Rural Health
Top Stories

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

Q&A: What Has Health Reform Meant for Rural America?
Aug 25, 2016 - University of Washington professors Eric Larson and Davis Patterson, the director and deputy director of the WWAMI Rural Health Research Center, answer questions on recent rural health issues. Topics discussed include hospital finance and closures, workforce shortages, opioid addiction, the practical concerns related to the Affordable Care Act, community paramedicine, telemedicine, and dental health.
Source: Center for Health Journalism
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NIH Establishes New Research Program to Address Health Disparities of Chronic Diseases
Aug 24, 2016 - In an effort to provide better approaches to addressing chronic diseases among racial and ethnic minority groups, under-served rural populations, people of less privileged socio-economic status, and groups subject to discrimination who have poorer health outcomes often attributed to being socially disadvantaged, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), a part of the National Institutes of Health, is launching the Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers (TCC) for Health Disparities Research on Chronic Disease Prevention program. The centers will focus their research on the development, implementation, and dissemination of community-based interventions to combat chronic diseases which disproportionately affect health disparity populations.
Source: National Institutes of Health
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MU Graduate Student Program Improves Health Care in Rural Missouri
Aug 24, 2016 - The Health Resources and Services Administration issued a $700,000 grant for a program through the University of Missouri's graduate psychology program that will provide better access to mental healthcare in rural areas. Students are paired with rural clinicians to provide integrated healthcare to patients in these areas and rotate through partnered locations to gain a broad range of experience.
Source: The Maneater
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Top 5 Reasons Rural Hospitals Shutter OB Units
Aug 22, 2016 - Researchers at the University of Minnesota released a new study revealing that of the rural hospitals they surveyed between 2010 and 2014, 7.2% had ended their obstetrics (OB) services. Those who had were smaller, more likely to be privately owned, located in low-income areas, and more likely to be Critical Access Hospitals. Located in 9 states across the U.S., the hospitals surveyed reported that staffing, low volume, and low reimbursement rates were the top three reasons impacting the decision to close. These closures mean that women in these areas are required to travel up to 40 miles to receive obstetrics services.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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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 Policy Changes and Fiscal Year 2017 Rates; Quality Reporting Requirements for Specific Providers; Graduate Medical Education; Hospital Notification Procedures Applicable to Beneficiaries Receiving Observation Services; Technical Changes Relating to Costs to Organizations and Medicare Cost Reports; Finalization of Interim Final Rules With Comment Period on LTCH PPS Payments for Severe Wounds, Modifications of Limitations on Redesignation by the Medicare Geographic Classification Review Board, and Extensions of Payments to MDHs and Low-Volume Hospitals Federal Register
Aug 22, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced several changes to payment and reimbursement plans, including changes to the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems (IPPS) for Acute Care Hospitals, the Prospective Payment System (PPS), policy, and FY 2017 rates for Long-Term Care Hospitals, and the direct graduate medical education (GME) and indirect medical education payments. Also included are changes to the quality reporting requirements for certain providers and to the limitations on redesignation by the Medicare Geographic Classification Review Board.
Source: Federal Register
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Life Lessons from a Small-town Undertaker as White Women Die Younger in America
Aug 20, 2016 - Follows an undertaker through the death of two white women, aged 44 and 59, in rural Kentucky. In McCreary County, Kentucky, there has been a 75% increase over the last 15 years in the mortality rate for white women aged 35 to 59. To compare, national death rates for white women of similar ages have increased only 23%, for white men they have increased 16%, and have decreased for both black and Hispanic men and women.

This is the fifth installment of a multi-part series: part one, part two, part three, and part four.
Source: The Washington Post
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National Report Reveals Dire Extent of Rural OB-GYN Service Shortage
Aug 20, 2016 - In a report released last week, the Pew Charitable Trust revealed that nearly half the counties in the U.S. don't have a certified nurse-midwife or OB-GYN providing care. In New Mexico, 9 counties have no OB-GYN services, and 7 don't have a certified nurse-midwife or OB-GYN, resulting in some women having to drive up to 100 miles to get care. The report disclosed that a shortage of obstetricians nation wide is leading rural hospitals and clinics to compete for a limited number of providers. Article includes ideas for addressing the issue that are supported by The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican
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Changes to Health Care Industry Have Rural Hospitals on Edge
Aug 20, 2016 - Rural hospitals are struggling to adapt to major upheavals in healthcare service delivery, including increasing regulations and decreasing reimbursements. As a result, 76 rural hospitals have closed since 2010. This multifaceted problem is attributable to both old challenges and new, which makes it especially difficult to address and solve.
