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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.

Apr 2, 2020 - Features the Saginaw Valley State University-organized Project ECHO which holds bi-weekly teleconferences to connect healthcare providers from across the country with substance use disorder experts. Describes how coronavirus and social distancing practices have affected those recovering from substance use disorder, and highlights SVSU's efforts to provide support.
Source: Saginaw Valley State University
Apr 2, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the distribution of hoarded personal protective equipment (PPE) to those on the frontline of coronavirus response in New York and New Jersey. Includes contact information to report suspected hoarding and price gouging of PPE.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Apr 2, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new critical recommendations to nursing homes, state and local governments to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Some recommendations include implementing symptom screening for all persons within nursing homes, ensuring proper use and conservation of personal protective equipment, and designating separate staff teams for residents.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Apr 2, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a $200 million telehealth program to support healthcare providers respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The FCC also adopted final rules for a Connected Care Pilot Program, which will provide an additional $100 million from the Universal Service Fund to support the long-term use of telehealth.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Apr 2, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a second webinar to update rural stakeholders on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The call will be held Wednesday, April 8, 2020.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Apr 2, 2020 - Pre-publication notice of interim final rule with comment period from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create broad flexibilities for healthcare facilities and providers so that they can adequately provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Includes details about changes to payment policies and regulations for a variety of services. The regulations are applicable beginning March 1, 2020 and comments will be accepted through June 1, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Apr 1, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) encourages hospitals and health systems to direct COVID-19 questions to a new email, HospitalCOVID19@hhs.gov. The email serves as a resource to triage COVID-19 inquiries across HHS's offices and other relevant federal agencies.
Source: American Hospital Association
Apr 1, 2020 - Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) circulated a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would establish a $9 billion 5G Fund for Rural America. The FCC will vote on the Notice on April 23, 2020 and is seeking comments on options to identify rural areas eligible for 5G Fund support.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Apr 1, 2020 - Highlights actions that rural funders can take to make a difference during the COVID-19 outbreak. Some ideas include facilitating federal/state funding, using social connections to find opportunities, ensure funding is reaching underserved populations, and supporting the dissemination of accurate COVID-19 information.
Source: PhilanthropywoRx
Apr 1, 2020 - Summarizes data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that shows patients with underlying health issues are more likely to need treatment in a hospital and are at a higher risk of dying if exposed to coronavirus. Describes how the disease could affect minority, low-income, and rural populations with existing health disparities.
Source: NPR
Mar 31, 2020 - Interview with the president of New Ulm Medical Center, a Critical Access Hospital in Minnesota. Discusses how the hospital has shifted operations to prepare for COVID-19, including shifting to a virtual care model to meet ongoing care needs of their rural population.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund
Mar 31, 2020 - The Small Business Administration (SBA) and Treasury Department announced the initiation of the Paycheck Protection Program, established through the CARES Act. This program mobilizes banks and other lending institutions to provide small businesses with the capital they need to keep their workforce employed and pay operating expenses during COVID-19.
Source: Small Business Administration
Mar 31, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an open letter to the healthcare community asking they implement measures to maximize the number of ventilators available during the coronavirus pandemic. The measures include adhering to social distancing practices, optimizing the use of mechanical ventilators, ensuring data driven requests and usage of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) of ventilators and equipment, and increasing the capacity of the SNS.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 31, 2020 - Interview with Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on the COVID-19 outbreak and what we can expect in the next few months. Describes social distancing as a powerful tool in mitigating the spread of the virus and highlights the need for investing in public health.
Source: NPR
Mar 31, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health announced it has extended the deadline to submit comments to a Request for Information regarding rural maternal and infant healthcare. The new deadline is May 31, 2020.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 31, 2020 - The Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub) is requesting examples of creative ways communities are adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples can include innovations in healthcare, childcare, food access, supporting local businesses, and other areas.
Mar 30, 2020 - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) created the Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force to address the limited supply of protective and life-saving equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. Describes how the task force is increasing availability of critical resources through preservation of equipment, acceleration of industrial manufacturing, expansion of the industry, and allocation of resources.
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Mar 30, 2020 - Describes how advanced primary care models help to bring person-centered, affordable care to high-risk patient populations. Addresses challenges to implementing the model, such as high operating costs and lack of structure to operate in rural areas, and highlights opportunities to overcome these barriers. (May require a subscription to view full article).
