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Rural Health
Top Stories

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

Suicide Increasing Among American Workers
Nov 15, 2018 - Highlights the findings of a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) which found that the suicide rate among the US working age population increased 34% during 2000-2016. This new report replaces a retracted report that mistakenly classified farmers, which led to errors in reported suicide numbers and rates by occupational group.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Rural Americans More Likely to Die from Preventable Causes
Nov 15, 2018 - Blog post from the National Conference of State Legislatures celebrating National Rural Health Day and drawing attention to rural health disparities. Although the country as a whole has seen declines in four of five leading causes of death, that decline is slower in rural areas. Rural people experience higher death rates from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke.
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures Blog
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How Hospitals Are Prioritizing Behavioral Health and Affordable Medication in Rural Communities
Nov 15, 2018 - Highlights two rural hospitals and the work they're doing. One integrated behavioral and physical health services in rural Montana. The other improves access to prescription medications through collaboration in rural Virginia.
Source: American Hospital Association
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On National Rural Health Day, We Recommit to Improving Rural Health
Nov 15, 2018 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma on National Rural Health Day, the challenges and strengths in rural health, and CMS's contributions to rural health, including the agency's Rural Health Strategy.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Blog
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USDA Invests to Improve Rural Health Care for Nearly 2 Million Rural Americans
Nov 15, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $501 million to improve rural healthcare infrastructure and services in 34 states. This funding comes through the Community Facilities direct loan program and will fund 60 projects, expanding access to healthcare for approximately 2 million people.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Celebrating National Rural Health Day: Highlighting Policy and Research
Nov 15, 2018 - Blog post from Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D. on National Rural Health Day, the Rural Health Research Centers, and some of their recent, rural-specific studies and policy briefs.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Blog
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USDA Partners with Communities to Bring High-Speed Broadband e-Connectivity Infrastructure to Rural Areas
Nov 13, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the investment of $91 million for 19 projects funded through the Telecommunications Programs. The projects aim to improve e-Connectivity for more than 27,000 businesses and households in rural communities in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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CMS Announces New Medicaid Demonstration Opportunity to Expand Mental Health Treatment Services
Nov 13, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced existing and new opportunities for states to design innovative service delivery systems for adults with serious mental illness (SMI) and children with serious emotional disturbance (SED). This includes the ability for states to receive authority to pay for short-term resident treatment services in an institution for mental disease (IMD).
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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CMS: Medicare and Medicaid Programs: CY 2019 Home Health Prospective Payment System Rate Update and CY 2020 Case-Mix Adjustment Methodology Refinements; Home Health Value-Based Purchasing Model; Home Health Quality Reporting Requirements; Home Infusion Therapy Requirements; and Training Requirements for Surveyors of National Accrediting Organizations Federal Register
Nov 13, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has issued a final rule with comment period to update the home health prospective payment system (HH PPS) rates effective for services provided beginning January 1, 2019. Among many other things, the rule also finalizes the methodology for determining rural add-on payments for calendar years 2019-2022 and finalizes the definition of "remote patient monitoring" and recognizes it as an allowable administrative cost. Comments on the final rule are due by December 31, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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Don’t Try to Fit Rural Health Into an Urban Box
Nov 12, 2018 - Blog post from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), written by Melissa Bosworth, the executive director of the Eastern Plains Healthcare Consortium, a five-hospital collaborative in the rural West. Looks at systemic barriers faced in rural areas and includes recommendations for improving rural health access and equity
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Culture of Health Blog
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A Conversation with Kristine Sande
Nov 12, 2018 - Radio interview with Kristine Sande, the Program Director of the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub) and an Associate Director at the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health. Discussion includes National Rural Health Day, the importance of sharing positive rural health stories, and the work and resources of the RHIhub, including the topic guide on the Rural Response to the Opioid Crisis and how rural organizations can use to to help address the opioid crisis, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Should Childhood Trauma Be Treated As A Public Health Crisis?
Nov 9, 2018 - Discusses findings from a new study that suggests that it could be more effective to approach childhood trauma as a public health concern than to limit treatment to individuals. The study drew on the experiences of participants in a study that followed 1,420 children from mostly rural parts of western North Carolina, including a high number of Native American participants, over 22 years. Researchers found a clear connection between childhood trauma and adult hardships.
