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

Health Care Options Shrink as Rural Southern Hospitals Close Their Doors
May 25, 2018 - Details the struggles faced by residents in a rural North Carolina county following the closure of their local hospital, touching on the overall trend of rural hospital closures in the South tending to be in counties that are poorer or have higher minority populations. Although a multispecialty clinic has opened, residents have expressed that it does not adequately fill the gap left behind by the closed hospital.
Source: The Post and Courier
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Senate Passes Udall, Tester, Hoeven, Isakson Bill to Combat Native American Veteran Homelessness
May 24, 2018 - Announces the senate passage of the Tribal HUD-VASH Act, which authorizes a joint tribal veterans housing initiative between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program, which provides rental and housing assistance to veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. This initiative allows tribes and tribal housing authorities to access veterans housing funds for Native American veterans.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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SAMHSA Is Announcing the Availability of up to $230 Million for the Strategic Prevention Framework Partnerships for Success Grant Program
May 23, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for Strategic Prevention Framework - Partnerships for Success grants totaling up to $230 million over five years for substance abuse prevention that reaches populations most impacted. Although specifically focused on underage drinking among 9 to 20 year olds, recipients may also use funds to target up to two additional, data-driven substance abuse prevention priorities. SAMHSA expects to fund up to 34 grantees from up to $500,000 to $2.26 million per year for up to five years.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Senators Target Medicaid in Telehealth Bills Tackling Opioid Abuse
May 23, 2018 - Details four bills introduced in the U.S. Senate this week that aim to use telehealth to address the opioid epidemic and to reach more people on Medicaid and in rural areas. All of these bills have bi-partisan co-sponsors.
Source: mHealthIntelligence
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New Studies Confirm A Surge In Coal Miners' Disease
May 22, 2018 - Highlights a number of new studies about black lung disease. These studies found that more miners working in central Appalachia have earlier stages of the disease and more miners have suffered the advanced stages of the disease than previous government research has found. Other findings include sharp increases in the disease year after year, that lung function continues to get worse in miners with simple black lung even after they stop working, and a growing number of lung transplants for miners with severe symptoms.
Source: NPR
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A Conversation with Carrie Henning Smith
May 22, 2018 - Radio interview with Dr. Carrie Henning-Smith, the Deputy Director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Discussion includes an overview of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and its work, including research into barriers faced by rural residents in accessing nursing home care and related population health concerns, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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HRSA: Recruitment of Sites for Assignment of National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program Participants Federal Register
May 21, 2018 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announces that the listing of eligible entities that will receive priority for the assignment of National Health Service Corps (NHSC) scholarship recipients available for service October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2019 is posted on the Health Workforce Connector website. Also includes Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) scores for eligible facilities and instructions on how to submit information in support of a higher priority determination, due by June 20, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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Illicit Opioids: Office of National Drug Control Policy and Other Agencies Need to Better Assess Strategic Efforts
May 17, 2018 - Overview of a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) which noted that only one of the five strategies to combat illicit opioids submitted to them by federal agencies included results-oriented measures and that without these kinds of outcome-based performance measures, federal agencies will not be able to accurately assess the efficacy of their efforts. It also found that although federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly coordinating with the public health sector to share overdose information, both sectors reported ongoing challenges to sharing data in an effective and accurate way.
Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office
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USDA Invests $243 Million in Rural Community Facility Improvements in 22 States
May 16, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $243 million in investments in community facility projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. These loans will fund 50 projects in 22 states working to improve quality of life in rural communities. Priority is given to projects addressing the opioid crisis.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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How One Rural California County Went from the State’s Highest Rate of Opioid Deaths — to Zero
May 14, 2018 - Highlights a rural county in California that used to have the highest rate of opioid-related deaths in the state, despite being the eighth least populous. A network of regional coalitions across the state worked together to tackle the problem. The Northern Sierra Opioid Safety Coalition, which includes this county, worked on promoting safer prescribing, increasing access to naloxone, and increasing treatment options for addiction, including medication-assisted treatment.