Source: Health Affairs
Mar 30, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced his plan for a COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which includes $200 million to support healthcare providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program would help providers purchase telehealth equipment and necessary bandwidth to provide remote care to uninfected patients.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Mar 30, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued regulatory waivers and new rules to allow the U.S. healthcare system flexibility in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some changes include temporarily allowing hospitals to expand treatment capacity by triaging uninfected patients to other community-based locations, as well as allowing providers to receive reimbursement for evaluating beneficiaries over audio-only phones. CMS also provides additional background on the changes.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 30, 2020 - Notice of Executive Order from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publishing a list of medical resources that are needed to combat the spread of COVID-19 which have been designated as scarce or which are likely to be in short supply and should not be hoarded, effective March 25, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 29, 2020 - Discusses the reopening of closed rural hospitals to potentially serve as a safety valve for urban hospitals overrun with coronavirus patients. Addresses the financial toll coronavirus has brought upon rural hospitals and describes how existing challenges are only worsened by the issue.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 29, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to hospitals requesting they report data on their efforts to combat the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). CMS is specifically requesting hospitals report data on COVID-19 testing to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and daily reporting on bed capacity and supplies to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 28, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an expansion of its accelerated and advance payment program for Medicare participating healthcare providers and suppliers to lessen the financial hardships of providers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Includes qualification requirements for providers to receive payments.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 27, 2020 - Interview with Lynn Barr, CEO of Caravan Health, on how they are responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Discusses strategies to address COVID-19 and healthcare capacity in rural areas, offers advice on addressing chronic care needs among older populations.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund
Mar 27, 2020 - The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that their COVID-19 Response Plan is now available to the public. Describes how the VA has shifted some outpatient care to telehealth and implemented two zones in all of their facilities – one for COVID-19 patients and another for all other care.
Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Mar 27, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has added coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to the List of Potentially Life-Threatening Infectious Disease to Which Emergency Response Employees May be Exposed. Includes information on how medical facilities should make determinations about exposures.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 26, 2020 - Describes how rural hospitals in Maine are preparing for coronavirus, including a group of hospital workers that are sewing medical gowns to supplement a diminishing supply of personal protective equipment and a facility that has converted a conference room into space to absorb patients in the event of a surge of patients.
Source: Maine Public
Mar 26, 2020 - People are fleeing big cities and heading to smaller, rural towns in an effort to escape the coronavirus. Experts describe how this is a natural response to an emergency, but warn that it could further spread the disease and overwhelm healthcare facilities in rural areas.
Source: Business Insider
Mar 26, 2020 - Highlights provisions for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act passed on March 25th, 2020. Includes details on the Small Business Adminstration's 7(a) loan program, the expansion of the Medicare accelerated payment program, and extended funding for several healthcare programs.
Source: National Association of Rural Health Clinics
Mar 26, 2020 - The American Medical Association (AMA) announced new coding procedures to assist physicians and practices using Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) to properly report medical services provided to COVID-19 patients. Includes coding advice for office, telehealth, and online services offered to COVID-19 patients, as well as a flow-chart for CPT reporting for COVID-19 testing.
Source: American Medical Association
Mar 26, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued relief for Rural Health Care Program participants during the coronavirus pandemic. Actions taken include extending the RHC Program application filing window to June 30, 2020, easing competitive bidding requirements for health care providers with expiring evergreen contracts, and extending deadlines for responses to inquiries from the Universal Service Administrative Company.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Mar 26, 2020 - The National Rural Health Association is requesting commentaries and letters to the editor that describe problems and solutions pertaining to COVID-19 prevention, mitigation, and containment in rural areas. Submissions do not require peer review and if chosen, are to be published in the Journal of Rural Health.
Source: National Rural Health Association
Mar 26, 2020 - Summarizes the third in a series of three bills passed by the Senate in response to COVID-19. Lists important provisions, including additional funds to support rural hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals, community health centers, and Indian Health Services, as well as the expansion of telehealth.
Source: National Rural Health Association
Mar 25, 2020 - Describes how rural counties with high populations of older Americans could potentially be hit hard by coronavirus. Discusses measures that healthcare providers in areas with large elderly populations are taking, such as social distancing, utilizing telemedicine, and encouraging patients to stay away unless it is an emergency.