Source: NPR
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Better Broadband Needed to Meet Telehealth Needs, USDA Report Warns
Nov 8, 2018 - Summarizes a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture which found that rural residents lagged behind urban residents in various types of telehealth usage. It also found that in order to meet future telehealth demand, wider availability of high-quality broadband would be necessary.
Source: Healthcare Dive
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Quality Payment Program (QPP) Year 1 Performance Results
Nov 8, 2018 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on the performance results of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) under the Quality Payment Program (QPP). Touches on the Small, Underserved, and Rural Support initiative.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Blog
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A Conversation with Hilda Heady
Nov 8, 2018 - Radio interview with Hilda Heady, a rural health and veterans' advocate. Discussion covers healthcare for rural veterans, including considerations for minority, female, and homeless veterans, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Too Few Doctors and Nurses for Veterans in Some Areas
Nov 7, 2018 - Discusses physician vacancies at VA facilities around the country, which can cause long wait times for care. Some of the highest vacancy rates are in highly rural states, where recruiting physicians is already difficult. There are 40,000 vacancies around the country, but the VA is prioritizing filling primary care, internist, women's health, and mental health positions first.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
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How Hospitals Can Tackle The Maternal Mortality Crisis
Nov 6, 2018 - Discusses maternal mortality trends in the U.S. and features an interview with one of the authors of a recent essay in the New England Journal of Medicine arguing that preparing for three common complications during childbirth can make a significant difference in these numbers. Touches on the increased difficulty for rural providers with fewer resources.
Source: NPR
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Rural American Hospitals Are Not Prepared for the Rise in Babies Born with Opioid Withdrawal
Nov 5, 2018 - Highlights the results of a new study on opioid use disorder (OUD) during pregnancy. Both maternal OUD and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) are increasing disproportionately among rural residents. This is complicated by the fact that fewer than half of rural county hospitals offer obstetric care, and higher-acuity care is frequently not available.
Source: Quartz
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CMS Finalizes Rule that Encourages More Choices and Lower Costs for Seniors
Nov 2, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule related to the Hospital Outpatient Prospective System (OPPS) and Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System. This final rule aims to strengthen the Medicare program by providing seniors with more choices and lower cost options. A fact sheet on this final rule is available.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Public Inspection: CMS: Medicare Program; Revisions to Payment Policies under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other Revisions to Part B for CY 2019; Medicare Shared Savings Program Requirements; Quality Payment Program; Medicaid Promoting Interoperability Program; Quality Payment Program--Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstance Policy for the 2019 MIPS Payment Year; Provisions from the Medicare Shared Savings Program--Accountable Care Organizations--Pathways to Success; and Expanding the Use of Telehealth Services for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder under the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act Federal Register
Nov 2, 2018 - Pre-publication notice from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of a final rule and interim final rule to address changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and other Medicare Part B payment policies and finalize policies included in the interim final rule entitled "Medicare Program; CY 2018 Updates to the Quality Payment Program; and Quality Payment Program: Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstance Policy for the Transition Year" to address the uncontrollable circumstances that MIPS eligible clinicians faced due to hurricanes in calendar year 2017. Also addresses some of the changes proposed in the Medicare Shared Savings Program for Accountable Care Organizations that were included in the August 2018 proposed rule. Finally, the interim final rule implements changes to permissible telehealth originating sites for treatment of a substance use disorder or co-occurring mental health disorder for telehealth services furnished on or after July 1, 2019. Comments are due by December 31, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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Public Inspection: CMS: Medicare Program: Changes to Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Systems and Quality Reporting Programs Federal Register
Nov 2, 2018 - Pre-publication notice from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of a final rule with comment period to revise the Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and the Medicare Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) payment system for calendar year 2019. Among other things, this final rule updates the requirements for the Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) program and the ASC Quality Reporting program, as well as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Survey to remove communication about pain questions. The final rule is effective on January 1, 2019 and comments are due by December 3, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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Trump Administration Announces Decline in Veteran Homelessness
Nov 1, 2018 - Details the results of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Annual Homeless Assessment Report, which found that the total number of veterans experiencing homelessness in 2018 decreased 5.4% from last year and has fallen to almost half of the number reported in 2010. Local estimates of veteran homelessness are available.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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CMS Finalizes Changes to Advance Innovation, Restore Focus on Patients
