of the VA' address, including access to care, quality of care, and mental healthcare and suicide programs, among other things. A fact sheet on the topics discussed is available.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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Rural Aging Projects Can Be Smaller But ‘Life Changing,’ Say Funders
May 30, 2017 - Discusses the challenges related to aging in place in rural areas, and the general lack of funding for programs providing these services in rural areas as compared to their urban counterparts. Also explores the significant impact funding for these kinds of programs can have in rural areas.
Source: Grantmakers in Aging via The Daily Yonder
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2 Sisters Try To Tackle Drug Use At A Montana Indian Reservation
May 27, 2017 - Highlights community efforts to create peer recovery groups to help combat addiction on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana. Dependence on methamphetamine and other psychostimulants has more than tripled in Montana and Wyoming from 2011 to 2015, creating a high demand for substance abuse programs.
Source: NPR
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Hoeven Introduces Bill to Address Tribal Housing Needs
May 26, 2017 - Details a newly introduced bill, the Building Useful Initiatives for Indian Land Development Act, that aims to improve housing on reservations by providing Native American tribes with increased control over the development of housing projects. If passed, the bill would also reauthorize the Indian Housing Block Grant and Loan Guarantee Program through 2025, among other things.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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USDA Seeks Applications for Community Development Grants
May 26, 2017 - The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for its Community Development Grants, under the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) program, in an effort to strengthen rural economies. Up to $250,000 is available to help nonprofit organizations and communities with housing, community facilities, and economic development projects in rural communities.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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Federal Government-wide Effort Underway to Better Address Serious Mental Illness
May 25, 2017 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the formation of the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC), an interagency initiative to address serious mental illness created under the 21st Century Cures Act. The ISMICC aims to foster coordination of federal agencies' efforts related to serious mental illness.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Patients in Rural Hospitals Can Save Thousands of Dollars If Local Hospital Is Part of Tele-Emergency Room Network
May 24, 2017 - A new study from the University of Iowa found that if a local, rural hospital is part of a tele-emergency room network, it can save patients about $5,600 a year by allowing them to receive care locally. These savings are related to transportation costs, lodging, missed time at work, and other personal expenses.
Source: Iowa Now
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Another Small Maine Hospital to Stop Delivering Babies
May 24, 2017 - Details the impending closure of the obstetrics department of Calais Regional Hospital in rural Washington County, Maine. Discusses differing opinions in the community and examines this closure as part of a trend of rural obstetric units closing as rural hospitals struggle to stay solvent.
Source: Maine Public
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Tribal Management Grants Available for Tribes and Tribal Organizations
May 23, 2017 - Blog post from the Indian Health Service (IHS) highlighting their Tribal Management Grant Program and announcing that they are accepting applications. These grants aim to prepare tribes and tribal organizations to assume all or part of existing IHS programs through the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act. Deadline Extended:Applications are due June 30, 2017.
Source: Indian Health Service Blog
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USDA Offers $500K in Grant Funding for Rural Telemedicine
May 23, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has announced that they will be offering grants of up to $500,000 through their Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program in order to improve rural access to education and healthcare. Special consideration will be given to "Promise Zones," or areas that have been identified as particularly vulnerable.
Source: mHealthIntelligence
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A Conversation with Elisha Yaghmai
May 23, 2017 - Radio interview with Dr. Elisha Yaghmai, the founder and CEO of FreeState Healthcare, formerly Vigilias Telehealth. Discussion focuses primarily on telemedicine, including federal regulations that can act as barriers, the misconception that providing telemedicine has to be expensive for healthcare providers, and the variability of telemedicine coverage from private insurers, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Beyond the Cities: Closing the Gap in Rural Areas
May 22, 2017 - Highlights the work of after school programs in rural areas of California and West Virginia as part of a larger discussion of the impacts of poverty on rural children in the U.S. Touches on a lack of job opportunities and preparedness, the "expectation gap," and limited access to resources, including food insecurity. Includes map on rural county poverty rates from 2011-2015.
Source: YOUTH today
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In Some Rural Counties, Hunger Is Rising, But Food Donations Aren't
May 22, 2017 - Addresses the growing difficulty of providing food to the hungry in rural communities in Virginia due to decreased donations. In some communities, significant donations came from coal mines that have since closed, leaving more people without income and food banks with less ability to address the increased need. Also highlights partnerships that have developed to address some of the underlying problems, including poverty, unemployment, poor health, and a lack of health insurance.
Source: NPR
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Shortage Designation Project Update, May 2017
May 22, 2017 - Details the Health Resources and Services Administration's Shortage Designation Project, which is an effort to modernize and provide greater transparency to the Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) designation and scoring process. The National Shortage Designation Update is expected to be released in July 2017 and will not include automatically designated HPSAs.