Source: Center for Health Journalism
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New Population Health Portal Updates, May 2018!
May 11, 2018 - The National Rural Health Resource Center, in cooperation with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, has updated its Population Health Portal with two new scenarios in the Data Tool for a hospital or county to analyze the data in the portal and extract the data for further analysis in Microsoft Excel.
Source: National Rural Health Resource Center
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VA Expands Telehealth by Allowing Health Care Providers to Treat Patients Across State Lines
May 11, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a new federal rule that will allow VA doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers to administer care to Veterans using telehealth regardless of where in the U.S. the provider of the veteran is located, including across state lines or outside of a VA facility. This new rule exercises federal preemption to override state restrictions in an effort to increase access to care.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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CMS: Medicare Program; Durable Medical Equipment Fee Schedule Adjustments To Resume the Transitional 50/50 Blended Rates To Provide Relief in Rural Areas and Non-Contiguous Areas Federal Register
May 11, 2018 - Notice of an interim final rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to increase fee schedule rates for certain durable medical equipment. Amends the regulation to resume a blended fee schedule rate for items furnished in rural areas and non-contiguous areas (Alaska, Hawaii, and United States territories) not subject to the Competitive Bidding Program from June 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018. Comments on the interim final rule are due by July 9, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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Hoeven, Udall Introduce Legislation to Support Native Farmers, Ranchers, and Communities
May 9, 2018 - Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Tom Udall (D-NM), chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced bipartisan legislation to support tribal self-governance, agricultural production in Indian Country, and enhanced agribusiness and rural development opportunities for Native American farmers, ranchers, and communities. Among other things, this would provide greater self-determination for food distribution activities under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and would expand resources, research opportunities, and grant eligibility for tribal colleges and universities.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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CMS Safeguards Patient Access to Certain Medical Equipment and Services In Rural and Other Non-contiguous Communities
May 9, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an interim final rule that would increase the fee schedule rates from June 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018 for certain durable medical equipment (DME) items and services and enteral nutrition furnished in rural and non-contiguous areas not subject to the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program (CBP). This rule includes a comment period open through July 9, 2018.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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The Amish Pool Resources for Their Medical Care. A Budget-busting Gene Therapy Puts Them in a Bind
May 8, 2018 - Details the efforts to get an expensive therapy for two siblings who are part of the Plain community, a group of old order Amish and Mennonite families who do not use Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance because they believe that caring for the sick and elderly is a community's responsibility. Touches on the barriers to accessing healthcare that people in this community face, as well as some of the reasons why this therapy is so expensive.
Source: STAT News
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CMS Announces Agency’s First Rural Health Strategy
May 8, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released their first Rural Health Strategy. This agency-wide strategy is intended to provide a proactive approach to healthcare issues to ensure access to high quality, affordable healthcare by applying a rural lens to CMS programs and policies, advancing telehealth, improving access through provider engagement and support, empowering rural patients to make decisions about their healthcare, and leveraging partnerships to achieve these goals. A fact sheet is also available.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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A Conversation with Tommy Barnhart
May 8, 2018 - Radio interview with Tommy Barnhart, President of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). Discussion includes the work of NRHA, rural health policy, and rural hospital closures, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Needle by Needle, a Heroin Crisis Grips California’s Rural North
May 8, 2018 - Details the growing rates opioid use and homelessness in northern California's rural areas, touching on barriers like stigma, limited access to treatment, and a lack of housing options or support, among other things.
Source: The New York Times
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CMS: Medicare Program: FY 2019 Hospice Wage Index and Payment Rate Update and Hospice Quality Reporting Requirements Federal Register
May 8, 2018 - Notice of a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to update the hospice wage index, payment rates, and cap amount for FY 2019, as well as make changes to the Hospital Quality Reporting Program. Additionally, the proposed rule would make conforming regulations text changes to recognize physician assistants as designated hospice attending physicians, effective January 1, 2019. Comments on the proposed rule are due by June 26, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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Telemedicine Takes Transgender Care Beyond The City
May 5, 2018 - Details the difficulties rural transgender people face related to accessing healthcare, including general healthcare as well as care related to their transition, and the difference that telemedicine can make in providing access to that care. Issues related to their rurality and to social stigma can be alleviated this way, but only if these patients also live in areas with broadband infrastructure.