Nov 1, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized rules related to the 2019 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and the Quality Payment Program (QPP). Fact sheets on the PFS final rule and the QPP final rule are available. CMS also updated some policies related to Medicare's Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) program, although broader reforms to the ACO program were proposed in a separate rule.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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CMS Finalizes Policies to Modernize and Drive Innovation in Durable Medical Equipment (DME) and End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Programs
Nov 1, 2018 - In an effort to increase patient access to items and services, drive competition, and increase affordability, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized release a final rule that makes changes to the Medicare payment rules for Durable Medical Equipment Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) and the End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) programs. A fact sheet on this final rule is available.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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The 2020 Census and American Indian and Alaska Native Areas
Nov 1, 2018 - Blog post from the U.S. Census Bureau about challenges associated with conducting the census in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. Touches on collaborations between the Census Bureau and AI/AN tribes to overcome these challenges and get an accurate count so that these communities are able to receive the federal funding they are eligible for.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Blog
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IHS Announces a New Policy to Expand Access to Medication Assisted Treatment in Remote Locations
Nov 1, 2018 - Blog post from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the Indian Health Service's (IHS) new Internet Eligible Controlled Substance Provider Designation policy. This policy allows IHS, tribal, and urban Indian organization healthcare providers the opportunity to provide medication assisted treatment through telemedicine in an effort to improve access to treatment for opioid use disorder for American Indian and Alaska Native people in rural and remote areas.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Blog
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CMS: Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), Medicaid Fee-For-Service, and Medicaid Managed Care Programs for Years 2020 and 2021 Federal Register
Nov 1, 2018 - Notice of proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to revise the Medicare Advantage (MA) program (Part C) regulations and Prescription Drug Benefit program (Part D). The revisions would implement certain provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, improve quality and accessibility, clarify program integrity policies, and reduce burden on providers, MA plans, and Part D sponsors, among other things. Includes information about MA plans offering telehealth benefits beginning in plan year 2020 and other rural considerations throughout. Comments on the proposed rule are due within 60 days of publication of this notice in the Federal Register, which is scheduled for November 1, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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'OSU and the Cherokee Nation Will Grow Our Own Doctors': First Tribally Affiliated Medical School in U.S. To Open in 2020
Oct 31, 2018 - Discusses the impact of the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation, the first tribally associated medical school in the country. This med school will focus on the education of primary care physicians with an interest in providing care to tribal and rural populations in Oklahoma. An inaugural class of 50 students will begin in August 2020.
Source: Tulsa World
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Long Stigmatized, Methadone Clinics Multiply in Some States
Oct 31, 2018 - Discusses the use of and need for methadone clinics to provide treatment for some people struggling with opioid misuse disorder, comparing access to these clinics between states. Many states have made a concerted effort to improve access in rural and suburban areas in response to the opioid crisis, while other states remain skeptical.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
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CMS Takes Action to Modernize Medicare Home Health
Oct 31, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized changes to the Home Health Prospective Payment System in an effort to improve access to solutions via remote patient monitoring technology, update payments for home healthcare with a new case-mix system, begin the new home infusion therapy benefit, and reduce burden. A fact sheet on this final rule is available.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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USDA Announces Funding to Increase Access to Education, Workforce Training and Health Care Opportunities in Rural Communities
Oct 31, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $39.6 million in funding for 128 projects to increase access to job training, educational, and healthcare services in rural areas. Funding for these projects comes from the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. More than 4.5 million residents in 40 states and three territories will benefit from the funding.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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USDA and ONDCP Unveil Latest Tool to Help Rural Communities Address the Opioid Epidemic
Oct 30, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) have released the Rural Resource Guide to Help Communities Address Substance Use Disorder and Opioid Misuse, a list of federal programs that can be used to build resilient communities and address opioid misuse in rural areas.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Accessing Health Care in Rural America
Oct 30, 2018 - Discusses barriers to accessing healthcare in rural areas as well as a number of ways that rural communities have addressed access issues. Touches on the demand for healthcare professionals, telehealth, transportation, hospital and obstetric department closures, and Community Health Workers (CHWs), among other things.
