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

Jan 27, 2023 - Montana Senate Bill 112 addresses the physician shortage by expanding the limited authority Montana gives pharmacists to prescribe medications and devices. Supporters said the measure could help fill healthcare gaps in rural areas in particular, while opponents worry it would give pharmacists physician-like authority without the same education.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Jan 26, 2023 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved several proposals for the Rural Health Care Program to make it easier for healthcare providers to receive support, reduce delays in funding commitments, and improve the efficiency of the program. Reliable high speed connectivity is important for rural healthcare providers to serve patients in rural areas that may have limited resources, fewer doctors, and higher costs for broadband and telecommunications services than urban areas.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jan 24, 2023 - In July 2022 the federal government launched the 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline, enabling people experiencing a mental health crisis to connect with professionals and services. The real launch will occur this summer, and rural communities are preparing for an increase in calls by training operators how to provide help to farmers and other rural residents.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 24, 2023 - Montana Senator Jon Tester and Arkansas Senator John Boozman introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at bolstering recruitment and retention of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinicians, particularly in rural areas. The VA Clinician Appreciation, Recruitment, Education, Expansion, and Retention Support Act would provide the VA with tools to compete for highly qualified medical personnel, support training for current and future VA clinicians, and provide more oversight and public transparency on the VA's efforts to address vacancies.
Source: Office of Senator Jon Tester
Jan 24, 2023 - From 2004 to 2014, 9% of rural counties lost all hospital obstetric services. The University of Mississippi Medical Center is providing classroom-style and real-life scenario instruction to emergency responders, nurses, and providers in small rural hospitals to prepare them for emergency situations involving pregnant mothers and their babies.
Source: Denver7
Jan 24, 2023 - Highlights a report from GoodRx Research, stating that more than 113,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) live in 492 counties that lack mental health providers. The study also found that counties with a higher population of AI/AN residents had a lower percentage of households with access to telehealth. States with the highest numbers of mental health deserts are Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Alaska. South Dakota and Alaska are among the states with highest numbers of AI/AN residents living in mental health deserts.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 22, 2023 - 13 of the 15 Iowa nursing homes that closed in 2022 were in rural areas. A nationwide nursing home workforce shortage and lack of open nursing home beds results in patients sometimes being transferred to facilities far from their hometowns, especially if they have dementia, obesity, or other conditions that require extra attention.
Source: NBC News, Kaiser Health News
Jan 20, 2023 - Montana lawmakers are considering proposals to make it easier for professionals with out-of-state licenses to work in Montana. House Bill 152 is designed to simplify the process for licensing more than 50 professions, including healthcare jobs.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Jan 20, 2023 - Discusses obstacles that transgender people living in rural areas face when seeking medical care, stating that they are three times as likely as all transgender adults to travel 25 to 49 miles for routine care. According to a 2018 pilot study almost 77% of students from 10 medical schools in New England felt "not competent" or "somewhat not competent" in treating gender minority patients.
Source: CBS News, Kaiser Health News
Jan 18, 2023 - The 2020 Families First Coronavirus Response Act temporarily required companies with fewer than 500 employees and all public employers to give workers a minimum of two weeks of paid sick leave, but the act expired at the end of 2020. Paid leave regulations vary from state to state and and workers in rural areas face even more challenges than those in cities, including greater distances to hospitals and fewer medical providers.
Source: Kaiser Health News

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