Source: USA Today
Mar 25, 2020 - The American Hospital Association (AHA) provides details on public assistance (PA) funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) available during the COVID-19 pandemic. Describes program eligibility and covers the PA program application process for hospitals and healthcare systems.
Source: American Hospital Association
Mar 25, 2020 - Features several U.S. counties and the actions they are taking to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus disease in their communities. Some strategies include limiting the hours of public offices, allowing employees to work from home, closing down parks and public spaces, and offering free childcare for county employees.
Source: National Association of Counties
Mar 25, 2020 - Provides overview of the $2 Trillion stimulus package the Senate approved to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Includes details on funding to expand services and capacity for rural hospitals, funding to help procure personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies, and other provisions impacting states.
Source: National Conference of State Legislators
Mar 25, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development has taken actions to help rural communities and businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Provides a list of opportunities for immediate relief, including the Rural Housing, Rural Utilities, and Rural Business-Cooperative Services.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Mar 24, 2020 - Several measures have been taken by the federal government to lower barriers to virtual healthcare services during the coronavirus outbreak, but many rural areas still lack the internet access necessary to utilize telehealth. Describes how this disparity may put rural residents at risk if they have to leave their home to receive care, introduces possible solutions to the issue.
Source: Morning Consult
Mar 24, 2020 - Community health centers received supplemental funding in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but clinics still worry about their financial future. Describes how health centers have had to eliminate some services to make room for COVID-19 patients, shifting resources away from primary care to pandemic response.
Source: NPR
Mar 24, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS ASPR) announced it will award $100 million in funding to the U.S. healthcare systems preparing for a surge in COVID-19 patients. The funds will directly support the National Special Pathogen System and provide healthcare workers with necessary training and resources.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 24, 2020 - Analyzes the risks that rural areas of the country face if exposed to coronavirus, including health and economic consequences. Includes statistics on the prevalence of chronic disease, test kit availability, and percentage of recreation dependent counties in rural versus urban areas.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 24, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $100 million to 1,381 health centers through the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. The funding will support HRSA-funded health centers with their emergency planning and response efforts, including screening and testing needs, the acquisition of medical supplies, and telehealth capacity during the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 24, 2020 - Examines how the coronavirus outbreak is amplifying health disparities among homeless, low-income, elderly and rural populations. Describes how social determinants of health affect these populations and limits the care they receive during public health emergencies.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Mar 23, 2020 - As the coronavirus epidemic forces many to stay home, telehealth treatment for substance abuse becomes necessary to deliver care to those who need it. Highlights a new virtual care system that utilizes video conferencing to allow patients to receive counseling in their own home and discusses how rural providers can receive virtual training through a hub-and-spoke model.
Source: PBS
Mar 23, 2020 - Traveling doctors and nurses could act as a solution to the physician gap in rural America – especially during the coronavirus outbreak. Describes how relaxed licensing requirements have made it easier for travel nurses to move state to state, but a depleting supply of personal protective equipment still remains a concern for rural hospitals.
Source: NPR
Mar 23, 2020 - Highlights actions several counties across the country have taken to mitigate the spread of coronavirus among their elderly and vulnerable residents. Strategies include utilizing teachers and volunteers to deliver necessary supplies and call seniors' homes.
Source: National Association of Counties
Mar 22, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced four new tools to support state Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The checklists will permit states to access emergency administrative relief, make temporary modifications to Medicaid eligibility, relax rules, and modify payment rules.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 22, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it is granting exceptions from reporting requirements and extensions for clinicians and facilities participating in Medicare quality reporting programs. Includes information and submission deadlines for provider programs, hospital programs, and post-acute care programs.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 21, 2020 - Hospitals are canceling elective procedures to free up resources for coronavirus patients, but many rural hospitals rely on the revenue from those procedures to continue operations. Discusses how the coronavirus outbreak will hurt rural hospitals that are already in the red and stretched for resources.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Mar 20, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human (HHS) announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide $80 million in funding to tribes, tribal organizations, and Urban Indian Organizations to support response to the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Additional funding is also made available by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 20, 2020 - Examines how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the already-struggling rural healthcare system. Discusses economic and systemic barriers to healthcare access in rural areas, especially for Latino and other minority populations. Includes resources to manage and prevent coronavirus in rural areas.