Source: U.S. News and World Report
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Research Brief: Opioid-Affected Births to Rural Residents Are Increasing in Both Rural and Urban Hospitals
Oct 29, 2018 - Details a recent study from the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center. This study looked at where rural mothers with opioid use disorder gave birth and examined the characteristics of opioid-affected births to rural mothers based on whether they occurred in rural hospitals, urban non-teaching hospitals, or urban teaching hospitals.
Source: University of Minnesota
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A Sense of Alarm as Rural Hospitals Keep Closing
Oct 29, 2018 - Discusses the issue of rural hospital closures, including contributing factors and the impact closures can have on health in the affected communities. In every year since 2011, more hospitals have closed than opened.
Source: The New York Times
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A Conversation with Dave Conejo
Oct 29, 2018 - Radio interview with David Conejo, the CEO of Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services (RMCHCS) in Gallup, New Mexico. Discussion includes the work of RMCHCS, including efforts to combat substance abuse, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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A Rural Community Decided To Treat Its Opioid Problem Like A Natural Disaster
Oct 28, 2018 - Details the efforts of Washington's Snohomish County to address the opioid epidemic. This rural county is the first in the country to respond to the crisis like a natural disaster, inspired by their experience with responding to the 2014 landslide in Oso, Washington.
Source: NPR
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Seniors In The Deep South And Rural Western States Prescribed Most Benzodiazepines And Opioids
Oct 26, 2018 - Details a new University of Michigan study which found that older male doctors in the South and in rural Western states are prescribing high numbers of sedatives and opioids to seniors. The highest intensity prescribing was in Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, Florida, and Louisiana. The study seems to indicate that these doctors are medicating older patients' distress, but potentially contributing to the shorter life expectancy in these areas.
Source: Forbes
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IHS Quality Program Focuses on Patient-Centered, Safe Health Care
Oct 26, 2018 - Blog post from the Indian Health Service (IHS) for National Health Care Quality Week. Discusses IHS programs designed to provide quality, patient-centered, safe, and reliable healthcare for American Indian and Alaska Native people using IHS healthcare programs.
Source: Indian Health Service Blog
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CMS Proposes to Modernize Medicare Advantage, Expand Telehealth Access for Patients
Oct 26, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that would allow Medicare Advantage and Part D program plans to cover additional telehealth benefits. Other changes aim to make it easier for enrollees in certain Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans to navigate the system, improve program integrity, require plans to more seamlessly integrate benefits across two programs, and help CMS recover improper payments made to Medicare Advantage organizations.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Justice Department’s Criminal Division Creates Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force to Focus on Illegal Opioid Prescriptions
Oct 25, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the formation of the Appalachian Regional Prescription Opioid Strike Force (ARPO Strike Force). This strike force will identify and investigate healthcare fraud schemes in the Appalachian region and surrounding areas, and prosecute medical professionals and others involved in the illegal prescription and distribution of opioids. This is a collaboration of the Health Care Fraud Unit in the Criminal Division's Fraud Section (HCF Unit), the U.S. Attorney's Offices for nine federal districts in five states, as well as law enforcement partners at the FBI, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Source: U.S. Department of Justice
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US Health Chief Says Overdose Deaths Beginning to Level Off
Oct 23, 2018 - Discusses comments from the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on opioid overdose death rates. While not yet decreasing, preliminary numbers suggest that opioid death rates are increasing at a slower rate, which could be a sign that efforts to address the opioid crisis are beginning to work.
Source: Associated Press
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Wages Are Higher in Urban Areas, But Growing Faster in Rural Ones
Oct 23, 2018 - Looks at data related to wages in urban and rural areas across the country. While wages tend to be higher in urban areas, large rural communities, especially those adjacent to urban areas, tend to have high wages as well. Rural communities have also seen significantly faster growth. The smallest and most isolated rural places tended to have the highest wage growth.
