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

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. Applications are due June 7, 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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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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Rural Doctors’ Training May Be in Jeopardy
Apr 24, 2017 - The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, a part of the Affordable Care Act, provides grants to community health centers to train medical residents in an effort to increase the number of primary care physicians in rural and poor urban areas. The funding for this program will expire at the end of September unless Congress votes to continue it. Despite a history of bipartisan support, the program is smaller and newer than many other programs and has been subject to cuts in the past.
Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts
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Minnesota Hospital Confronts Dilemma of Opioid Addicts Who Are Expectant Moms
Apr 22, 2017 - Highlights the approach of a hospital in Minnesota to reduce the number of premature births caused by expectant mothers using opioids. The hospital provides medication-assisted treatment and helps connect women with other resources they may need to be stable and successful, such as housing, transportation, and childcare. Many of the women served are from nearby rural and tribal areas.
Source: Star Tribune
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Hoeven Examines Implementation of the Native American Children's Safety Act of 2016
Apr 21, 2017 - The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), convened a field oversight hearing on the implementation of the Native American Children's Safety Act of 2016, which requires background checks before foster care placements are ordered in tribal court proceedings. As part of these considerations, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is identifying best practices for social service agencies in tribal areas in order to adapt these practices for use by tribal social service agencies to assure the safety of Native American children placed in foster care.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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Patterns Of Death In The South Still Show The Outlines Of Slavery
Apr 20, 2017 - Highlights the health disparities found in many southern counties with high or majority African American populations. Mortality rates for African Americans living in this area, much of which is rural, are significantly higher than the national average. People in this area have poorer health, higher rates of poverty, higher rates of unemployment, and less access to health insurance.
Source: FiveThirtyEight
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Cherokee Nation Files Lawsuit Targeting CVS and Other Pharmacies in Opioid Crisis
Apr 20, 2017 - Following in the footsteps of several other counties that have filed lawsuits against pharmacies and drug companies for allegedly not reporting suspicious patterns of prescription drug usage to federal officials, the Cherokee Nation has filed its own lawsuit against CVS, Walgreens, and other drug companies and retailers. The Cherokee Nation argues that these pharmacies and drug companies are partly responsible for the severity of the opioid crisis and its impact in their communities. They are the first tribal nation to bring a suit against drug companies over the opioid epidemic.
Source: STAT News
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CMS Calls On Rural Hospitals to Join Alternative Payment Model
Apr 20, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is accepting applications for their Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program, which tests an alternative payment model in small, rural hospitals that are still too large to qualify for the higher Medicare reimbursement rates of Critical Access Hospitals. This program has been implemented in 2004, 2008, and 2010, and was just authorized for a five-year extension under the 21st Century Cures Act.
Source: RevCycle Intelligence
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Trump Extends Troubled VA Program That Pays Private Doctors
Apr 19, 2017 - The Veterans Administration's (VA) Veterans Choice Program has been extended beyond its original August end point to January in order to give the VA time to propose a comprehensive reform package. The Veterans Choice Program aims to decrease wait times and increase access to care for veterans by allowing them to see private providers, but some argue that is actually makes getting care more difficult.
Source: NPR
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The Future of Healthcare
Apr 19, 2017 - Interview with Mario Gutierrez, the Executive Director of the California Health Care Foundation (CCHP). Discussion includes the successes and the challenges still facing telemedicine and the future of healthcare and technology.
Source: The Signal Center
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A Conversation with John Barnas
Apr 18, 2017 - Radio interview with John Barnas, the Executive Director of the Michigan Center for Rural Health, where he coordinates the State Office of Rural Health Program, the Flex and SHIP programs, policy, recruitment and retention services, distance education, and other rural primary care and value-based programs. Barnas is also a member of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) Government Affairs Committee and Medicaid Task Force and a board member for the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH). Discussion includes distance education for rural health professionals, rural hospital closures, and Accountable Care Organizations, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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A Pain in the Night and a Harrowing Drive: A Crisis in Rural Health Care Puts Mothers-to-be on a Risky Road
Apr 17, 2017 - Addresses the challenges faced by women in rural areas forced to drive long distances while in labor, an act which dramatically increases the risk for complications and for extended hospital stays. Focuses specifically on one family in rural Minnesota to illustrate these challenges while also highlighting the role that rural birthing unit and hospital closures have played in exacerbating these challenges.