Source: Salud America
Mar 20, 2020 - Summarizes an analysis which found over half of counties in America have no intensive care beds, posing a risk for older residents who are more susceptible to serious illness due to COVID-19. Describes how hospitals in urban and rural areas may have to decide how to ration scarce resources.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Mar 19, 2020 - Analyzes flu death rates across the country as a model for the coronavirus outbreak, identifying rural areas as having higher flu death rates than metropolitan areas. Researchers attribute the disparity to limited access to healthcare and fewer resources in rural areas.
Source: The Washington Post
Mar 19, 2020 - The U.S. House of Representatives approved a second coronavirus aid package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The five main provisions of the act include free coronavirus testing, food assistance, an increase in the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rate, unemployment aid, and paid sick and medical leave.
Source: National Association of Counties
Mar 19, 2020 - Features the Shoalwater Bay Reservation in Washington State who is preparing for the arrival of the novel coronavirus. Discusses the challenges Indian Health Service facilities face when addressing public health crises, such as lack of funding and high rates of chronic disease.
Source: NPR
Mar 18, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of up to $100 million in Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs) to help address workforce-related impacts of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. Eligible participants include dislocated workers, those laid off as a result of coronavirus, and long-term unemployed individuals.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Mar 18, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced changes to the Rural Health Care (RHC) and E-Rate programs to make it easier for broadband providers to support telehealth and remote learning during the coronavirus outbreak. Changes include temporarily waiving the gift rules so broadband providers can offer RHC and E-Rate program participants better internet access and equipment.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Mar 18, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced all elective, non-essential surgeries and procedures to be delayed during the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These recommendations are to help healthcare providers ensure the availability of beds, equipment, personnel, and resources to care for patients who are most in need.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 18, 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic has led many schools and businesses to continue online, revealing a digital divide that exists in rural and low-income areas of the country. Discusses challenges to broadband access as well as federal and commercial efforts to expand internet connection and build networks in these areas.
Source: CNET
Mar 18, 2020 - President Trump has declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency, effective March 1, 2020 and directs the Secretary of the Health and Human Services to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements of the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children's Health Insurance programs and of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule throughout the duration of the emergency.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 17, 2020 - The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it will waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations against healthcare providers that utilize communication platforms, i.e. Skype, for telehealth services during the COVID-19 outbreak. Includes further guidance for healthcare providers on responsibly offering telehealth to patients.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 17, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance to all Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Organizations in response to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. PACE is a Medicare and Medicaid program that serves older adults that often have serious medical conditions. The guidance offers actionable information with respect to infection control among these populations.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 17, 2020 - The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a Policy Statement to notify practitioners that they will not be subject to administrative sanctions for reducing or waiving cost-sharing obligations Federal healthcare program beneficiaries may owe for telehealth services during the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Source: Office of the Inspector General
Mar 17, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries across the country. Describes how Medicare beneficiaries can now receive various telehealth services from any healthcare facility or their home to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 17, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a webinar to update rural stakeholders on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The call will be held Monday, March 23, 2020.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Mar 17, 2020 - Features a rural county in Texas whose severely ill residents must travel at least 90 miles for care. Describes the numerous challenges rural areas face should they encounter a coronavirus outbreak and includes information on how states are combating the spread of the virus.
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
Mar 17, 2020 - Notice from the Department of Health and Human Services issuing a declaration to provide liability immunity for activities related to medical countermeasure against COVID-19. This liability immunity protects certain individuals and entities against any claim of loss caused by, arising out of, relating to, or resulting from the manufacture, distribution, administration, or use of medical countermeasures, except for claims involving "willful misconduct" as defined by the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act). This declaration is effective February 4, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 16, 2020 - The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) announced it will offer hospitals and other parties access to the Physician Data Center (PDC) for free. The PDC provides information on licensing verification and credentials for physicians who are mobilizing to provide care for COVID-19 patients.
Source: Federation of State Medical Boards
Mar 16, 2020 - The White House Coronavirus Task Force issued new guidelines for Americans during the novel coronavirus disease outbreak. The recommendations aim to minimize the spread of coronavirus and protect the public's health.
