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

A Conversation with Kate Hill
Jul 17, 2018 - Radio interview with Kate Hill, a registered nurse and the Vice President of Clinical Services at The Compliance Team (TCT) where she directs their Rural Health Clinic Accreditation program. Discussion includes the work of TCT and how accreditation works, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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'People Are Literally Being Poisoned': How Sewage Problems in Alabama Got So Bad -- and Why Other States Should Worry
Jul 17, 2018 - Discusses the lack of waste disposal infrastructure in Alabama and the discovery that a number of rural residents whose homes are not attached to municipal sewer systems may have tropical diseases. Touches on the barriers to addressing the infrastructure problem, including problems faced by people who do have septic systems or who are attached to the sewer system. Also references other places with similar problems related to waste disposal infrastructure, including Native American reservations, where fewer than half of homes are connected to sewers. What these areas have in common is that they tend to already be poor and populated by members of marginalized groups.
Source: Governing
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It’s 4 A.M. The Baby’s Coming. But the Hospital Is 100 Miles Away.
Jul 17, 2018 - Discusses the lack of access to obstetric care in much of the rural areas of the county, focusing on a community in Missouri where the local hospital recently closed and many surrounding hospitals have closed their obstetrics units, making the distance to care significant. Also touches on the impact to a rural community when it loses a hospital and when it loses this specific kind of care. (May require subscription to view full article.)
Source: The New York Times
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USDA Partners to Improve Rural Water Infrastructure for Nearly 250,000 People in 103 Communities
Jul 16, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it is investing $267 million to upgrade water and wastewater systems in rural communities. These investments will be made through 103 infrastructure projects in 35 states through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Mobile Food Banks Roll to Isolated, Rural Poor
Jul 16, 2018 - Highlights the work of the West Alabama Food Bank's mobile pantry which delivers food to people in nine rural counties in Alabama, many poor, aging, or disabled. With poverty levels higher in rural areas than in urban, food insecurity concentrated in rural areas, and more limited transportation options in rural areas, mobile food pantries are an attempt to bridge the gap.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
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Public Inspection: CMS: Medicare Program; Revisions to Payment Policies under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other Revisions to Part B for CY 2019; Medicare Shared Savings Program Requirements; Quality Payment Program; and Medicaid Promoting Interoperability Program Federal Register
Jul 13, 2018 - Pre-publication notice of proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services making changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and other Medicare Part B payment policies. Provides information on payment for rural facilities and providers throughout. Comments on the proposed rule are due by September 10, 2018. Official publication of this notice is scheduled for July 27, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS Proposes Historic Changes to Modernize Medicare and Restore the Doctor-Patient Relationship
Jul 12, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released proposed rule changes to the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and the Quality Payment Program (QPP) in an effort to increase the amount of time that doctors and other clinicians can spend with their patients by reducing the burden of paperwork and use electronic health records (EHRs) to document clinically meaningful information in addition to information related to billing. These proposals would also modernize Medicare payment policies to promote access to virtual care and make changes to quality reporting requirements to focus on measures that most significantly impact health outcomes, among other things.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Commissioner Carr Announces $100 Million ‘Connected Care Pilot Program’
Jul 11, 2018 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that they will seek to establish a new $100 million "Connected Care Pilot Program" to support telehealth for low-income Americans, especially veterans and those living in rural areas. Investments in chronic care have resulted in substantial savings, particularly in the management of chronic diseases.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
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CMS Proposes Rule Change to Protect Medicaid Provider Payments
Jul 10, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule change to the Medicaid Provider Reassignment regulation. In 2014, this regulation was revised with a new exception authorizing the state to divert Medicaid payments to third parties to fund other costs on behalf of providers. This rule would eliminate that exception in an effort to ensure that taxpayer dollars dedicated to providing healthcare services for low-income patients are not diverted inappropriately. CMS is accepting comments on this proposed rule change.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Partnering to Bring Hope to Rural Communities in Crisis
Jul 9, 2018 - Discussion of takeaways from the recent rural opioid misuse roundtables by Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development (RD) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), who traveled to a number of states to facilitate these conversations. Includes impacts of the opioid epidemic as well as resources to help rural communities address the crisis.