Source: STAT News
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Rural Population Drops for Fifth Straight Year, But Other Patterns Are Changing
Apr 14, 2017 - According to Census Bureau estimates, the population in rural areas of the country dropped again last year for the fifth consecutive year, a trend that can be problematic for rural areas because it means fewer people contributing to local economies. However, the decline is smaller than in years past and the population in rural counties close to cities actually grew, both of which may indicate a possible shift in the trend back towards population growth. Includes several charts and an interactive map with county-by-county data.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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CMS Releases Quality Data Showing Racial, Ethnic and Gender Differences in Medicare Advantage Health Care During National Minority Health Month
Apr 13, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) released reports comparing the quality of care received by people enrolled in Medicare Advantage by gender and racial and ethnic differences. The first report compares quality of treatment between men and women. The second report compares the quality of care provided to different racial and ethnic groups, and this data is also separated by gender.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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CMS Issues Final Rule to Increase Choices and Encourage Stability in Health Insurance Market for 2018
Apr 13, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule that adjusts the annual open enrollment period for 2018 to align with Medicare and the private market, requires individuals to provide documentation to qualify for special enrollment periods, eliminates review of network adequacy at the federal level, and allows issuers more flexibility in their plans and policies. This rule aims to stabilize the health insurance market, lower premiums, and increase choice for consumers.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Broadband Problems Derail Montana’s Telemedicine Legislation
Apr 12, 2017 - Details the challenges of expanding telemedicine to rural residents where broadband capability is often lacking. Also highlights legislation in Montana that would have set telemedicine practice standards for the state but which has now been postponed indefinitely due to disagreement over whether to allow telemedicine to be provided using only a telephone, rather than a more complex audio-visual telehealth platform. In rural areas without broadband, a telephone may be their only option, but there is concern that this is not an effective way to establish a trusting doctor-patient relationship.
Source: mHealthIntelligence
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Suicide and the Rural ER
Apr 12, 2017 - Explores the lack of access to mental healthcare experienced in rural areas through the first hand experience of an emergency room doctor from rural Georgia. The expense of telepsychiatry and the lack of mental health providers in their rural area, compounded with the shortage of beds in state psychiatric hospitals and the expense of private care means that people in rural areas often go without the potentially life-saving care they need.
Source: Politico
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Health in the Heartland
Apr 12, 2017 - Provides an overview of health concerns in rural areas including suicide, shorter life expectancy, reduced healthcare access, high rates of uninsured people, and closing rural hospitals. Includes several charts and graphics.
Source: Politico
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Healthcare's New Rural Frontier
Apr 12, 2017 - Highlights the difficulties faced by rural residents in accessing healthcare as well as the difficulties faced by rural hospitals trying to provide care and remain economically viable. Focuses specifically on a rural hospital in Idaho that was on the brink of closure in 2013 and is now expanding services.
Source: Politico
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‘They’re Out There — If We Can Find Them’
Apr 12, 2017 - Explores the impact of social isolation and loneliness on health, a particular concern in rural areas and for elderly people. Isolation has been linked with higher blood pressure and increased risk for stroke and coronary heart disease. Details these concerns as well as efforts to address them in rural Maine.
Source: Politico
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Your Farm Is Trying to Kill You
Apr 12, 2017 - Delves into the dangers of farming, one of the most dangerous occupations in America, and explores some of the causes including how infrequently individual farmers update equipment and the political push from farmers against safety regulations.
Source: Politico
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In the Tennessee Delta, a Poor Community Loses Its Hospital — and Sense of Security
Apr 11, 2017 - Highlights the impact and contributing factors of rural hospital closures by looking at a rural town in Tennessee that recently lost its hospital and several surrounding hospitals. Also details the efforts and complications with trying to resurrect the hospital, find alternate healthcare solutions, and improve the health of the community.