Source: The White House
Mar 16, 2020 - Features a 15-bed, rural hospital in Idaho and discusses how the novel coronavirus disease could overwhelm their facility. Hospital staff visit local businesses and schools to inform on prevention measures.
Source: NPR
Mar 16, 2020 - Notice from the Executive Office of the President, stating that, due to the anticipated shortage of personal respirator devices, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services shall take appropriate and necessary steps to facilitate the emergency use of general use respirators by healthcare personnel to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 14, 2020 - Features a hospital in rural Washington that is bracing itself for the arrival of the novel coronavirus disease. With already limited resources, the hospital struggles to find supplies as hospital vendors ration equipment. (May require a subscription to view full article).
Source: The Washington Post
Mar 13, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced they will be taking actions to follow the President's declaration of a national emergency through the Stafford Act due to COVID-19. Details administrative actions regarding waivers and flexibilities for healthcare facilities, provider enrollment flexibilities, relief for State Medicaid Agencies, and suspension of enforcement activities.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 13, 2020 - President Donald Trump declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency and asked hospitals to activate emergency preparedness measures. Highlights that the HHS secretary has authority to waive several hospital requirements, including limits on number of beds and length of stay in Critical Access Hospitals, state provider license restrictions, telemedicine requirements. (May require a subscription to view full article).
Source: Modern Healthcare
Mar 13, 2020 - Discusses potential implications of COVID-19 on nursing facility residents and overall operations, as these facilities provide care to those with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems, and of old age. Includes statistics on the share of nursing home residents currently receiving respiratory treatment, experiencing depression, and share of nursing homes with deficiencies in infection control.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
Mar 13, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) announced they will provide over $1.2 million in funding to support two rapid diagnostic tests that may detect severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Describes the need for rapid diagnostic testing to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 12, 2020 - Video interview with Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, addresses the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its effect on rural communities. Discusses rural hospital capacity, telehealth opportunities, and prevention strategies for rural residents.
Source: RFD TV
Mar 12, 2020 - Summarizes an analysis that found seniors living in urban areas are surviving longer than seniors in rural areas. Discusses how access to medical treatments, community culture, and tobacco use can contribute to these health disparities.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Mar 12, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published their Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer and found that cancer death rates decreased between 2001 and 2017. Researchers also found that all Healthy People 2020 targets for reducing death rates were met for all cancers, but identified that breast cancer screening rates dropped slightly among rural and uninsured women.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Mar 11, 2020 - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is distributing funding to state and local jurisdictions to support the nation's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The $560 million in funds will allow public health leaders to implement strategies to contain the spread of the virus.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 11, 2020 - Summarizes research that shows rural patients experience a higher rate of social determinants of health which impacts cancer screening and preventive care rates. Describes how healthcare professionals should assess rurality and other social risk factors to improve access to preventive care.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Mar 10, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memorandum to State Survey Agencies on the types of facemasks healthcare workers may use when in situations involving novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The guidance is part of an effort to ensure a maximum supply of facemasks and respirators are available to healthcare providers.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 10, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provided additional guidance to home health agencies and dialysis facilities in response to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The guidance offers information to healthcare workers on the screening, treatment, and transfer procedures to follow when interacting with patients.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 10, 2020 - Covers existing disparities between the health of rural and urban Americans, describes research from the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) on the role of Family Physicians (FPs) in improving rural healthcare delivery. Includes proposed solutions from the ABFM to maintain the presence of FPs in rural areas.
Source: Annals of Family Medicine
Mar 6, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service has released a list of frequently asked questions to guide healthcare providers on issues related to 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Includes information on billing codes, payment for lab tests, telehealth services, and more.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 6, 2020 - Summarizes research that found rural, low-income mothers with chronic depression were likely to experience more health problems and face challenges in dealing with their children's behavioral problems. Discusses how physician distrust and stigma keep rural mothers from seeking mental health treatment.
Source: Washington State University
Mar 5, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is requesting public comments on their draft of the CMS Quality Reporting Document Architecture (QRDA) Category I Implementation Guide and Schematron for Hospital Quality Reporting. The guidelines outline requirements for eligible hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals to report quality measures for the 2021 calendar reporting year. Comments are due by April 1, 2020.