Source: Deseret News
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Reminder: Critical Access Hospitals in Counties that Changed to Urban in 2014 Must Reclassify as Rural by September 30, 2016
Aug 19, 2016 - In 2014, CMS made changes to the Inpatient Prospective Payment System which, among other changes, resulted in several Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) being located in newly-designated urban counties. CMS provided a two-year window for these facilities to maintain their CAH status in order to apply for urban to rural reclassification. The deadline for reclassification is September 30, 2016.
Source: Lexology
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HHS Awards More than $100 Million to Improve Health Center Quality
Aug 18, 2016 - Health centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the 5 U.S. territories and the 3 Freely Associated States will be receiving more than $100 million in total from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand current quality improvement systems and infrastructure and to improve primary care service delivery. Includes link to a list of the 1,304 Quality Improvement Awards recipients.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Where Insurers' Exits Are Hurting Obamacare Exchanges — And Where They Aren't
Aug 18, 2016 - Addresses concerns around the U.S. about the Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplaces in the wake of news that several larger insurance companies will be reducing their coverage areas. Health insurance analysts say that three insurers are needed in a given location for healthy competition to exist.
Source: NPR
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Rural Hospitals in Critical Condition
Aug 18, 2016 - Explores the shortage of healthcare professionals in rural communities, both in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S., and the expectation that this shortage will increase over time as need grows and new health professionals continue to be drawn to urban locations. Also discusses efforts that have been made at the federal level to address the concerns facing rural facilities and the successes of telehealth in meeting rural health needs. This story is the second part of a two-part series; the first part was published on August 11, 2016.
Source: Agri-View
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Webinar: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) - Current State, Data, Tools, and Resources
Aug 16, 2016 - The Health Resources and Services Administration is hosting a webinar on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in the United States on August 24, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. EST. The webinar will focus on the current state of COPD, the most recent data, tools and resources for providers as well as patients, and on how one rural physician is increasing access to care for COPD patients in his community.
Source: Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
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MOON Draft Available for Comment / MOON Implementation Information
Aug 16, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking comment by September 1, 2016 on revisions to the Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice (MOON) and instructions, the standard written notice that hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals are required to provide to Medicare beneficiaries after observation services are initiated.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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New Efforts Implemented to Combat Opioid Abuse
Aug 12, 2016 - Indian Health Services (IHS) has implemented a policy which will require doctors and other medical practitioners to check State Prescription Drug Monitoring Program databases before prescribing or dispensing opioids for pain treatment lasting longer than a week. Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs allow prescribing and dispensing medical practitioners to track opioid abusers and prevent them from going from doctor to doctor in an attempt to acquire more opioid pain medication. This is an especially important implementation for IHS because prescription opioid misuse is more than 2% higher among the American Indian population.
Source: Daily Lobo
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$16 Million in Funding to Improve Health Care in Rural America
Aug 11, 2016 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded more than $16 million to four grant programs: Telehealth Network Grant Program, Rural Health Research Centers, Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement, and Flex Rural Veterans Health Access Program. Administered by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP), the awards will improve access to quality health care in 60 rural communities across 32 states and support seven Rural Health Research Centers.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Kids Who Eat Government-funded School Meals at Increased Risk of Being Overweight
Aug 11, 2016 - Researchers found that children who had participated in government funded lunch programs through elementary and intermediate school years were most likely to be overweight, and students in the Northeast, South, and rural U.S. were more severely impacted.
Source: News Medical
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$10 Million in Grants Targets Community-based Efforts to Combat Chronic Diseases in the Delta Region
Aug 11, 2016 - The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy's Delta States Rural Development Network Grant Program is giving $10 million to organizations across 8 states in the Delta region to address diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, stroke, and behavioral health concerns. The program emphasizes collaborations between organizations in rural communities to tackle chronic health conditions which disproportionately affect people in this region.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Rural Hospitals in Critical Condition
Aug 11, 2016 - Explores the challenges facing rural hospitals, with 30% of the approximately 2,000 rural hospitals in the U.S. confronting the possibility of closure within the next two years. The role of the Affordable Care Act and the impact it has had on Critical Access Hospitals and their fee-for-service model is considered, but also cited as contributing factors are the struggle to retain physicians and low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. This story is the first part of a two-part series.