Source: The Washington Post
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CMS' Accountable Health Communities Model Selects 32 Participants to Serve as Local ‘Hubs’ Linking Clinical and Community Services
Apr 6, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the participants in two tracks of a three-track Accountable Health Communities Model that will support local communities in addressing certain health-related social needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, including housing instability, food insecurity, utility needs, interpersonal violence, and transportation. 32 diverse organizations, from both urban and rural communities across 193 counties in 23 states, were chosen to participate in the model.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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A Conversation with Joy Williams
Apr 6, 2017 - Radio interview with Joy Williams, a 2017 Rural Health Fellow who has spent the past six years working with a faith-based organizations to improve health capacity in rural areas. Discussion includes the work done by this faith-based organization to involve churches in the health and nutrition of their congregations and their communities, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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VA Secretary Praises Congress for Extending Choice Program
Apr 5, 2017 - Press release from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expressing support for new legislation extending the Veterans Choice Program (VCP), a program which allows veterans to receive care from non-VA facilities under certain circumstances to reduce long wait times and improve access. The VCP will remain in effect until funding for the program is depleted.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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States Seek Medicaid Dollars for Addiction Treatment Beds
Apr 5, 2017 - Highlights the history of a provision prohibiting the use of federal dollars to support patients in addiction treatment facilities with more than 16 beds, which had originally been intended to encourage communities to provide care in smaller facilities. However, high demand for addiction treatment services in the midst of the opioid epidemic means that this requirement has become a barrier for those in desperate need of care. Four states have been granted a federal waiver allowing the use of Medicaid funds in larger facilities and several other states are seeking similar waivers.
Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts
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'Doctor' Robot Could Help Solve Sports-Concussion Dilemma in Rural America
Apr 4, 2017 - Explores the possibility of using remote-controlled robots to assess and treat athletes who receive concussions or other brain injuries. The technology allows neurologists or other trained medical staff to diagnose sports concussions from a distance. Research shows that doctors acting through the robots were able to diagnose concussions with the same level of accuracy as on-field, face-to-face physicians. Referred to as teleconcussion, some hope the technology will enhance concussion treatment in rural areas by allowing a single concussion specialist to cover multiple districts, and be immediately accessible when a consult is needed.
Source: Medical Xpress
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Senate Bill Would Let Medicare Test Telehealth Expansion
Apr 3, 2017 - Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced a bipartisan bill in the Senate last week that would allow Medicare to experiment with covering more telehealth services. The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act seeks to expand access to healthcare for rural patients. Under the bill, selected hospitals would be allowed to offer telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation would test the services for cost, effectiveness, and quality. (May require registration for full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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EOP: Establishing the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis Federal Register
Apr 3, 2017 - Executive order establishing the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addition and the Opioid Crisis, which will study the federal response to the opioid crisis and make recommendations to the President for improving that response. Also outlines provisions of the Commission related to membership, mission, administration, funding, reports, and termination.
Source: Federal Register
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Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West Addresses Issues Plaguing the Rural West
Mar 31, 2017 - The Stanford University Bill Lane Center for the American West recently held their 5th Annual Eccles Family Rural West Conference. This year's conference focused on addressing the urgent health needs of rural Western communities. A major theme throughout the conference was shifting from fee-for-service to health and wellness promotion, or focusing on upstream prevention rather than downstream treatment with a goal of creating a healthier rural West by focusing on health, rather than healthcare.
Source: Stanford University News
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Broadband Offers a Telehealth Lifeline to Rural Hospitals
Mar 29, 2017 - Discusses the relationship between access to high-speed, reliable broadband and the use of telemedicine in rural areas. While rural areas arguably have the most to gain from telehealth usage, they are often limited by a lack of broadband infrastructure. A recent report from NTCA — The Rural Broadband Association — highlights the potential benefits and pending challenges.
Source: mHealth Intelligence
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County Health Rankings Show Drug Overdose Deaths Are Fueling a Dramatic Increase in Premature Deaths Nationally
Mar 29, 2017 - Based on the recently released 2017 County Health Rankings, premature death rates are increasing across the U.S. among 15-44 year-olds. While many issues contribute to the increase, drug overdoses among 25-44 year olds is the primary driver. The statistics show that suburbs, smaller metro areas, and rural communities have the highest rates of premature death due to drug overdoses. Among racial groups, Native Americans and whites have the highest rates of premature death due to drug overdoses.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
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A Conversation with Peggy Wheeler
Mar 28, 2017 - Radio interview with Peggy Wheeler, the Vice President of the Rural Healthcare Center at the California Hospital Association and a committee member on the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services. Discussion includes rural hospital closures and population health efforts in small, rural facilities, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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5 States with the Most Rural Hospital Closures
Mar 27, 2017 - Lists the five states with the highest number of rural hospital closures since 2010. Research was conducted by the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, and includes the name and city of each closed hospital. Closure is defined as the cessation in the provision of inpatient services.
Source: Becker's Healthcare
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