Source: City Lab
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CMS Model Addresses Opioid Misuse among Expectant and New Mothers
Oct 23, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the Maternal Opioid Misuse (MOM) model, which works to coordinate care of pregnant and postpartum Medicaid beneficiaries with opioid use disorder (OUD). The CMS Innovation Center will execute up to 12 cooperative agreements with states whose Medicaid agencies will implement the model over five years.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Trump Administration Announces State Relief and Empowerment Waivers to Give States the Flexibility to Lower Premiums and Increase Choices for Their Health Insurance Markets
Oct 22, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have released new guidance for states allowing them to move their insurance markets away from certain rules and regulations in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in an effort to increase choice and competition. States will be able to pursue new State Relief and Empowerment Waivers to make these changes.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Community Health Workers Can Reduce Hospitalizations by 65 Percent and Double Patient Satisfaction with Primary Care
Oct 22, 2018 - Details the results of a new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. It found that Community Health Workers (CHWs) can help reduce hospital stays by 65% and double the rate of patient satisfaction with primary care.
Source: Penn Medicine News
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Public Health in Indian Country Capacity Scan
Oct 19, 2018 - The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) announced the Public Health in Indian Country Capacity Scan (PHICCS), an effort to increase the knowledge of Tribal and federal health leaders and advocates through the creation and dissemination of a national-level, comprehensive profile of the public health system and infrastructure in Indian Country. To support this work, NIHB is requesting 261 Tribal health directors from Tribal health departments/entities representing 573 federally-recognized tribes from 35 states to participate. To learn more and to receive instructions on completing the web-based scan, join the pre-launch webinar on Wednesday, October 31, 2018.
Source: National Indian Health Board
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A Rural Colorado Coal County Was Struggling. Then A Tech Company Brought New Jobs
Oct 19, 2018 - Discusses the positive impact of a local company working to expand broadband and hiring laid off coal miners in a rural Colorado town. Not only did it prevent many miners from having to leave the town, it improved the broadband infrastructure of the town, bringing in newcomers and providing more economic opportunity for existing residents.
Source: NPR
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Rural Americans Are Now The Largest Slice Of Federal Food Aid Recipients
Oct 18, 2018 - According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, since 2012 rural areas and small towns under 2,500 people have the highest rates of participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Rates used to be higher in urban areas. Nationally, 16% of households in rural areas use SNAP versus 13% in urban areas.
Source: HPPR
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Rural Pharmacies Are Closing: Where Does That Leave Patients?
Oct 17, 2018 - Discusses rural pharmacy closures and the wide-reaching impact these closures can have on their communities. Also touches on some of the causes of closures including bigger chain pharmacies and low reimbursement rates.
Source: U.S. News and World Report
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Culturally Appropriate Mental Health Care to Address American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Mental Health Disparities
Oct 17, 2018 - Blog post from the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities on the mental health needs of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people as well as the importance of culturally competent assessment and care. Discusses mental health disparities, historical trauma, and discrimination.
Source: National Partnership for Action Blog
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As Fertility Rates Fall in U.S., Gap Widens Between Rural and Urban Counties
Oct 17, 2018 - Highlights the results of a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on fertility rates in the U.S. Rural areas have been associated with higher fertility rates and worse birth outcomes than urban or suburban areas. The age at which women first become mothers has risen across the board, but a gap remains between urban and rural areas. In 2017, the average for rural counties was 24.5 years of age and the average for urban was 27.7 years of age.
Source: U.S. News and World Report
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The Drive To Quality And Access In Rural Health
Oct 17, 2018 - Focuses on the role quality measurement plays for rural participation in quality improvement initiatives and the relationship between access to care and quality in rural areas. Features the efforts of the National Quality Forum's Measure Applications Partnership Rural Health Workgroup, which recently identified a core set of quality measures to help address the unique needs of rural providers.
Source: Health Affairs Blog
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How Fentanyl Changes the Opioid Equation
Oct 17, 2018 - Reports on the growing impact that fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are having on the opioid crisis, challenges in detecting fentanyl, and the dangers it poses due to its lethality and role in overdose outbreaks.
Source: Stateline
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Stigma Surrounds Addiction Treatment for Pregnant People in Indian Country
Oct 16, 2018 - Discusses the issue of opioid misuse disorder among pregnant women on Native American reservations and the stigma related to seeking treatment while pregnant. The rate of drug-related deaths among Native Americans and Alaska Natives is nearly twice that of the general population and in 2015 they had the highest rates of death from drug overdose of any ethnicity. Also touches on efforts on reservations in Minnesota and Wisconsin to address these issues.