Source: NPR
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VA Offers Early Participation in a Faster New Claims Decision Review Process
May 4, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it is expanding the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP) by removing the requirement that veterans receive an invitation to participate. They are also launching the Early Applicability of Appeals Modernization (BEAAM) pilot project, which will identify 50 veterans who were dissatisfied with a recent benefits claim decision to participate in a study on veteran choices and experiences. This process will also allow these veterans to appeal the decision directly.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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SAMHSA Is Announcing the Availability of up to $37.5 Million for the Tribal Behavioral Health Grant Program
May 2, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the availability of up to $37.5 million to prevent and reduce suicidal behavior and substance use, reduce the impact of trauma, and promote mental health among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth. Through this Tribal Behavioral Health Grant Program, SAMHSA expects to fund up to 30 grantees with up to $250,000 per year for up to five years.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Request for Information: Administrative Streamlining and Burden Reduction
May 1, 2018 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from entities significantly impacted by HRSA regulations and policy on regulations that are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective, impose costs that exceed benefits, or are otherwise inconsistent with established regulatory policy and guidance. This is in an effort to reduce public and stakeholder burden in complying with administrative and reporting requirements. Comments will be accepted through July 2, 2018.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
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Members Appointed to New Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force
May 1, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the appointment of 28 members to the Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force, which was established to propose updates to best practices and issue recommendations that address gaps or inconsistencies for managing chronic and acute pain.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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In Rural Areas Hit Hard by Opioids, a New Source of Hope
Apr 30, 2018 - Discusses the difference access to care can make for people struggling with opioid use disorder, highlighting a program in rural Delaware. Also touches on barriers to care and the efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which helped fund the Delaware program, to address the opioid epidemic.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
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PCORI Board Approves $10 Million to Support Research on Medication-Assisted Treatment for Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorders
Apr 30, 2018 - The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Board of Governors approved funding for two new comparative clinical effectiveness research studies on Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for pregnant women with opioid use disorders. $5.3 million will go to a project at Dartmouth College that will compare the outcomes of women receiving prenatal care in practices that provide MAT with women who receive referrals to specialty care for MAT. $4.9 million will go to a University of Kentucky-based project comparing delivery models for comprehensive treatment for perinatal opioid use disorder to rural populations.
Source: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
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CMS Drives Patient-Centered Care over Paperwork in Proposals to Modernize Medicare and Reduce Burden
Apr 27, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed changes to the payment systems for services furnished by a range of medical facilities. The proposed rules for fiscal year 2019 would update Medicare policies and rates for the Skilled Nursing Facilities Prospective Payment System (SNF PPS), Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities Prospective Payment System (IRF PPS), Hospice Wage Index and Payment Rate Update, and Inpatient Psychiatric Facility Prospective Payment System (IPF PPS).
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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NHTSA: Request for Information: Improving Prehospital Trauma Care Federal Register
Apr 27, 2018 - On behalf of the Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is seeking comment and response to 24 specific questions from the public, governmental agencies, and professional and public interest groups on improving prehospital trauma care in all locations, including rural, suburban, urban, and wilderness areas. Comments are due by July 26, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS Administrator Verma Unveils New Strategy to Fuel Data-driven Patient Care, Transparency
Apr 26, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new Data Driven Patient Care Strategy as part of the MyHealthEData initiative. This strategy aims to support industry innovation related to using data to inform patients' healthcare decisions and transform the healthcare system through enhanced security and privacy, improved quality and efficiency, and reduced costs.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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CMS: Medicare Program; Extension of the Payment Adjustment for Low-Volume Hospitals and the Medicare-Dependent Hospital (MDH) Program Under the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems (IPPS) for Acute Care Hospitals for Fiscal Year 2018 Federal Register
Apr 26, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announces a one-year extension of certain temporary changes to the payment adjustment for low-volume hospitals and extends the Medicare-Dependent Hospital Program through FY 2022.