Source: National Association of Counties
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Statement by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., On Balancing Access to Appropriate Treatment for Patients with Chronic and End-of-life Pain with Need to Take Steps to Stem Misuse and Abuse of Opioids
Jul 9, 2018 - Statement from Scott Gottlieb, M.D., Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Discusses the difficulty of balancing the needs of patients with chronic pain or coping with pain at the end of life with efforts to address the opioid epidemic. Includes steps the FDA is taking to strike that balance.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
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CMS Aiding Small, Rural Practices Can Improve MIPS Participation
Jul 6, 2018 - Details a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which found that small and rural practices are more likely to struggle with Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) participation, because of challenges related to legacy program requirements, a lack of financial and staff resources, and technology issues.
Source: EHR Intelligence
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CMS Takes Action to Modernize Medicare Home Health
Jul 2, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed significant changes to the Home Health Prospective Payment System. These changes aim to improve outcomes with remote patient monitoring technology and updates to the payment model for home health care. These updates include, among other things, allowing the cost of remote patient monitoring to be reported by home health agencies as allowable costs and implementing a new Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) for home health payments, with units of payment based not on the number of therapy visits but on 30-day periods of care.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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HRSA: Lists of Designated Primary Medical Care, Mental Health, and Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas Federal Register
Jul 2, 2018 - The Health Resources and Services Administration announces the availability of the complete lists of all geographic areas, population groups, and facilities designated as primary care, mental health, and/or dental care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Lists are available on the HPSA Find website and are current as of May 1, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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NIH-Funded Scientists Put Socioeconomic Data on the Map
Jun 29, 2018 - A new tool developed by scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides local level socioeconomic data on a map. The Neighborhood Atlas uses the 17 measures of education, housing quality, and poverty, updated with current American Community Survey data. It is built so that it can be merged with other data sources to foster better understanding of how neighborhood disadvantage impacts health.
Source: National Institutes of Health
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CMS Advances Demonstration to Waive MIPS Requirements for Clinicians in Certain At-Risk Medicare Advantage Plans
Jun 29, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is advancing the Medicare Advantage Qualifying Payment Arrangement Incentive (MAQI) Demonstration. This would waive Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) requirements for clinicians who participate sufficiently in certain Medicare advantage plans that involve taking on risk.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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'Fundamental Shift' Needed To Protect Miners From Deadly Black Lung
Jun 28, 2018 - Details a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) which found that new and tougher rules to protect coal miners from the coal and silica dust that causes black lung disease may not be enough. More than compliance is needed, according to this study, to address the fact that Central Appalachia has the highest rates of this disease in 25 years.
Source: NPR
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HRSA Needs New and Experienced Grant Reviewers
Jun 28, 2018 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is seeking experienced grant reviewers with expertise in health professions training, HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health service, organ donation/transplantation, primary care for underserved populations, and rural healthcare.
Source: Grant Solutions
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Myths and Opportunities: What's Happening in Rural Philanthropy?
Jun 26, 2018 - Discusses the differences between rural and urban philanthropy, touching on some misconceptions larger foundations may have about philanthropy in rural areas. Discusses some of the philanthropic work being done in rural communities across the country, and the ways that larger foundations could have an impact and expand their reach into rural areas.
Source: Inside Philanthropy
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A Conversation with Darrold Bertsch
Jun 26, 2018 - Radio interview with Darrold Bertsch, CEO of Sakakawea Medical Center, a Critical Access Hospital, and Coal Country Community Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center, both in rural North Dakota. Discussion includes the work of these two facilities, difficulties related to recruitment and retention, and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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CMS Announces Initiatives to Strengthen Medicaid Program Integrity
Jun 26, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have announced new initiatives to improve transparency and accountability in the Medicaid program. These initiatives also seek to strengthen data and provide innovative analytic tools. New initiatives include auditing of state claims for federal match funds and medical loss ratios, and audits of state beneficiary eligibility determinations, among other things.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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FCC Boosts Funding For Rural Health Care Program
Jun 25, 2018 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has increased the annual cap on the Rural Health Care Program's spending by nearly 43%, to $571 million. This will reverse across-the-board spending cuts for the current funding year imposed by the old cap.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
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Translational Research on Caregiving to Improve Outcomes of Care Recipients and Caregivers, Call for Papers: Innovation In Aging (Special Issue)
Jun 25, 2018 - Innovation in Aging has released a Call for Papers for a special issue seeking to address the need for a more timely translation of scientific discovery to develop methods, interventions, and treatments to improve the everyday lived experiences of caregivers and care recipients. Abstracts are due by August 1, 2018.