Source: eCQI Resource Center
Mar 5, 2020 - Addresses the increasing suicide rates among farmers in the Midwest, describes several events that have plagued farmers in recent years. Discusses sources of stress such as increasing debt, plunging commodity prices, and worsening weather, and identifies programs and resources available to farmers.
Source: The Columbus Dispatch, USA Today Network
Mar 4, 2020 - Features a telehealth project that launched at a barber shop in rural North Carolina, where patrons can receive a blood pressure reading after their haircut. The program hopes to expand the designation of "community anchor institutions" to barbershops and other community businesses in an effort to increase broadband in rural areas.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 4, 2020 - Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center launched a three-year initiative to build a "hub-and-spoke" model geriatric emergency department which will utilize telemedicine to extend services to rural areas. The goal of the initiative is to keep geriatric patients near their rural homes and keep complicated cases at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
Source: Health Leaders
Mar 4, 2020 - Health officials state rural communities are at a lower risk of person-to-person spread of the coronavirus than urban areas, but describe the importance of preparing for the event. Includes recommendations for rural residents to protect against the spread of the virus.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 4, 2020 - Summarizes a report that found rural Americans are more likely to experience tooth decay than their urban counterparts. Explores teledentistry as a solution to addressing the disparity and discusses states that have introduced legislation to establish teledentistry and expand access to oral health services.
Source: National Conference of State Legislators
Mar 3, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Health Mart will be donating their dispensing services to support HHS's Ready, Set, PrEP program. Health Mart pharmacies will provide free PrEP medications and counseling to eligible individuals, expanding access to HIV prevention and care services in traditionally underserved areas.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 3, 2020 - The Administration for Community Living (ACL) is requesting that Senior Nutrition Programs send photos, videos, audio clips, or testimonials from seniors at program activities. ACL will be highlighting submissions during the month of March to honor the 1972 enactment of the National Senior Nutrition programs.
Source: Administration for Community Living
Mar 2, 2020 - Summarizes an analysis from the Government Accountability Office which found the number of Medicare-Dependent Hospitals (MDH) declined by 28 percent between 2011 and 2017. Provides an overview of the MDH program and describes the differences between MDH designation and other rural designations for hospitals.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Mar 2, 2020 - Opinion article discusses Medicaid policy changes that could address maternal mortality in the U.S. Includes proposals to extend pregnancy-related Medicaid eligibility and expand community-based services to improve birth outcomes, outlines the proposed Pregnancy2Parenthood Plan which aims to be a consistent health plan for all pregnant mothers and infants. (May require a subscription to view full article).
Source: Health Affairs
Mar 2, 2020 - Highlights the Rural Veterans TeleRehabilitation Initiative (RVTRI) program which gives rural veterans living with traumatic brain injuries access to rehabilitation treatments through art, music, dance, and creative writing. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also launched The Creative Forces: National Endowment of the Arts Military Arts Healing Network which expanded the therapy program across the country.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Mar 2, 2020 - Covers an address given by the senior advisor of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) at a meeting of the National Association of Counties' (NACo) Rural Action Caucus at their Legislative Conference. Discusses the ONDCP's efforts to address drug addiction and treatment services in rural America.
Source: National Association of Counties
Feb 28, 2020 - Sonny Perdue, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, announced that Bette Brand will take over as the USDA's Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary following the retirement of Donald "D.J." Lavoy.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Feb 28, 2020 - The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) is requesting story submissions on tobacco programs implemented by rural health departments. Submissions for the 'Stories from the Field' are due by March 13, 2020.
Source: National Association of County and City Health Officials
Feb 27, 2020 - Alex Azar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the appointment of the Chair of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services (NACRHHS). Jeff Colyer, a former Kansas Governor and surgeon by training, will be the fifth chair of the Committee.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Feb 27, 2020 - The American Farm Bureau Federation announced it will be taking the lead on Bayer's Farm State of Mind Campaign, an initiative which raises mental health awareness in farming communities. Describes how the Farm Bureau has the resources to expand the initiative's reach and effectiveness among farmers.
Source: American Farm Bureau Federation
Feb 26, 2020 - Addresses the rising suicide rate in the U.S., especially in rural areas, and presents suicide risks and misconceptions. Includes information on the opioid crisis and resources to aid in the development of a community suicide prevention plan.