Source: Rewire.News
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America’s Worsening Geographic Inequality
Oct 16, 2018 - Discusses the growing divide between "prosperous" neighborhoods and "at-risk" neighborhoods, focusing on where these communities tend to be located. Affluent neighborhoods were concentrated in the north and east, while the south and east had the largest concentrations of distressed communities. Additionally, rural areas were the most unstable, with 30% experiencing downward mobility, 27% experiencing upward mobility, and only about 40% remaining stable.
Source: City Lab
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Drone Ambulances to the Rescue
Oct 16, 2018 - Focuses on a Mississippi-based team of doctors working on using drones as aerial ambulances carrying medical kits to allow people on the ground to provide simple medical care until emergency services arrive. The kits will also include an augmented reality interface that will allow doctors to observe the medical emergency remotely and help provide care. Kits have been designed in varying sizes and complexities, with smaller kits for search-and-rescue missions in remote areas and larger kits for natural disasters and other mass-casualty events.
Source: Next Avenue
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USDA Partners to Help Rural Leaders Build Strategies to Achieve Prosperity
Oct 16, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finalized four cooperative agreements through the Rural Development Innovation Center's Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI) initiative. These partnerships are designed to help rural communities create and implement economic development plans.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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NPR Poll: Rural Americans Are Worried About Addiction And Jobs, But Remain Optimistic
Oct 16, 2018 - Details the findings of a new poll on Life in Rural America from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Questions included the biggest problems facing rural people and their families, their optimism about the future, economic and health concerns, the opioid epidemic, and more.
Source: NPR
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County Teams with Co-op to Bring Telemedicine to Veterans
Oct 15, 2018 - Describes a collaboration between a rural Kentucky county's library, a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital, and a rural telecom cooperative to offer medical services to veterans using telemedicine. The service, called the "Virtual Living Room," allows veterans to use the library's computers and broadband internet, provided by the co-op, to connect with their doctors at the VA hospital.
Source: National Association of Counties
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Reflecting on One Year of Innovation at Rural Development
Oct 12, 2018 - Blog post from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development. Discusses the Rural Development Innovation Center, created one year ago, and its work in rural areas related to disaster recovery, rural access to capital, data analytics, economic development, workforce development, and the opioid crisis, among other things.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Blog
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Decimated by Hurricanes, Rural America Needs Our Help
Oct 11, 2018 - Opinion piece discussing the need for better and more proactive policies to protect vulnerable rural areas along the coast from inland flooding caused by hurricanes, with a focus on North Carolina.
Source: The New York Times
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Compassion, Faith Drive FPOY to Help Patients, Community
Oct 11, 2018 - Will Cooke, M.D. has been named the American Academy of Family Physicians 2019 Family Physician of the Year. Provides highlights from his career, including his work with HIV/AIDS patients and how he helped his community of Austin, IN during the worst drug-related HIV outbreak in the United States.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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FPs Are Answer to Rural Maternity Care Crisis
Oct 10, 2018 - Blog post by Dr. John Cullen, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, sharing his experience in providing obstetrical care as a rural family physician in Alaska. Stresses the importance of family physicians and OB/Gyns working together in order to reverse trends in rural maternal and infant mortality.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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From a Physician Assistant in Fairbanks to a Vending Machine in Interior Alaska: Witnessing Tribal Health Solutions Firsthand
Oct 9, 2018 - Blog post, written by Eric Hargan, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, detailing a tour of several Alaskan communities to learn about how healthcare is delivered in remote parts of the state through telehealth services, vending machines that dispense medications, and through the use of community health aids.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Indian Health Service Provider Vacancies a ‘Never-ending Cycle’
Oct 8, 2018 - Discusses a recent Government Accountability Office report examining causes of and potential solutions to high staff vacancy rates at Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities.
Source: High Country News
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Strengthening Health and Health Care in Rural America
Oct 4, 2018 - Blog post from the Commonwealth Fund written by Mary Wakefield. Discusses the history of rural health, the present and future health needs in rural communities, and the efforts of the Commonwealth Fund to improve rural health both in the past and looking forward. Includes considerations around payment policy, healthcare delivery, healthcare workforce, community partnerships, and research.