Source: Federal Register
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USDA Brings Local Agencies Together to Talk about Opioid Issue
Apr 25, 2018 - Details a meeting in Missouri with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett and local government agencies including the State Highway Patrol, the Department of Health and Senior Services, the Department of Mental Health and the state attorney general's office on the opioid epidemic and its impact in the state.
Source: Columbia Daily Tribune
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USDA Rural Development Innovation Center Launches Interactive Webpage to Share Best Practices for Rural Economic Development
Apr 25, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Innovation Center has unveiled a new webpage. This interactive resource highlights effective strategies to create jobs, build infrastructure, strengthen partnerships and promote economic development in rural communities. It also highlights USDA resources that can be used for investments in infrastructure and innovation and allows visitors to the page to submit comments on ways the USDA can improve Rural Development program delivery.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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CMS Proposes Changes to Empower Patients and Reduce Administrative Burden
Apr 24, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a rule that would update Medicare payment policies and rates under the Inpatient Prospective System (IPPS) and the Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (PPS) in an effort to improve patient access to electronic health records and hospital price information and make it easier for providers to spend time with their patients.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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Feedback on New Direction Request for Information (RFI) Released, CMS Innovation Center’s Market-Driven Reforms to Focus on Patient-Centered Care
Apr 23, 2018 - Last fall, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) Innovation Center's New Direction Request for Information sought to collect ideas on how to promote patient-centered care and test market-driven reforms to provide price transparency, reduce costs, improve outcomes, and increase choices and competition to drive quality. The comments submitted in response are now being shared in order to promote transparency and facilitate further discussion on moving the Innovation Center in a new direction. Further comments are sought by May 25, 2018 on direct provider contracting, which would allow providers to take accountability for the cost and quality of care for designated populations.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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FDA Takes New Steps to Advance the Development of Innovative Products for Treating Opioid Use Disorder
Apr 20, 2018 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the first of two new draft guidances intended to aid the industry in developing new medications for use in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid dependence. This draft guidance, "Opioid Dependence: Developing Buprenorphine Depot Products for Treatment," focuses on ways drug companies can more efficiently explore innovations in depot buprenorphine products.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
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The COPD National Action Plan and its Impact on Patients in Rural America
Apr 19, 2018 - Blog post from the COPD Foundation about a COPD workshop at the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute (NHLBI), COPD & Rural Health: A Dialogue on the National Action Plan from the perspective a COPD Foundation staff member who attended. Includes statistics about COPD in rural areas and a discussion of the COPD National Action Plan and which elements seemed most relevant to rural attendees, among other things.
Source: The COPD Foundation
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SAMHSA Is Announcing the Availability of up to $47.4 Million for Mental Health Awareness Training
Apr 19, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) Grants of up to $47.4 million over the next three years. SAMHSA expects to fund up to 126 grantees with up to $125,000 per year.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Journal of Rural Health Call for Submissions - Integration of U.S. Rural Oral Health Care Into Primary Care
Apr 19, 2018 - The Journal of Rural Health is soliciting articles on rural oral healthcare for a special section of an upcoming issue. Topics may include access to or quality of care, integration into primary care, and innovation in reimbursement or collaboration models, among other things. The deadline for submission is August 15, 2018.
Source: Journal of Rural Health
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Apply to Participate in the 2018 CMS Study on Burdens Associated with Reporting Quality Measures to Receive Improvement Activity Credit for 2018
Apr 18, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is conducting the 2018 Burdens Associated with Reporting Quality Measures Study in order to understand the challenges clinicians face in collecting and reporting quality data and to make future recommendations for changes to reduce those burdens and improve data collection. Applications accepted through April 30, 2018.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services eHealth News Updates
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Building Healthy and Vibrant Rural Communities Now and for Generations to Come
Apr 17, 2018 - Remarks from Anne Hazlett, USDA Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, presented at the National RX Abuse and Heroin Summit. Hazlett discusses the impact of the opioid epidemic on rural communities, the spread of blood-borne illnesses, and the efforts of the USDA to address it.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Blog
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#SubHealth Announces Roundtable Discussion Sharing Personal Stories from the Opioid Crisis
Apr 16, 2018 - The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee has announced a roundtable discussion entitled, "Personal Stories from the Opioid Crisis," featuring issues like the rise of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs and patient brokering. This roundtable will include participants who have struggled with opioid addiction or who have lost family members to the epidemic.