Source: Agri-View
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Indian Health Service Board Certifies 171 Health Aides in Alaska
Aug 10, 2016 - The Community Health Aid Program (CHAP) is designed to increase access to health workers in Alaska native communities, and many of the 489 current health aids and practitioners come from local communities in Alaska. The CHAP Certification Board, which is managed by the Alaska Area Native Health Service, one of the 12 regional offices of Indian Health Services (IHS), certified 171 behavioral health, dental health, and community health aids and practitioners recently. IHS is collaborating with tribal leaders to expand the program, which could lead to the creation of a national certification board for community health aids in the IHS system.
Source: Indian Health Service
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CMS Updates Nursing Home Five-Star Quality Ratings
Aug 10, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services updated the Nursing Home Compare Five-Star Quality Ratings in order to incorporate new measures. This program now encompasses information on successful discharges, emergency visits, and re-hospitalizations, meaning that the existing star ratings for nursing homes could change.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Prescription Drug-death Rate Grows Fastest in Rural
Aug 9, 2016 - Compares rates of prescription drug-death between rural and urban communities with a focus on opioid pain killers which, in 2014, accounted for approximately 75% of prescription drug-deaths in the U.S. Between 1999 and 2014, the drug-death rate from prescription drugs, which make up about half of all drug deaths nationwide, increased 3 times faster in rural communities than in urban areas. Also includes information on drug-death rates by county.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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When Patients Need House Calls, There May Be No Doctors Nearby
Aug 8, 2016 - Describes a recent study that found that there is a troubling shortage of home-based medical care in the U.S., a reality which is particularly concerning with baby boomers increasingly in need of home-based care. The study revealed that more than half of the country lives more than 30 miles away from full-time home-based care providers, although rural locations may be much farther, and that there are few physicians interested in providing this kind of care, at least in part because it is not high-paying, with CMS reimbursement rates varying widely depending on geographic location. (May require free subscription to view full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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UVa Researcher Examining Impact of Opioid Restrictions
Aug 8, 2016 - Virginia LeBaron, assistant professor as the University of Virginia's (UVa) School of Nursing, has received a grant from the UVa's Cancer Center to study the coincident problems of opioid abuse and chronic pain. LeBaron is interested in whether restrictions on opioid prescriptions prevent opioid abuse issues, as well as whether those same restrictions limit access to pain medication for patients who need it.
Source: The Daily Progress
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Risky Business for Rural Hospitals
Aug 8, 2016 - Explores some of the difficulties faced by hospitals and patients in rural areas of states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs, with a focus on Tennessee. Describes the efforts of one rural facility to cut costs in an attempt to avoid closure.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
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A New Brand of Doctor Targets the Unhealthy in Rural Tennessee
Aug 6, 2016 - The Cumberland Center for Healthcare Innovation is a network of affiliated, independent physicians in rural Tennessee dedicated to improving overall health outcomes for the state by targeting rural areas, which are often in great need of care. This Accountable Care Organization has already begun to see greater patient investment and increased savings for CMS and private health insurers.
Source: The Tennessean
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The Joint Commission Releases Results of VA Health Care Surveys to VA
Aug 4, 2016 - The Joint Commission released to VA leadership the results of its Special Focused Surveys of VA healthcare facilities. These surveys measured the progress the VA has made to improve care, including timely access to care, the environment and coordination of care, organizational leadership, and infection prevention and control. Press release includes link to the full report, including findings and recommendations.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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Vexing Question on Patient Surveys: Did We Ease Your Pain?
Aug 4, 2016 - Explores various points of view concerning the usage of and response to pain management questions on patient surveys. Some argue that patient satisfaction scores reflect poorly on doctors who are conservative about prescribing opioids for pain management, and have had a negative impact on individual physician's salaries, while others assert that the two are unrelated, and that proper pain management is a reasonable expectation for patients to have.
Source: The New York Times
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Alaskans Battling Opioid Epidemic Get Audience with U.S. Surgeon General
Aug 4, 2016 - U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy attended an opioid summit in Alaska aimed at updating federal officials on the state's difficulties in dealing with heroin and prescription painkiller abuse. Alaska faces unique challenges in the face of this epidemic due to their abundance of rural areas, a shortage of treatment facilities, and their high rate of veterans per capita, a segment of the population which is often dealing with more pain-related health concerns than the general public.