Source: The Gerontological Society of America
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When an Iowa Family Doctor Takes On the Opioid Epidemic
Jun 23, 2018 - Highlights a doctor in rural Iowa who worked to provide medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in her community. Touches on the effort that went into being able to offer this kind of treatment and the barriers that were faced along the way, including stigma among medical professionals.
Source: The New York Times
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CMS Launches Data Element Library Supporting Interoperability
Jun 21, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new database that supports the exchange of electronic health information. Using the Data Element Library, the public can view the specific types of data that CMS requires post-acute facilities to collect as part of the health assessment of their patients. It also includes health information technology standards that support the collection of health information, with the ultimate goal of making it easier to share electronic health information between providers.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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SAMHSA Accepting Applications for up to $50 Million to Help Tribes Address Opioid Crisis
Jun 21, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for up to $50 million to fund prevention, treatment, and recovery activities. These Tribal Opioid Response Grants will increase access to culturally-appropriate evidence-based treatment, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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CMS Seeks Public Input on Reducing the Regulatory Burdens of the Stark Law
Jun 20, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking recommendations from the public on how to address any undue impact and burden of the physician self-referral law, also known as the Stark Law, with a focus on how the law may impede care coordination. This is part of an ongoing effort by the administration to reduce regulatory burdens. Comments are due by August 24, 2018.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Reaching Rural Residents
Jun 19, 2018 - HIV.gov interview with Kristine Sande, Program Director of the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub), on barriers to and strategies for reaching rural Americans with information and resources related to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
Source: HIV.gov Blog
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A Conversation with Scott Daniels
Jun 19, 2018 - Radio interview with Scott Daniels, Ph.D., Performance Improvement Coordinator at the State of Hawaii Office of Primary Care and Rural Health. Discussion includes rural health in Hawaii, the difficulty of attracting providers to the state, especially to the most rural and remote areas, the emphasis on culturally-competent care, and a leadership development program being implemented among Critical Access Hospitals in the state, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Joint Statement of Action to Promote Elder Justice in Rural America by The United States Department of Justice And United States Department of Agriculture
Jun 15, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are forming a working group to focus on ways to empower and support rural and tribal communities to combat elder abuse and financial exploitation. Strategic action steps developed by this working group will be presented in November 2018 at the DOJ's Rural Elder Justice Summit.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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APPLY NOW! The Rural Communities Opioid Response Funding Opportunity!
Jun 15, 2018 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) released the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the new Rural Communities Opioid Response (Planning) (RCORP) initiative for FY 2018. HRSA plans to award approximately 75 grants through this funding opportunity, with successful awardees receiving up to $200,000 for one year to develop plans to implement opioid use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery interventions designed to reduce opioid overdoses among rural populations.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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SAMHSA Announces $930 Million Funding Opportunity to Combat the Opioid Crisis
Jun 15, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for $930 million in State Opioid Response Grants. These grants will be awarded to states and territories to support ongoing efforts to provide prevention, treatment, and recovery support services to individuals with opioid use disorder.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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HHS Makes $350 Million Available to Fight the Opioid Crisis in Community Health Centers Nationwide
Jun 15, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $350 million in new funding through the Expanding Access to Quality Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services funding opportunity. This funding will allow community health centers to invest in personnel and one-time infrastructure enhancements to address immediate barriers to implementing or expanding substance use disorder and mental health services. Applications are due July 16, 2018.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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MACPAC Makes Recommendations to Strengthen Medicaid Drug Rebate Program; Address Opioid Epidemic
Jun 15, 2018 - The Medicaid and CHIP Payment Access Commission (MACPAC) released its June 2018 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP, with recommendations to change statutory provisions that prevent state Medicaid programs from paying the lowest price for certain drugs and clarify regulations on protecting the privacy of patients with substance use disorder (SUD) to support integration of care.
Source: Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission
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CDC: More Obesity in U.S. Rural Counties than in Urban Counties
Jun 14, 2018 - Press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), which found that obesity prevalence was significantly higher among adults living in rural counties than among those living in metropolitan counties. Includes some discussion of the health risks of obesity, steps rural communities can employ to address this disparity, and the CDC's High Obesity Program (HOP).