Source: EfficientGov
Feb 26, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $117 million as part of the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative. The funding aims to expand access to HIV care, treatment, medication, and prevention services in seven rural states and other areas of the country.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Feb 25, 2020 - Features a telemedicine program that helps rural children and their families access clinical trials of early behavioral interventions. The program targets social and nonverbal communication skills and allows families to access the services on their own time without having to travel long distances.
Source: HealthDay News
Feb 25, 2020 - Addresses recent research that found child mortality rates are decreasing slower in rural areas and describes challenges that contribute to the disparities in maternal and child health outcomes. Highlights the Health Impact Project which supports community organizations in identifying and implementing strategies to improve maternal health.
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
Feb 23, 2020 - Health officials in rural Tennessee are teaching children as young as 6 how to administer Narcan to reverse an opioid overdose. Describes how the trainings aim to destigmatize drug use and educate children on the dangers and reality of opioids. (May require a subscription to view full article).
Source: The New York Times
Feb 21, 2020 - Summarizes research that found in increase in deaths due to alcohol consumption between 2000 and 2016. Describes how the largest increases occurred among American Indian and Alaska Native men and women as well as white women.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Feb 21, 2020 - Highlights the U.S. Department of Affairs' (VA) Technology-based Eye Care Services (TECS) program that provides remote eye screening services to veterans in rural areas. Established in 2015, the program now serves 22 VA facilities.
Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Feb 20, 2020 - With limited medical personnel and a projected increase in the healthcare needs of rural areas, the roles of paramedics and nurses are expected to expand. Discusses how telehealth will help emergency medical providers to advance their career and describes a need for additional training for all healthcare professionals.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 19, 2020 - Summarizes a study that showed a higher rate of developmental disability for children in rural areas than those in urban areas. Discusses how rural areas have less access to a variety of healthcare providers, such as behavioral health professionals, which could factor in to the disparity in developmental issues.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Feb 18, 2020 - Notice of proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revising regulations for Medicare Advantage (Part C), Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (Part D), Medicaid, Medicare Cost Plan, and Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. Changes are intended to reduce "red tape" to allow providers adequate time for patient care. Includes rural implications throughout, including those impacting Medicare Advantage and Cost Plan Network adequacy and Part D pharmacy performance measures, among other things. Comments on the proposed changes are due by April 6, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 17, 2020 - Highlights the Texas AIM program, implemented at hospitals across the state to standardize maternal healthcare and address medical complications during child birth. The program includes a set of protocols for hospitals to follow, increases communication between hospitals, and created a central location for data on health outcomes for women and babies.
Source: KUT Public Media
Feb 16, 2020 - Details the HIV outbreak in rural Indiana from five years ago, describing the efforts the county took to recover, including opening a syringe exchange program as part of a one-stop community resource center. Discusses how syringe exchange programs would help rural counties avoid an HIV outbreak, but some states are reluctant.
Source: NPR
Feb 14, 2020 - Summarizes a study that identified an increase in EMS transport times when a local hospital closes. Rural residents already face longer wait times than urban residents, and as more rural hospitals close, wait times become more dangerous for patients.
Source: Journal of Emergency Medical Services
Feb 12, 2020 - Missouri started offering alternatives to opioids for Medicaid patients battling chronic pain and found that only a small fraction of users accessed the program. Describes how alternatives like chiropractic care, acupuncture, and physical therapy are more time consuming forms of care and how often times, clinics are weary of accepting Medicaid as a payer.
Source: HuffPost
Feb 12, 2020 - The Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spoke at the National Rural Health Association's Rural Health Policy Institute on efforts to improve healthcare in rural communities. Discusses the challenges faced by rural Americans and highlights organizations that have been addressing these disparities and continuing to make progress.
Source: The Federal Communications Commission
Feb 12, 2020 - The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is requesting public input on opportunities to improve healthcare access, quality, and outcomes for rural women and infants before, during, and after pregnancy. Additional comments regarding rural readiness to handle obstetric emergencies are also requested. Comments are due by April 12, 2020.
Source: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Feb 11, 2020 - The Chartis Center for Rural Health released research findings that identify more than 450 rural hospitals vulnerable to closure. Describes the model they used which compared the performance level of 2000 open rural hospitals to those that have closed, stating the Southeast and lower Great Plains regions were the most vulnerable to closures.