Source: Alaska Dispatch News
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Medicare Announces Participants in Effort to Improve Access, Quality of Care in Rural Areas
Aug 4, 2016 - In an effort to increase access to care for Medicare beneficiaries in areas of the U.S. where the distance from healthcare providers can be prohibitive to receiving care, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have announced which Critical Access Hospitals will participate in the Frontier Community Health Integration Project (FCHIP) Demonstration. These 10 hospitals are located in Montana, Nevada, and North Dakota, and will begin the demonstration in August.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Students Seek to Protect Patients, Spotlight Rural Training Options
Aug 3, 2016 - The National Congress of Student Members of the AAFP, at the National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students, met and adopted, among others, resolutions pertinent to rural health education and training. One resolution called for the development of a database of resources related to rural training, and another called for steps to mitigate the risk of closure faced by many rural osteopathic family medicine residencies.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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Senate Worried USDA’s ‘Nutritious Food’ Push Actually Hurts People On Food Stamps
Aug 3, 2016 - Many U.S. Senators are concerned about a rule proposed by the USDA that they believe would compromise the ability of small retailers to participate in the food stamps program. The rule, which would require that retailers make 85 percent of their food revenue from fresh and uncooked items, could make it more difficult for SNAP recipients in rural areas and in food deserts to access healthy food items.
Source: The Daily Caller
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FCC Connect2Health Task Force Unveils Broadband Health Mapping Tool
Aug 3, 2016 - The interactive Mapping Broadband Health in America tool, launched by the Federal Communications Commission's Connect2Health Task Force, will allow for greater, easier access to data concerning the intersection of broadband and health. Users can generate customized maps displaying specific, user-selected criteria to track particular health focuses.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
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SAMHSA: Request for Comment on Report Entitled: Advancing the Care of Pregnant and Parenting Women With Opioid Use Disorder and Their Infants: A Foundation for Clinical Guidance Federal Register
Aug 3, 2016 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is seeking comment on a report entitled: Advancing the Care of Pregnant and Parenting Women with Opioid Use Disorder and their Infants: A Foundation for Clinical Guidance. The report will serve as the foundation for the development of clinical guidance to be used by providers caring for women with opioid use disorder and their infants. Comments are due within 30 days of this notice.
Source: Federal Register
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Drones Will Begin Delivering Blood and Medicine in the US
Aug 2, 2016 - Zipline, a drone delivery company which has been used to deliver medication and blood to remote parts of Rwanda, will launch a similar program in the U.S. The program will serve rural and remote communities in Maryland, Nevada, and Washington, and will include some Native American reservations. Hospitals will be able to place an order via text message and receive up to 3 pounds of blood or medication by parachute within 30 minutes.
Source: The Verge
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Clinicians: Hear the Latest from CDC Experts on Zika Virus Prevention
Aug 2, 2016 - A webinar will be held on Thursday August 4th to update clinicians on the recent changes to the CDC's recommendations on Zika Virus Prevention.
Source: Health Resources & Services Administration
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CMS Announces next Phase in Largest-ever Initiative to Improve Primary Care in America
Aug 2, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services opened the application period for practices to participate in the new nation-wide primary care model, Comprehensive Primary Care Plus. CPC+ is a five-year primary care medical home model beginning January 2017 that will enable primary care practices to care for their patients the way they think will deliver the best outcomes and to pay them for achieving results and improving care.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Opioid Dependence Leads To ‘Tsunami’ Of Medical Services, Study Finds
Aug 2, 2016 - A study conducted by Fair Health found that opioid addiction is widespread and has rapidly increased in the past 5 years. Fair Health warns that the increase in addiction will also lead to a massive increase in the utilization of other health services.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Striving for Equity in Access to and Use of Specialty Care
Aug 1, 2016 - The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation launched a grant-making initiative in 2015 with the goal of increasing equity in access to and usage of specialty care services in the U.S. This initiative, Specialty Care for Vulnerable Populations, has funded a number of organizations which seek to address health disparities and the associated preventable deaths among low-income, minority, and rural populations.
Source: Health Affairs Blog
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Urbanization Makes Life in Rural America Risky
Aug 1, 2016 - People in rural areas are more likely to suffer from health risks, including increased rates of suicide, injury, alcohol and drug use, and obesity. Possible reasons for this include less access to care and a higher stigma related to seeking mental healthcare.