Source: To The Point, The Commonwealth Fund
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New Community Assessment Tool Enables for the First Time an In-Depth, County-by-County, Look at Impact of Opioid Epidemic Across Entire United States
Oct 4, 2018 - Press release from NORC at the University of Chicago and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the release of a new community assessment tool that allows users to access data on the opioid epidemic in counties across the county, see the epidemic's relation to demographic and socioeconomic factors, compare county-level data to the rest of the state and country, and track how data has changed over time.
Source: NORC at the University of Chicago
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Opioid Bill Expands Treatment Options
Oct 4, 2018 - Discusses the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, opioid legislation recently approved by both houses of Congress and expected to be signed by President Trump. Two provisions in particular are expected to be especially helpful to people dealing with opioid use disorder. One would allow Medicaid to pay for residential treatment in large facilities, and the other would allow Medicare to pay for methadone treatment.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
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Solo FP Finds Fulfillment Serving Rural Patients, Community
Oct 3, 2018 - Highlights the experiences and difficulties of a rural primary care physician in Ohio. Touches on the challenges of operating a solo practice, like additional administrative duties and extra work to maintain electronic health records (EHR), issues with recruitment and retention, and more. Also explores the joys of this kind of medicine and the important role he serves in his community.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
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Hoeven Convenes Hearing To Examine Broadband Internet And Other Telecommunications Access On Tribal Lands
Oct 3, 2018 - Discusses the convening of an oversight hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to examine reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on broadband internet and other telecommunications access issues on tribal lands. As of December 2016, 35.4% of tribal residents lacked access to fixed broadband services, compared to 7.7% of the general population. Includes links to the reports as well as a video of the hearing.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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GAO: Rural Hospital Closures Increasing, South Hardest Hit
Oct 2, 2018 - Details a new analysis from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on rural hospital closures. Rural hospital closures disproportionately occurred in the South, among for-profit hospitals, and among organizations with a Medicare-dependent hospital payment designation. Just 17% of rural hospital closures were in states that expanded Medicaid as of April 2018. Also touched on efforts to address rural hospital closures.
Source: Healthcare Dive
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School-Wide Free Nutrition Program Attracts Fewer Rural Schools
Oct 2, 2018 - Details a study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Economic Research Service. This report, Characteristics of School Districts Offering Free School Meals to All Students Through the Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Lunch Program, looked at school districts participating in the USDA Community Eligibility Program, which allows schools to provide free breakfast and lunch for all of their students based on community characteristics rather than individual family applications. Despite the fact that rural families typically have more economic need, a smaller percentage of eligible school districts in rural areas participate in the program than in urban areas.
Source: The Daily Yonder
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Some Rural Areas Are Better for Economic Mobility
Oct 2, 2018 - Discusses economic mobility for children based on where they grow up. Economic mobility varies widely not only between metro, micropolitan, and non-metropolitan counties, but within them. Significant differences exist between census tracts, and are attributable to a number of factors. Additionally, economic mobility rates vary between different parts of the country, with rural children who grew up in the Midwest having greater economic mobility than rural children who grew up in the South.
Source: City Lab
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Better Data Will Serve as the Foundation in Modernizing the Medicaid Program
Oct 2, 2018 - Blog post for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) by CMS Administrator Seema Verma. Discusses how improved collection and use of data on Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will allow CMS to improve health outcomes as well as program integrity.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Blog
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A Conversation with Ray Rogers
Oct 2, 2018 - Radio interview with Ray Rogers, the CEO for the National Center for Health Care Informatics (NCHCI) and the Praxis Center for Innovative Learning in Montana. Discussion includes the creation and the work of the NCHCI and the development of the Praxis Center, which is intended to provide simulation training opportunities to rural providers, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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IHS Awards Tribal Management Grants to Support Tribal Self-Determination
Oct 1, 2018 - The Indian Health Service (IHS) has awarded grants to develop and improve tribal capacity to manage health programs. More than $1.4 million will be distributed through the Tribal Management Grant Program to 11 tribes and tribal organizations in 9 states.
Source: Indian Health Service
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HRSA Releases New Data on Child Health Across the U.S.