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Chairman Pai’s Proposal To Increase Rural Health Care Funding Receives Majority Support at FCC
Jun 14, 2018 - Press release from Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announcing that his proposal to increase funding for the Universal Service Fund's Rural Health Care Program has been approved by a majority of the FCC Commissioners.
Source: Federal Communications Commission, Office of the Chairman
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USDA Launches Interactive Map of Opioid Epidemic Resources
Jun 14, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new interactive map on their rural opioid misuse webpage. This map allows site users to learn about, access, or replicate actions rural leaders are taking in small towns across the country to address the opioid epidemic. The USDA is also inviting users to share effective actions taken in response to the opioid epidemic in rural communities with their "What's working in your town?" form.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Global Hospital Budgets in Maryland: When Economics and Altruism Align
Jun 14, 2018 - Blog post highlighting Maryland's all-payer global budgeting system. Includes some early evaluations as well as anecdotal comments from hospital CEOs and officials made during a panel discussion at a day-long policy academy organized by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-sponsored by the Milbank Memorial Fund.
Source: Milbank Memorial Fund Blog: The View From Here
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U.S. Department of Labor Issues New Rule to Update Payment Of Medical Benefits Under Black Lung Benefits Act
Jun 13, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) published a final rule under the Black Lung Benefits Act, which provides compensation and payment for medical services to miners who are totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease. The new regulations adopt industry-standard payment formulas, codify the black lung program's current payment practice for prescription drug payments, and its bill-processing procedures.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
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More Providers at Your Site May Soon Be Eligible for NHSC
Jun 12, 2018 - The Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) National Health Service Corps (NHSC) received $105 million for future NHSC Loan Repayment Program awards to expand and improve access to quality opioid and substance use disorder treatment in rural and underserved areas. The deadline to opt-in is Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Opt-in instructions are also available.
Source: National Health Service Corps, Health Resources and Services Administration
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CMS Opioids Roadmap
Jun 11, 2018 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the opioid crisis and the roadmap they are publishing to outline their efforts to address it. Among other things, it details their three-pronged approach to combating the opioid epidemic, focusing on prevention, treatment, and utilizing data from across the country to target prevention and treatment activities.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Blog
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SAMHSA Publishes Updated Toolkit to Help Prevent Opioid Overdoses
Jun 11, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) updated its Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit. This toolkit, designed to help healthcare providers, families, and other community members prevent opioid overdose deaths, addresses factors that can lead to an opioid overdose death and when and how to use naloxone.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Rethinking Rural Healthcare: How to Improve Healthcare in Rural Areas
Jun 11, 2018 - Modern Healthcare released an edition focused on rural healthcare, touching on topics like the opioid crisis, telehealth, the healthcare workforce, population health, the risk of rural hospital closures, and more, including highlighting efforts in specific states. (May require registration for full articles.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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CMS Leverages Medicaid Program to Combat the Opioid Crisis
Jun 11, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance to help states combat the opioid crisis, including information on promising practices, available resources, types of approaches, and the tools available to them. CMS has also released an Informational Bulletin with information on designing approaches to covering critical treatment services for Medicaid eligible infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and a Medicaid Technology letter to states on how to best use federal funding to enhance Medicaid technology to combat drug addiction and the opioid crisis.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Rural Funders Urge Philanthropies to Let Communities Lead the Way
Jun 8, 2018 - Details the focus of a panel discussion in a pre-conference session of the National Rural Assembly. The three panelists were Dr. Ned Calonge, president and CEO of The Colorado Trust, Anne Kubisch, president and CEO of the Ford Family Foundation in Oregon, and Elena Marks, president and CEO of the Episcopal Health Foundation in Houston, Texas. Includes their individual remarks as well as the overarching idea that building relationships within rural communities and allowing residents to set the pace and focus of the change were imperative for rural philanthropies.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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VA Commits $17 Million to Expand Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program
Jun 7, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is investing $17 million in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Assistance Programs in VA facilities nationwide. This program works on understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma in order to end violence, prevent further violence, and promote healthy relationships.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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Suicide Rates Rising Across the U.S.