Source: Inverse
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Gangs, Sex Trafficking and Meth Interconnected in Indian Country
Aug 1, 2016 - A study out of the Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma focused on methamphetamine abuse by ten Native American tribes in the western U.S. The study found that these communities are particularly vulnerable to members from outside drug cartels due to geographic location and a lack of resources, and that the widespread use of the drug had extremely detrimental effects on the tribal communities affected.
Source: Indian Country Today Media Network
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Rural Counties Across the US Becoming a Powder Keg for HIV Outbreak
Jul 31, 2016 - In response to growing concerns about the spread of HIV/AIDS in rural counties across the U.S. due to opioid abuse and increased injected drug use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have drafted a report identifying locations most vulnerable to outbreaks.
Source: The Guardian
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Final Fiscal Year 2017 Payment and Policy Changes for Medicare Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (CMS-1647-F)
Jul 29, 2016 - Pre-publication final rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services outlining FY 2017 Medicare payment policies and rates for the Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF) Prospective Payment System and the IRF Quality Reporting Program. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on August 5, 2016.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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Electronic Health Data Exchange Eludes Small, Rural Hospitals
Jul 28, 2016 - According to the American Hospital Association's 2014-2015 health information technology survey, small, rural, and Critical Access Hospitals have lower levels of health data exchange and healthcare interoperability than large urban and suburban hospitals.
Source: Health IT Interoperability
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The Economic Despair of Middle-aged, Rural Americans is Reflected in Rising Suicide Rates
Jul 28, 2016 - The suicide rate in the United States has risen from 1999 to 2014, with the greatest increase among rural men ages 45 to 54. Middle-aged rural American women have also experienced an increase in suicide rate, which has nearly doubled since 1999. The study authors suggest that the stress of a bad economy plays a growing role in suicidal behavior.
Source: Quartz
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First Release of the CMS Hospital Quality Star Ratings on Hospital Compare
Jul 27, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released the first star ratings for overall hospital quality on the Hospital Compare website. Here we provide several news stories reporting on the release.
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SAMHSA: Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders Reporting Requirements Federal Register
Jul 26, 2016 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will solicit comments on the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use Disorders Reporting Requirements proposed rule during a public listening session on August 2, 2016. The proposed rule increases access to medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorders.
Source: Federal Register
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Local Executive Appointed to National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services
Jul 25, 2016 - Kate Rolf, president and chief executive officer of New York-based VNA Homecare, will serve a 4-year term on the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services. This is a group of 21 rural health experts who advise the Secretary of the Dept. of Health & Human Services on ways to address rural healthcare issues.
Source: Madison County Courier
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Kaiser Study: Rural Hospitals Close for Many Reasons
Jul 22, 2016 - Discusses a recent Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured report regarding reasons for closures of rural hospital. Causal factors include corporate decisions on profitability, lack of community expertise in dealing with large healthcare organizations, changes in federal reimbursement policies, and some states’ decision not to expand Medicaid.
Source: North Carolina Health News
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HHS Awards More Than $36 Million for Health Center Adoption of Health Information Technology
Jul 21, 2016 - The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will award $36 million in funding for 50 Health Center Controlled Networks in 41 states and Puerto Rico, to support health information technology.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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Data Brief: Evaluation of National Distributions of Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings
Jul 21, 2016 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has developed an Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating that reflects comprehensive quality information about the care provided at hospitals in the United States. Includes charts with star ratings for hospitals by bed size and hospital type (e.g. Critical Access Hospital, Safety-net, Disproportionate Share Hospital, etc.)
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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IHS Launches Medicaid and Medicare Enrollment Pilot at Six Facilities
Jul 20, 2016 - The Indian Health Service is promoting a pilot project to increase Medicaid and Medicare enrollment at 6 healthcare facilities in Arizona, South Dakota, Montana, and North Dakota.
Source: Indian Health Service
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Sometimes Tiny Is Just The Right Size: ‘Microhospitals’ Filling Some ER Needs
Jul 19, 2016 - Some healthcare systems are opening tiny, full-service hospitals with comprehensive emergency services but often fewer than a dozen inpatient beds. Though most are currently located in urban and suburban areas, some people suggest that facilities of this type should be developed in rural or medically underserved areas where the need for services is great.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Telemedicine to Help Rural Docs Tackle Opioid Abuse
Jul 18, 2016 - The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is launching a three-year, $9 million effort to train rural healthcare providers in medication-assistant treatment therapy. The project will use mHealth apps, online training, and specialist consults to help primary care physicians treat an estimated 20,000 residents fighting opioid addiction. The effort targets Oklahoma, Colorado, and Pennsylvania.