Source: Health Resources & Services Administration
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SAMHSA Is Accepting Applications for up to $39.5 Million in Grants to Prevent Suicide
May 19, 2017 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for up to $700,000 per year for five years for the implementation of suicide prevention and intervention programs for people 25 and older. SAMHSA expects to fund 13 grantees through this Cooperative Agreements to Implement Zero Suicide in Health Systems program. The Zero Suicide model, which would be implemented throughout the grantee's health system, is a comprehensive, multi-setting approach designed to raise awareness, establish referral processes, and improve care and outcomes for people who are at risk of suicide.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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UNM’s Project ACCESS: A State-of-the-Art Stroke Care Network
May 18, 2017 - Highlights the impacts of the University of New Mexico's Access to Critical Cerebral Emergency Support Services (ACCESS) project, which uses a telemedicine network to connect rural hospitals from around the state to stroke specialists. Being able to assess and treat many stroke patients rather than transferring them to a stroke center means faster care for patients and significant savings for rural hospitals.
Source: KRWG
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Nursing Homes and Hospice Providers Face Looming Emergency Preparedness Deadline
May 17, 2017 - Details some of the concerns about a rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requiring 17 types of healthcare providers to set new emergency preparedness policies by November 15, 2017. Small and rural facilities, especially long-term care and hospice facilities, ambulatory surgical sites, home health agencies, and dialysis centers, may struggle to meet the requirements which could result in them being dropped by Medicare and Medicaid. (May require registration for full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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Despite Interest, FPs Cite Barriers to Use of Telehealth
May 16, 2017 - Highlights the findings of a recent study exploring the prevalence of the use of telehealth by family physicians, the reason patients used telehealth, the higher rates of use in rural areas and in small practices, and patient-cited barriers to telehealth use, among other things.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Issues Section 1332 State Innovation Waiver Checklist
May 16, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a new checklist to assist states in applying for waivers that would allow states to opt-out of certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act. This tool is aimed at assisting states complete their waiver applications for the creation of high-risk pools/state-operated re-insurance programs in an effort to lower health insurance costs and increase access.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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A Conversation with Dave Pearson
May 16, 2017 - Radio interview with Dave Pearson, the President and CEO of the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals (TORCH). Discussion focuses on rural hospitals including innovative approaches, concern about closures, and collaborative efforts, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Swing Beds Program Helps Rural Areas
May 12, 2017 - Swing beds at Advocate Eureka Hospital in rural Illinois offer patients who need rehab an alternative to going to a nursing home.
Source: Pantagraph
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Rural Shoppers Face Slim Choices, Steep Premiums On Exchanges
May 12, 2017 - According to new studies about a third of the country's population live in areas where just one or maybe two insurers offer policies on the ACA marketplace.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Pregnant Women Latest Victims of Rural Health Care Shortage
May 11, 2017 - According to reports the number of rural counties that lacked hospital OB services was up to 54% in 2014. This number will continue to rise as labor and delivery services will be discontinued mid-July at Angel Medical Center in Franklin, NC.
Source: Citizen-Times
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A Conversation with Lynn Barr
May 9, 2017 - Radio interview with Lynn Barr, the CEO of Caravan Health and the founder of the Rural Health Information Technology Consortium and the National Rural Accountable Care Organization. Discussion includes Accountable Care Organizations, the sustainability of rural health systems, reimbursement rates, and population health, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Life Expectancy Can Vary By 20 Years Depending On Where You Live
May 9, 2017 - Discusses the findings of a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that found that while the life expectancy for people living in the U.S. continues to increase, there are some counties where it is actually getting shorter. The study also found that the difference between the life expectancy of the lowest and highest counties was 20 years, comparable to the difference between developed and developing nations' life expectancies.
Source: NPR
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Rural America Is Hungry
May 8, 2017 - Discusses food insecurity around the country, highlighting specific states and counties as examples. Food insecurity is especially concerning in the rural South, which houses the vast majority of counties with the highest rates of food insecurity.
Source: City Lab
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Loneliness in Seniors: A Medical Problem This Provider Thinks It Can Solve
May 8, 2017 - Highlights a program used to combat loneliness in elderly patients, pointing out that it can cause and be caused by health conditions. Includes descriptions of the interventions being used and discussion of loneliness as a public health concern.
Source: STAT News
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Latest Opioid Fight: As Fentanyl Spreads, States Step Up Responses
May 8, 2017 - Details the additional challenges to fighting the opioid epidemic created by more severe opioids, like fentanyl and carfentanil, which are being added to heroin. Because these additions are so much more potent, they are being linked to increased rates of overdoses throughout the country and complicating efforts to respond to the opioid epidemic.
Source: Stateline
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Here Is What's In The House-Approved Health Care Bill
May 4, 2017 - Provides an overview of policy changes in the American Health Care Act that just passed in the House of Representatives. Covers insurance, Medicaid, pre-existing conditions, state waivers, tax credits, tax cuts, the overall impact on the number of uninsured in the country, and the impact on the federal deficit.
Source: NPR
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HRSA: Determination of Number of Entities and Recruitment of Entities for Assignment of Corps Personnel Obligated Under the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program Federal Register
May 4, 2017 - Announces that for the October 1, 2017 - September 30, 2018 National Health Service Corps (NHSC) placement cycle, eligible sites must have a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) score of 17 or higher to be included on the Health Workforce Connector website and receive priority scholar placement. Sites with HPSA scores lower than 17 may post their job openings on the Health Workforce Connector, but NHSC scholars will only be allowed to apply for positions at sites whose score is 17 or greater.