Jun 7, 2018 - Press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighting the findings of their most recent Vital Signs report examining state-level trends in suicide rates from 1999-2016. Not only are suicide rates rising in almost every state, but more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known diagnosed mental health condition at the time of their death. Although increases varied between states, twenty five states had suicide rate increase of more than 30%.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Rural America Has Too Few Dentists — and Too Few Patients Who Can Pay
Jun 7, 2018 - Discusses oral health needs and disparities in rural America, focusing on a rural town in West Virginia. Although things like workforce shortages and preventive services either being reimbursed at low rates or not being covered at all by Medicaid or Medicare can contribute to the problem, this also touches on the economic realities of rural America and how difficult it can be to afford care even when it is accessible. (May require subscription to view full article.)
Source: The Washington Post
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Chairman Pai Proposes Significant Funding Increase For Rural Health Care Program
Jun 7, 2018 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced that he had circulated a draft order to his colleagues that would increase the Universal Service Fund's Rural Health Care Program's funding cap from $400 million to $571 million. This increase is what the original funding level cap would be today when adjusted for inflation. This increase would apply to the current funding year. It would also give providers long-term certainty by adjusting the cap annually for inflation and allowing unused funds from prior years to be carried forward.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
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HHS: Facilitation of Public-Private Dialogue to Increase Innovation and Investment in the Healthcare Sector Federal Register
Jun 7, 2018 - The Office of the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning a workgroup to facilitate constructive, high-level dialogue between HHS leadership and those focused on innovating and investing in the healthcare industry. HHS is seeking comments through Friday, July 6, 2018 on the structure of the workgroup and on opportunities for increased engagement and dialogue between HHS and those focused on innovating and investing in the healthcare industry.
Source: Federal Register
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New UDS Mapper Tool: Mapping Areas of Priority for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAP for MAT)
Jun 5, 2018 - The UDS Mapper has a new tool for health centers designed to assist in identifying areas of high need as well as existing services related to the opioid epidemic and opioid use disorder treatment. Includes information on webinars related to using the UDS Mapper tool.
Source: HealthLandscape
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HHS: 340B Drug Pricing Program Ceiling Price and Manufacturer Civil Monetary Penalties Regulation; Rule Federal Register
Jun 5, 2018 - Notice of a final rule from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to further delay the effective date of a January 5, 2017 final rule that set forth the calculation of the ceiling price and application of civil monetary penalties for the 340B Drug Pricing Program. The new effective date of the final rule will be July 1, 2019.
Source: Federal Register
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Senate Bill Seeks To Help Farmers Obtain Mental Health Services
Jun 4, 2018 - Details a bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate aiming to improve access to mental health services and financial help in an effort to reduce rural suicide, with a focus on farmers and ranchers. The bill would attempt to strengthen networks like hotlines and suicide prevention programs by channeling $10 million in competitive grants to nonprofits, state extension offices, or state departments of agriculture.
Source: KUNC
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CMS Unveils Scorecard to Deliver New Level of Transparency within Medicaid and CHIP Program
Jun 4, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the first Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Scorecard in an effort to increase CMS's transparency and accountability. It includes measures voluntarily reported by states as well as federally reported measures related to state health system performance, state administrative accountability, and federal administrative accountability.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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SAMHSA Is Announcing the Availability of up to $10.8 Million for the Providers Clinical Support System – Universities Program
Jun 4, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for grants totaling up to $10.8 million over three years to expand and enhance access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) services. SAMHSA expects to fund up to 24 grantees through the Providers Clinical Support System - Universities grant program to ensure that students in the medical, physician assistant, and nurse practitioner fields fulfill the training requirements to obtain a Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA) waiver to prescribe buprenorphine in office-based settings.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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MAP Rural Health Workgroup Second Draft Report Comment through July 2
Jun 4, 2018 - Project Alert from the National Quality Forum (NQF) announcing that the second draft report is posted to the NQF's Measure Applications Partnership (MAP) Rural Health Workgroup webpage. Comments will be accepted through Monday, July 2, 2018.