Source: Business Wire
Feb 11, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announces it is accepting applications for grants to help increase access to education, training, and healthcare resources in rural communities. Applications for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants are due April 10, 2020.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Feb 11, 2020 - Summarizes a study which showed that rural doctors have salaries approximately 5 to 10 percent higher than doctors practicing in urban areas. Describes the importance of offering higher salaries, tuition assistance and other incentives to recruit healthcare professionals to work in rural communities.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 10, 2020 - The American Heart Association published a Presidential Advisory on addressing social determinants of health and improving healthcare quality and outcomes in rural America. Summarizes the existing disparities in rural communities and proposes solutions that prioritize rural health policy, research, and innovation.
Source: American Heart Association
Feb 10, 2020 - Three medical students envisioned a shadowing program for aspiring healthcare workers at Veterans Affairs medical centers and pitched their idea to Capitol Hill, creating the Veterans-Specific Education for Tomorrow's Health Professionals (VET HP) Act. Describes how VA facilities are currently understaffed and bills like the VET HP Act help to fill the gaps.
Source: CNBC
Feb 10, 2020 - Provides an overview of a study that showed the total cost of virtual care was lower than the costs of urgent care, primary care, and emergency department visits. Describes the benefits of utilizing telehealth in rural care settings for patients, providers, and payers.
Source: American Hospital Association
Feb 9, 2020 - Features a primary care physician in rural Maine who is dedicated to caring for the LGBTQ community, a majorly underserved population. Highlights provider directories that help members of the LGBTQ community find inclusive medical facilities.
Source: Central Maine
Feb 7, 2020 - Analyzes life expectancy in the U.S. over the last century and addresses the decrease in life expectancy in recent years. Describes disparities in life expectancy due to health problems, gender, race and ethnicity, and geographic location.
Source: Harvard Health Publishing
Feb 6, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is seeking comments regarding the upcoming Telehealth Resource Center (TRC) Program Notice of Funding Opportunity. HRSA is gathering public input to assess how the TRC could better serve rural and underserved populations, comments are due March 6, 2020.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
Feb 6, 2020 - Summarizes a survey that found 60 percent of hospitals with less than 150 beds were unsure of their current Electronic Health Records (EHR) system. Describes how a large percentage of rural and community hospitals were considering moving to a cloud-based EHR system to reduce costs and increase efficiency of practice.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Feb 6, 2020 - Covers the Rural Partnership Development Meeting, in which the audience consisted of participants of three HRSA-funded outreach programs. Describes how the programs connect remote and rural populations to healthcare services, advocating for and helping providers to form healthcare partnerships.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration
Feb 6, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule and the Advance Notice Part II to modernize the Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug programs. Some proposed changes would lower beneficiary cost sharing on some drugs and require Part D plans to offer price comparison tools. CMS is accepting comments on all proposals in the Advance Notice until March 6, 2020.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Feb 6, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is seeking comments and recommendations on its intent to create the HRSA Tribal Advisory Council (TAC), as well as nominations of tribal officials for consideration as voluntary delegates to serve on the HRSA TAC. The council will meet to discuss policies that have tribal implications and a substantial direct effect on Indian tribes, and to assist in the determination of the impact of HRSA programs on American Indian/Alaska Native populations. Nominations are due by May 7, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 5, 2020 - Summarizes a study in which researchers analyzed other studies on opioid use disorder. Findings identified several barriers to treatment and showed a lack of overall research in rural areas. Includes researchers' recommendations to improve coordination between stakeholders and expand rural opioid use disorder research.
Source: Rutgers Today
Feb 5, 2020 - Provides an overview of a recent report from the HHS Office of Inspector General, in which researchers identified a lack of access to care for opioid use disorder in rural areas, even with an increased number of providers capable of administering medication-assisted treatment. Attributes this issue to physicians not filling their patient panels and a lack of geographic distribution of physicians.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Feb 5, 2020 - Examines rural hospitals' ability to handle the coronavirus if there were an outbreak in their community, healthcare leaders describe that even without all of the resources of urban hospitals, they are prepared. Explains how leaders are more concerned with the influx of "the worried well" and the impact it could have on residents.
Source: The Daily Yonder

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