Source: Federal Register
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Rural Telehealth Growth Dramatic but Uneven
May 2, 2017 - Highlights the results of a new study from Harvard Medical School and the RAND corporation which found that although there has been an average increase of 45% for behavioral and mental telehealth visits for rural patients in the last ten years, there is significant variation between states. Also explores some explanations for the increase as well as the large differences between states.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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VA Partners with Department of Energy on Big-data Initiative to Improve Health Care for Veterans
May 1, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to improve healthcare for veterans using large digital health and genomic data, called "big data," from the VA and other federal sources. This partnership, the VA-DOE Big Data Science Initiative, will focus on suicide prevention, cancer, and heart disease.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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EOP: Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America Federal Register
Apr 28, 2017 - Executive order revoking the establishment of the White House Rural Council, and directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. Chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture, the USDA will provide funding and administrative support to maintain the Task Force. The Task Force will identify legislative, regulatory, and policy priorities to promote rural prosperity in the following areas: agriculture, economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security, and quality of life.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS: Medicare Program; Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals and the Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System and Proposed Policy Changes and Fiscal Year 2018 Rates; Quality Reporting Requirements for Specific Providers; Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program Requirements for Eligible Hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals, and Eligible Professionals; Provider-Based Status of Indian Health Service and Tribal Facilities and Organizations; Costs Reporting and Provider Requirements; Agreement Termination Notices Federal Register
Apr 28, 2017 - Proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) which, among other things, would revise the Medicare hospital inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) for operating and capital-related costs of acute care hospitals, implement certain provisions of various legislation, and establish new requirements or revise existing requirements for Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and other eligible providers participating in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs. Comments regarding the proposed changes must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern on June 13, 2017.
Source: Federal Register
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National Minority Health Month: Bridging Observance and Action to Achieve Health Equity
Apr 27, 2017 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health focusing on minority health, health equity, and social determinants of health. Also touches on efforts to address social determinants of health including a Chronic Care Management Education and Outreach Campaign created in collaboration with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Blog
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Disconnected Youth: Out of School and Out of Work in Rural America
Apr 27, 2017 - Details the increase in "disconnected youth," people 16 to 24 who are unemployed and out of school, in rural communities. Traditionally this has been seen as an issue in urban areas, meaning that research and funding for this issue have not been focused on rural areas. Includes chart comparing rural, urban, and other areas from 2000-2016.
Source: Stateline
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Call for Papers: Prevention and Treatment of Opioid Overdose and Opioid-Use Disorders
Apr 27, 2017 - Requests manuscript submissions to be published in a special issue of Addictive Behaviors focused on prevention and treatment of opioid use disorders and opioid overdoses. The submission deadline is September 1, 2017.
Source: Elsevier
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VETS Act Takes Aim at mHealth, Telehealth Access for Veterans
Apr 26, 2017 - The bipartisan-sponsored Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act of 2017 has been reintroduced in both houses of Congress. Among other things, this legislation would allow doctors to provide care for veterans across state lines, something that is currently prohibited unless they are in federal facilities. The aim is to increase access to care and reduce wait times for veterans, especially those in rural areas.
Source: mHealthIntelligence
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Rural Hospital In East Georgia To Close, Citing Economic Pressures
Apr 26, 2017 - Jenkins Medical Center, a Critical Access Hospital in Georgia, will close in June due to an unsustainable financial situation. This will be the seventh rural Georgia hospital to close since the beginning of 2013. Its services will merge with a neighboring hospital approximately 20 miles away.
Source: Georgia Health News
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Severe Shortage Of Home Health Workers Robs Thousands Of Proper Care
Apr 26, 2017 - Details the severe need for home health aides and nursing assistants across the country. Difficulty with staffing combined with low reimbursement rates make it hard for long-term care facilities to remain open, particularly in rural areas. Highlights the difficulties being faced in Wisconsin as a touchstone for the larger problem.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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The Opioid Epidemic’s Startling Age Divide
Apr 26, 2017 - Highlights recent research on the trends related to the opioid epidemic, with particular focus on the different types of opioids used by people in their 20s and 30s, who are more likely to use heroin, compared to people in their 50s and 60s, who are more likely to use prescription opioids. Includes several charts on various trends related to opioid abuse.
Source: Vox
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Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America
Apr 25, 2017 - Executive Order from President Donald Trump on the establishment of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. This task force will be chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture and will seek to identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes to promote agricultural and rural prosperity.
Source: The White House
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A Conversation with Bill Jolley
Apr 25, 2017 - Radio interview with Bill Jolley, the Vice President for Rural Health Issues for the Tennessee Hospital Association and the Executive Director of the Tennessee Rural Partnership. Discussion includes rural hospital closures, health coalitions, the transition from volume to value, population health, and health workforce recruitment, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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