Source: National Quality Forum
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National Funders Say They Hope Rural Groups Apply for $10 Million Challenge
Jun 1, 2018 - The Communities Thrive Challenge, a project of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, will award up to $1 million each to 10 organizations that are improving local economies and creating financial stability for families. The creators of this initiative designed the application process to help identify new kinds of grantees, including underfunded rural organizations.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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President Trump’s Executive Order Supporting Mental Health Care for Transitioning Service Members Now Underway
May 31, 2018 - In January 2018, President Trump signed an executive order directing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collaborate to provide improved access to mental healthcare and suicide resources to veterans with a focus on the first year following military service. The VA has announced that the White House has approved an interagency plan to implement this directive.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
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Report: Rural Poverty In America Is 'An Emergency'
May 31, 2018 - Highlights the results of a report, produced by the advocacy group Save the Children, ranking nations on factors that are considered "childhood enders" like displacement, child labor, child mortality, and gender bias. The U.S. ranks 36th, largely due to a high infant mortality rate, high rate of children who are victims of homicide, and high teen pregnancy rates. The report also detailed concerns about rural poverty in America, which it called an "emergency," and which affects nearly a quarter of rural children. The highest concentrations of child poverty were in the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia, and on Native American reservations.
Source: NPR
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Quality Payment Program Exceeds Year 1 Participation Goal
May 31, 2018 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma announcing that 91% of clinicians eligible for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) participated in the first year of the Quality Payment Program (QPP). CMS' goal had been 90% participation. The submission rates for Accountable Care Organizations and clinicians in rural practices were at 98% and 94%. Also touches on new CMS efforts to improve MIPS requirements.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Blog
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As Fatal Overdoses Rise, Many Americans See Drug Addiction as a Major Problem in Their Community
May 30, 2018 - Highlights the findings of a new Pew Research Center survey, which found that 9 out of 10 rural residents say that drug addiction is a problem in their community. Also provides an overview of the opioid epidemic and who it is impacting, comparing overdose mortality rates in urban, suburban, and rural areas, and between racial and ethnic groups.
Source: Fact Tank, Pew Research Center
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SAMHSA Announces $196 Million Funding Opportunity for Opioid Treatment Grants to Hardest-Hit States and Tribes
May 30, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for $196 million to expand access to medication-assisted treatment and recovery support services for people with opioid use disorder. This funding is through the Targeted Capacity Expansion: Medication Assisted Treatment - Prescription Drug Opioid Addiction grant program.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Senate Passes Udall, Tester, Hoeven, Isakson Bill to Combat Native American Veteran Homelessness
May 24, 2018 - Announces the Senate passage of the Tribal HUD-VASH Act, which authorizes a joint tribal veterans housing initiative between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program, which provides rental and housing assistance to veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. This initiative allows tribes and tribal housing authorities to access veterans housing funds for Native American veterans.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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SAMHSA Is Announcing the Availability of up to $230 Million for the Strategic Prevention Framework Partnerships for Success Grant Program
May 23, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for Strategic Prevention Framework - Partnerships for Success grants totaling up to $230 million over five years for substance abuse prevention that reaches populations most impacted. Although specifically focused on underage drinking among 9 to 20 year olds, recipients may also use funds to target up to two additional, data-driven substance abuse prevention priorities. SAMHSA expects to fund up to 34 grantees from up to $500,000 to $2.26 million per year for up to five years.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Senators Target Medicaid in Telehealth Bills Tackling Opioid Abuse
May 23, 2018 - Details four bills introduced in the U.S. Senate this week that aim to use telehealth to address the opioid epidemic and to reach more people on Medicaid and in rural areas. All of these bills have bi-partisan co-sponsors.
Source: mHealthIntelligence
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New Studies Confirm A Surge In Coal Miners' Disease
May 22, 2018 - Highlights a number of new studies about black lung disease. These studies found that more miners working in central Appalachia have earlier stages of the disease and more miners have suffered the advanced stages of the disease than previous government research has found. Other findings include sharp increases in the disease year after year, that lung function continues to get worse in miners with simple black lung even after they stop working, and a growing number of lung transplants for miners with severe symptoms.
Source: NPR
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A Conversation with Carrie Henning Smith
May 22, 2018 - Radio interview with Dr. Carrie Henning-Smith, the Deputy Director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Discussion includes an overview of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and its work, including research into barriers faced by rural residents in accessing nursing home care and related population health concerns, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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HRSA: Recruitment of Sites for Assignment of National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program Participants Federal Register
May 21, 2018 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announces that the listing of eligible entities that will receive priority for the assignment of National Health Service Corps (NHSC) scholarship recipients available for service October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019 is posted on the Health Workforce Connector website. Also includes Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) scores for eligible facilities and instructions on how to submit information in support of a higher priority determination, due by June 20, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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