Source: mHealth Intelligence
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HPOE Guide Applies Research Lens to Community Health Needs Assessment Process
Jul 15, 2016 - The American Hospital Association's Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence (HPOE) has released a guide to help nonprofit hospitals further the impact of community health needs assessments (CHNAs) by applying research techniques to the CHNA process.
Source: American Hospital Association News
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USDA's Rural Housing Service Announces Creation of New Community Facilities Re-Lending Program, "Uplift America"
Jul 15, 2016 - Opinion piece about the creation of a new Community Facilities relending program, brought about to enable the USDA to provide loans to qualified re-lenders serving persistent or high poverty counties. While the National Association of Counties supports the overall goal of the program, there are major concerns over a few provisions of the interim rule.
Source: National Association of Counties
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IHS Rosebud Hospital Emergency Department to Resume Full Operations
Jul 14, 2016 - The emergency department of the Indian Health Service hospital in Rosebud, South Dakota will resume operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, beginning July 15. The department had been on diversionary status since December 5, 2015.
Source: Indian Health Service
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Despite Discord Over Funding, Congress Sends Opioid Bill To President’s Desk
Jul 14, 2016 - Collection of articles about opioid-related legislation which has been approved by the Senate but not yet funded.
Source: Kaiser Health News
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Schatz, Wicker Unveil New Rural Telehealth Proposal
Jul 14, 2016 - U.S. Senators Brian Schatz and Roger Wicker have introduced a bipartisan measure to expand access to rural telehealth services by allowing non-rural hospitals and healthcare providers that service rural areas to make better use of the FCC's Healthcare Connect Fund.
Source: Office of U.S. Senator Brian Schatz
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Rural Healthcare Grants Tackle Population Health Management
Jul 14, 2016 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently announced millions of dollars in grant funding to rural healthcare organizations and academic centers, in an effort to expand training and education for healthcare providers, jumpstart population health management programs, and support delivery of high quality patient care.
Source: HealthIT Analytics
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USDA Funds 81 Distance Learning and Telemedicine Projects in 32 States
Jul 14, 2016 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) will fund projects to help connect rural communities with medical and educational experts in other parts of the country, increasing access to healthcare, substance misuse treatment, and advanced educational opportunities.
Source: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
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Governors Sign Compact to Fight Opioid Addiction
Jul 13, 2016 - Forty-six governors signed a compact in which they agree to take steps to reduce inappropriate prescribing, help change the nation's understanding of opioids and addiction, and support recovery efforts for people suffering from addiction.
Source: National Governors Association
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Sen. Franken Continues Push to Improve Health Care for Millions of Rural Americans
Jul 13, 2016 - U.S. Senator Al Franken introduced a legislative package to address barriers rural Americans face in accessing quality healthcare. The three bills relate to transportation options, comprehensive reforms to strengthen the rural healthcare workforce, and reforms in healthcare delivery and payment systems.
Source: Office of U.S. Senator Al Franken
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Should Nurse Licenses Hold Across States?
Jul 13, 2016 - Arizona has enacted legislation to enter the Nurse Licensure Compact with 7 other states, thus allowing nurses to practice medicine in any state that is part of the arrangement without obtaining additional licenses. Advocates say the new approach helps ease nursing shortages, but some local governments are hesitant to lose revenue from licensing fees, and nursing unions worry about inconsistent state licensure regulations.
Source: Hospitals & Health Networks
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BREAKING: Slavitt Suggests MACRA Could Be Delayed
Jul 13, 2016 - CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt testified before the Senate Finance Committee saying that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is considering a delay to the start date for changes related to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), citing concern for the ability of small and rural practices to adapt to required changes. (May require free subscription to view full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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Corporate Business Plans, Not Local Need, Drive Hospital Closures, Report Says
Jul 13, 2016 - A report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation that examined the cause of recent closures of rural healthcare facilities, citing that some closures were because of business interests, but decisions lacked consideration for community needs or public input. The study examined three communities in Kansas, Kentucky, and South Carolina that lost their Critical Access Hospitals in 2015.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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Support, Flexibility at Home, Work Vital to Success in Rural Practice
Jul 12, 2016 - Opinion piece by a female physician, describing the challenges and rewards to be found in rural practice.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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New Program Offers Narcan at Tribal Clinics to Address Overdoses
Jul 12, 2016 - In response to an increase in opioid overdoses among members of Maine's five Native American tribes, the tribes have been targeted as part of the new Wabanaki Pathway to Hope and Healing initiative, which includes Take Home Naloxone programs in each of the tribal clinics.