Source: U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee
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'Walking Through History to Truth’ – Health and the American Indian
Apr 14, 2018 - Blog post from the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) highlighting Dr. Donald Warne's opening presentation at the 2018 AHCJ conference. Warne's speech included discussion of the health conditions on Native American reservations and the impact of historical trauma intermixed with personal opinions and experiences from his own life.
Source: Association of Health Care Journalists Blog
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How Housing Impacts the Health of People Living With HIV/AIDS
Apr 12, 2018 - Highlights the work of a research team evaluating how housing impacts people living with HIV/AIDS in Alabama. Their work includes assessing the health impact of affordable housing programs and identifying promising strategies for effective case management of people living with HIV/AIDS. This research extends across 10 counties in Alabama, nine of which are rural.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Blog
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Committee Advances Legislation to Increase Accountability and Transparency at the Indian Health Service
Apr 11, 2018 - The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs passed the Restoring Accountability in the Indian Health Service Act, which would enact comprehensive reforms at the Indian Health Service in an effort to increase transparency and accountability, as well as to improve patient care standards and strengthen recruitment and retention of healthcare providers.
Source: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
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‘We’re Dying’: Feds Hear from Utahns Fighting on the Frontline of the State’s Rural Opioids Crisis
Apr 11, 2018 - Highlights the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) listening session on opioids in Utah, one of several visits to largely rural states in an effort to understand the impact of the opioid epidemic in rural areas. Touches on state-specific efforts to address it as well as concerns like limited treatment options and the difficulty of providing services in rural areas of the state.
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune
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CMS Issues Final 2019 Payment Notice Rule to Increase Access to Affordable Health Plans for Americans Suffering from High Obamacare Premiums
Apr 9, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2019, a final rule that is intended to increase state flexibility, improve affordability, strengthen program integrity, empower consumers, promote stability, and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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SAMHSA Is Announcing the Availability of up to $4.7 Million for Improving Access to Overdose Treatment Grants
Apr 9, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for grants totaling up to $4.7 million over the next five through its Improving Access to Overdose Treatment program. Eligibility is limited to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), opioid treatment programs, or practitioners who have a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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IHS Announces New Program to Support Youth After Successful Substance Abuse Treatment
Apr 5, 2018 - Blog post from the Indian Health Service (IHS) highlighting the launch of their new program to address the gap in services that occurs when youth are discharged upon successful completion of a Youth Regional Treatment Center (YRTC) and return to their home community where necessary support systems may not exist. This program, the YRTC Aftercare Pilot Project, will develop promising practices to reduce alcohol and substance use relapse.
Source: Indian Health Service Blog
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SAMHSA Launches Evidence-based Practices Resource Center to Equip Clinicians, Strengthen Communities
Apr 5, 2018 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has launched an Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center containing Treatment Improvement Protocols, toolkits, resource guides, and clinical practice guidelines for a broad range of audiences. This Resource Center aims to provide communities, clinicians, policy-makers, and others in the field with information and tools to incorporate evidence-based practices into their communities or clinical settings.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
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Surgeon General Releases Advisory on Naloxone, an Opioid Overdose-Reversing Drug
Apr 5, 2018 - U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., released a public health advisory urging more people, including the friends, family, and individuals personally at risk of an opioid overdose, to carry naloxone, a potentially-lifesaving medication that can reverse the effects of such an overdose. It is estimated that 2.1 million people in the U.S. struggle with an opioid use disorder, with rates of opioid overdose deaths rapidly increasing.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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USDA Prioritizes Investments to Address Opioid Crisis in Rural America
Apr 4, 2018 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it is giving funding priority in two key grant programs to programs that address opioid misuse in rural communities. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program will give priority to applications focused on the epidemic in rural areas. The Community Facilities Grant Program is reserving $5 million for projects with this focus.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
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A Conversation with Austin Gillard
Apr 3, 2018 - Radio interview with Austin Gillard, CEO of Clay County Medical Center, a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) with three Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) in rural Kansas. Discussion includes the work of Clay County Medical Center, hospital finances, and physician recruitment, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Hospitals Are Leaving Rural America. Rural Americans Are Staying Put.