Oct 1, 2018 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has released the 2017 National Survey of Children's Health data. This voluntary survey is funded and directed by HRSA's Maternal and Child Health Bureau and provides annual national and state-level estimates related to key measures of child health and well-being.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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West Tennessee Healthcare Collaborative Improves Behavioral Health Patients’ Access to Care, Reduces Stigma
Sep 27, 2018 - Details the work of the West Tennessee Healthcare Collaborative to identify and address behavioral health issues that impact the community. Among other things, the collaboration trained people in the use of naloxone, including in rural areas, created a space to treat pregnant women with substance use disorders in a rural area, and implemented telehealth to improve access to care.
Source: American Hospital Association
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HHS Awards $50 Million to Assist American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Efforts Combating the Opioid Overdose Epidemic
Sep 26, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded grants to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes to strengthen efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. These grants, totaling about $50 million, aim to increase access to culturally appropriate and evidence-based treatment, including medication-assisted treatment.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Bipartisan Committee Leaders Announce Opioid Legislation Agreement
Sep 25, 2018 - Press release from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means announcing the agreement of a bipartisan, bicameral committee on opioid legislation. Both legislative bodies passed separate opioid legislation, requiring that discrepancies between the two bills be addressed by this committee. Includes full text of the revised legislation.
Source: U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means
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2019 Eligible Hospital eCQM Flows are Available Now
Sep 25, 2018 - Discusses the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) 2019 electronic clinical quality measure (eCQM) flows for eligible hospitals, which have been published to the eCQI Resource Center. This includes a guide to help users understand the flows.
Source: eCQI Resource Center
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State Snapshots Provide a Fresh Look at State-Specific Health Care Quality Trends
Sep 24, 2018 - Blog post from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) on its release of its 2017 State Snapshots, which provide detailed analyses of how each state and the District of Columbia is performing in areas of healthcare quality. Also touches on the 2017 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report (QDR) which was also released today and from which the data in the State Snapshots is taken.
Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
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CMS Awards Funding for Quality Measure Development
Sep 21, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded new cooperative agreements to partner with the agency in developing, improving, updating, and expanding quality measures for Medicare's Quality Payment Program (QPP). Through these partnerships, CMS will work with external organizations to develop and implement measures that are intended to improve patient care.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Death Rates Up for 5 of the 12 Leading Causes of Death
Sep 20, 2018 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics released an annual report on the health of the nation, Health, United States, 2017. Included in this report is an in-depth special feature on mortality in America, closely examining drug overdoses, suicides, and chronic liver disease because they have contributed to life expectancy drops in recent years.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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SAMHSA Releases Guides to Help Women Navigate Opioid Use Disorder Treatment While Pregnant
Sep 20, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is releasing four Healthy Pregnancy: Opioids in Pregnancy fact sheets designed to help women who have opioid use disorders and who are also pregnant or are mothers of infants. These fact sheets explain the process for treating opioid use disorder and neonatal abstinence syndrome and provide information to help them seek care and to manage pregnancy and treatment.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Surgeon General Releases Spotlight on Opioids
Sep 20, 2018 - Provides an update on the opioid addiction and statistics on the prevalence of substance misuse, opioid misuse, opioid use disorder (OUD), and overdoses. Includes discussion on work being done in rural areas to develop and implement evidence-based OUD prevention and treatment interventions.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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CMS: Medicare and Medicaid Programs: Regulatory Provisions to Promote Program Efficiency, Transparency, and Burden Reduction Federal Register
Sep 20, 2018 - Notice of proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reform Medicare regulations that have been identified as unnecessary, obsolete, or excessively burdensome on healthcare providers and suppliers, allowing them to devote more time to delivering high quality patient care. Discusses the impact on rural providers and facilities throughout. Comments on the proposed rule must be received by November 19, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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HHS Awards Over $1 Billion to Combat the Opioid Crisis
Sep 19, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) has awarded over $1 billion in support of HHS's five-point opioid strategy to address the opioid crisis, including $25.5 million for rural organizations. Discusses newly released data suggesting HHS's efforts in the opioid crisis are seeing progress at the national level.
Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
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Fixing What Ails You: Rural County to Reopen Hospital
Sep 19, 2018 - A hospital in Lee County, Virginia is set to reopen their local hospital after closing five years ago. Highlights the long-term efforts to maintain the building during the closure and community and state support to to bring services back to the area.
Source: National Association of Counties
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