Source: Bangor Daily News
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Rural Healthcare Providers Boosted by $1.8 Million in Funding for 2016
Jul 11, 2016 - The Office of Rural Health Policy announced that nine providers will each receive approximately $200,000 in funding for 2016, beginning August 1. Funding for subsequent years will depend on availability of funds, satisfactory performance, and a decision that continued funding is in the best interest of the federal government.
Source: Healthcare Finance
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Final Rule Expanding Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment
Jul 11, 2016 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a final rule expanding access to buprenorphine by increasing the number of opioid-dependent patients practitioners are allowed to treat. The new regulation will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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In Southwest New Mexico, a Public Health Clinic Offers a Model for Rural Care
Jul 10, 2016 - Describes the variety of programs and successes of Hidalgo Medical Services in delivering high quality and affordable healthcare services to people in rural New Mexico.
Source: InsuranceNewsNet
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The House Passes CARA Bill To Combat Opioid Epidemic In Sweeping 407-5 Vote
Jul 9, 2016 - Reports the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) through the U.S. House of Representatives on July 9, 2016. While the amount of funding for the bill is yet unknown, the legislation is designed to increase services for and fill gaps in substance abuse treatment, as well as provide other support in the fight against opioid abuse.
Source: Forbes
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Gov. Bullock Announces Changes to State Health Care Plan
Jul 8, 2016 - As a way to control rising healthcare costs, Montana is changing the way the state pays for health services by adopting a transparent pricing model. A majority of the state's hospitals, large and small, have agreed to participate in the program which will base pricing on 2014 Medicare costs.
Source: Billings Gazette
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Jenkins, Sánchez Introduce The Rural ACO Provider Equity Act
Jul 8, 2016 - Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Linda Sánchez (D-CA) have introduced the Rural ACO Provider Equity Act to remove barriers that make it difficult for Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.
Source: Office of Representative Lynn Jenkins
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HHS: Request for Information: Opioid Analgesic Prescriber Education and Training Opportunities To Prevent Opioid Overdose and Opioid Use Disorder Federal Register
Jul 8, 2016 - This request for information seeks comment on the most promising approaches in prescriber education and effective ways to leverage U.S. Department of Health and Human Services programs to implement and expand them. Comments are due by September 6, 2016.
Source: Federal Register
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HHS: Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders Federal Register
Jul 8, 2016 - This final rule increases access to treatment with buprenorphine and buprenorphine/naloxone, allows eligible practitioners to request approval to treat up to 275 patients, and includes requirements to minimize the risk that medications provided for treatment will be misused or diverted. This rule is effective August 8, 2016.
Source: Federal Register
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Death Toll Mounts 7 Months After ER Shuttered
Jul 7, 2016 - The director of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Ambulance Service reports that nine people have died in their ambulances since December, when the Rosebud IHS Hospital's emergency department was closed and patients have needed to be diverted to other hospitals up to 55 miles away.
Source: Argus Leader
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Ways and Means Takes Action to Support Rural Hospitals & Hold IRS Accountable to Taxpayers
Jul 7, 2016 - The Ways and Means Committee passed the Continuing Access to Hospitals Act of 2016, which provides an extension for the enforcement instruction of supervision requirements for outpatient therapeutic services in Critical Access Hospitals and small rural hospitals through 2016.
Source: Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives
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IHS Issues New Policy Ensuring Modern, Functional Medical Equipment
Jul 7, 2016 - The Indian Health Service (IHS) established a new policy standardizing and clarifying the minimum standards for medical equipment management, purchase, maintenance, and replacement at IHS facilities.
Source: Indian Health Service
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Commission on Care
Jul 7, 2016 - Press release announcing the final report of the Commission on Care, examining how best to organize the Veterans Health Administration, locate health resources, and deliver healthcare to veterans over the next 20 years.
Source: Commission on Care
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Think Tank Explores Innovations in Rural Healthcare Environments
Jul 6, 2016 - A one-day think tank held at the University of Kansas in March brought together about 100 healthcare providers, policymakers, and designers, where they outlined specific research issues about how innovative design solutions can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of rural healthcare systems. Panel discussions focused on healthcare system challenges and opportunities, policy implications for rural healthcare, and the role of innovation and technology in rural healthcare.