Apr 3, 2018 - Highlights the difficulties faced in rural America with affordable access to health care, increased health concerns for people in dangerous professions like farming, and rural hospital closures, among other things. Also touches on rural strengths and some potential solutions in progress.
Source: Talk Poverty
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RUS: Announcement of Grant Application Deadlines and Funding Levels; Notice Federal Register
Apr 3, 2018 - USDA Rural Utilities Service announcement that applications for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program will be accepted through June 4, 2018. The DLT program provides funding to improve telemedicine services and distance learning services in rural areas through the use of telemedicine, computer networks, and related advanced technologies.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS Lowers the Cost of Prescription Drugs for Medicare Beneficiaries
Apr 2, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized policies for Medicare health and drug plans for 2019 that will save Medicare beneficiaries money on prescription drugs while offering additional plan choices. These policies include a reduction in the maximum amount that low-income beneficiaries pay for certain medications, among other things.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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HRSA: National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services; Notice of Meeting Federal Register
Apr 2, 2018 - The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services will hold a public meeting on April 16-18, 2018 in Saratoga Springs, NY. Agenda items include Assessing and Mitigating the Effect of Adverse Childhood Experiences and Health Insurance Markets in Rural Areas, among other things.
Source: Federal Register
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Rural Communities Overwhelmed with Hepatitis See Few Options
Mar 31, 2018 - In rural Ohio the rate of hepatitis C infections nearly doubled in a two-year period and that doesn't count the number of new cases that go unreported. The sudden rise has been attributed to the increase in needle sharing and a lack of needle exchange programs in rural areas.
Source: Record Herald
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Opioid Prevention, Treatment and Recovery - What’s Working in Your Town?
Mar 30, 2018 - Highlights a new feature on the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) rural opioid misuse webpage that allows visitors to the site to report the prevention, treatment, and recovery actions that have been effective in addressing the opioid epidemic in their rural communities. This is part of a continuing effort to identify best practices and effective strategies to address rural opioid misuse.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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USDA Kicks off Rural Opioid Discussions
Mar 30, 2018 - Highlights the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) first of several local opioid roundtables. This first event was in Pennsylvania and attended by USDA Assistant Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett, local officials from rural counties in the state, and representatives from the USDA, the Pennsylvania state government, and local universities, faith-based organizations, hospitals, recovery centers, and law enforcement agencies.
Source: National Association of Counties
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U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Continue to Rise; Increase Fueled by Synthetic Opioids
Mar 29, 2018 - A report in the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) found that the drug overdose epidemic is spreading geographically and increasing across demographic groups. It also found that recent increases in drug overdose deaths are driven by sharp increases in deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, such as illicitly-manufactured fentanyl. In 2016, nearly two-thirds of drug overdose deaths involved opioids.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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A Conversation with John Henderson
Mar 28, 2018 - Radio interview with John Henderson, the CEO at Childress Regional Medical Center in Texas and the next President and CEO of the Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals (TORCH). Discussion includes the work of and services provided by Childress Regional Medical Center, the state of rural health in the U.S., and the necessity of innovation, among other things.
Source: Rural Health Leadership Radio
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Infectious Disease Deaths Decline, but U.S. Sees Wide Disparity in Outcomes
Mar 28, 2018 - Details the results of a new study which found that deaths from infectious diseases decreased by 18% between 1980 and 2014 nationally, but that the outcome gap between rural and urban areas of the country has increased. (May require registration for full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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