Source: Healthcare Design
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Bipartisan Bill Would Extend Moratorium on Direct Supervision Through 2016
Jul 6, 2016 - Legislation has been introduced in the Senate to extend enforcement delay on direct supervision requirements for outpatient therapeutic services in Critical Access Hospitals and rural prospective payment system hospitals with 100 or fewer beds.
Source: American Hospital Association News
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FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Takes More Actions to Address the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic
Jul 6, 2016 - The Obama Administration is taking actions to combat the heroin epidemic, including expanding telemedicine in rural areas and funding rural healthcare facilities, thus providing communities with much-needed services.
Source: The White House, Office of the Press Secretary
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Families In Rural Areas Using Telemedicine For Psychiatric, Specialty Care
Jul 5, 2016 - The University of Missouri provides psychiatric and counseling services via telemedicine to patients throughout the state, thus increasing access for rural families who might otherwise have to travel long distances for treatment. This has been especially valuable for children and adolescents, as the average age of patients in this program is 16.
Source: Forbes
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Speak Your Piece: The True Cost of Rural Hospital Closures
Jul 5, 2016 - Opinion piece by a Washington physician, drawing attention to the detrimental effect that rural hospital closures have on small-town economies.
Source: Rural Roads via The Daily Yonder
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With Hospitals in Critical Condition, Can Rural America Survive?
Jul 5, 2016 - Nearly 30 percent of the country's rural hospitals are at risk of closing in the next two years. Though rural hospitals have faced closure threats before, this time the challenges run deeper, and call into question whether rural areas themselves can survive in the absence of hospitals.
Source: Governing
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Bipartisan Bill Would Extend Moratorium on Direct Supervision Through 2016
Jul 1, 2016 - Legislation has been introduced to extend enforcement delay on direct supervision requirements for outpatient therapeutic services in Critical Access Hospitals and rural prospective payment system hospitals with 100 or fewer beds.
Source: American Hospital Association News
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HRSA: Lists of Designated Primary Medical Care, Mental Health, and Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas Federal Register
Jul 1, 2016 - This notice advises the public of the published lists of all geographic areas, population groups, and facilities designated as primary medical care, mental health, and dental health professional shortage areas as of May 13, 2016, available on the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) website.
Source: Federal Register
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USDA Announces Telemedicine Funding to Address Opioid Epidemic in Appalachia
Jun 30, 2016 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced five Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant awards to provide treatment for the opioid epidemic in rural central Appalachia. This includes $1.4 million for projects in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Source: United States Dept. of Agriculture
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Community College Will Offer Master's Degree
Jun 30, 2016 - Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado will begin offering a master's degree in the Physician Assistant program, beginning in 2017. There are already more than 1,000 applicants for 32 available spots.
Source: 9News
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Report Highlights Cost Estimates for Training Residents in a Teaching Health Center
Jun 30, 2016 - A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined the cost of training residents at Teaching Health Centers across the country. The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program was started in 2010 in an effort to increase the number of primary care providers being trained in community-based settings and practicing in rural and underserved areas. The program is set to expire in September 2017.
Source: The American Association of Teaching Health Centers
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Small Towns, Big Change
Jun 30, 2016 - Series of articles focusing on the health and well-being people and communities in rural parts of Colorado and New Mexico. Includes articles on maintaining access to emergency mental health services, a telemedicine program focused on helping rural stroke patients, rural hospital collaborations, and more.
Source: High Country News
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NRHA Members, Staff Participate in Democratic Rural Summit
Jun 29, 2016 - Synopsis of the Senate Democratic Steering & Outreach Committee’s Rural Summit on the opioid crisis and other rural health issues.
Source: NRHA Rural Health Voices blog
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Give Back: Making a Plea for Family Medicine Preceptors
Jun 28, 2016 - AAFP blog piece on the importance of community preceptor sites in order to adequately train physicians to treat the full range medicine and overcome the shortage of family medicine physicians. Written by Dr. John Cullen, a family physician in Valdez, Alaska.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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Astounding Nurse-Interpreters Save Patients and Doctors
Jun 27, 2016 - A 50-bed hospital in Bethel, Alaska is using Native nurses to care for patients and act as cultural interpreters for non-Native doctors who may not pick up on the cultural nuances of many of their patients.
Source: Indian Country Today Media Network
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