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

Mar 30, 2023 - The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking your input and ideas about the ways in which states and cities can ensure equity in mental and behavioral health policies and reduce barriers to care for rural communities. Join the Mental Health Matters: Targeting Underserved Rural, Racial and Ethnic Communities National Online Dialogue to post ideas, as well as comment and vote on ideas posted by others. This conversation is one of four in a series. Submissions are due by April 7, 2023. View the MentalHealthMatters website to learn more about the entire online event.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Mar 28, 2023 - Senators Amy Klobuchar, John Thune, John Hickenlooper, and Jerry Moran reintroduced the Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act, which would promote universal access to broadband and other telecommunications services. Companion legislation was introduced by a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives.
Source: Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar
Mar 27, 2023 - Announcement from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy of the application period for the Rural Health Care Coordination Program. The program is designed to improve and expand the delivery of healthcare services in rural areas through comprehensive care coordination strategies. Applications are due May 15, 2023.
Source: Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
Mar 23, 2023 - The Montana Produce Prescription Collaborative was recently awarded a federal grant of $500,000 to support Montana produce prescription programs over the next 3 years. Participating partners screen patients for chronic health conditions and food access, and eligible patients receive coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Mar 23, 2023 - In November the Federal Communications Commission released new broadband maps providing a snapshot of the state of broadband deployment in the United States. The maps are designed to be constantly and consistently refined through an iterative process, and public maps are updated every 2 weeks.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Mar 20, 2023 - Last fall Congress passed the MOBILE Health Care Act, which gives Federally Qualified Health Centers greater flexibility to use federal funding to create and operate mobile units. Health and community organizations have started using mobile units to bring COVID-19 testing and vaccination, primary care, behavioral health, and reproductive services to rural patients.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Mar 19, 2023 - Tribal leaders in the Cherokee Nation say $100 million won in opioid settlements will help their community heal from decades of addiction. Over the next five years, the tribe plans to roll out a total of $75 million in new treatment facilities. The remainder will go toward the costs of running these sites as well as a scholarship fund.
Source: WHQR Public Media
Mar 18, 2023 - Discusses ongoing challenges rural hospitals face, including finances and workforce, noting that at least 136 rural hospitals and health systems closed between 2010-2021, and over 40% of rural hospitals operate with negative profit margins. In 2019, the Health Resources and Services Administration funded 32 new rural residency programs in an effort to increase the number of providers practicing in rural areas, .
Source: ABC News
Mar 16, 2023 - Examines ways in which some philanthropic organizations changed direction during the COVID-19 pandemic and focused more on relationship-building and on-the-ground support for their rural partners. Highlights efforts at Con Alma Health Foundation in New Mexico, the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation in Freeport, Maine, and United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, based in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 15, 2023 - The rate of homelessness and housing insecurity rose faster in rural places than the country at large over the past two years. Community-based organizations like the Gary Leif Navigation Center in Roseburg, Oregon and Kentucky River Community Care in eastern Kentucky are in a position to offer solutions.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 15, 2023 - Virginia Senator Mark R. Warner and Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn reintroduced the Save Rural Hospitals Act, which would amend the Medicare Area Wage Index formula. The index is used to adjust a hospital's overall payment from the Medicare program on the basis of geographic differences in labor costs, to ensure that rural hospitals receive fair payment for the care they provide.
Source: Office of Senator Mark R. Warner
Mar 13, 2023 - Shares the results of a study that found while the entire country is seeing dwindling numbers of physicians, rural areas still remain behind their urban counterparts, risking a deepening healthcare crisis for rural America.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 10, 2023 - Summarizes a roundtable discussion at the American Hospital Association Rural Health Care Leadership Conference in February focused on "Redefining Quality Essentials." Topics included telemedicine, patient-centered medical homes, sharing patient information electronically, quality and performance improvement initiatives, and improving patient engagement.
Source: American Hospital Association
Mar 8, 2023 - Shares the results of a recent Chartis Center for Rural Health study, Rural Health Safety Net Under Renewed Pressure as Pandemic Fades, discussing several factors negatively impacting rural hospital finances and operating margins. Details measures and actions rural hospitals are taking to keep from closing, including the new Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) designation.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 8, 2023 - Discusses challenges rural communities encounter when searching and applying for federal funds. Highlights the work of the Rural Partners Network in the current communities they serve and how they share information to guide rural communities to federal funding programs.
Source: NPR
Mar 7, 2023 - Leaders in rural Transylvania County, North Carolina are supporting the county's home-based childcare providers through a network that connects and educates the relatives and neighbors taking care of the community's children and provides assistance to those who want to become licensed childcare providers in their own homes.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 6, 2023 - Researchers at the University of Oklahoma have received a five-year $5.6 million grant which will pay for counselors, social workers, and behavior analysts to attend graduate school, as well as cover fees and costs in the program. Graduates agree to serve two years in a rural, high-need school for every year they received program funding.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 6, 2023 - Describes challenges faced by rural hospitals as additional COVID-related funding ends. Highlights St. Vincent Health, a Leadville, Colorado Critical Access Hospital, which in 2022 was at risk of closing before receiving a $480,000 bailout from Lake County and an advance of more than $1 million from the state of Colorado.
Source: Fortune and Kaiser Health News
Mar 3, 2023 - Interview with Kristine Sande, program director of the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub), a clearinghouse for information, opportunities, and resources related to rural health. Describes RHIhub's history and current projects, and explores current issues in rural health and healthcare policy.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 2, 2023 - Provides brief summaries of recent Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) highlights and news from the HRSA regions, including the role of the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, the initiative to improve access to cancer screenings in underserved communities, the National Rural Health Association's annual policy conference, advancing health equity among Hispanic and Latino populations, and programs to support health workforce training, recruitment, retention, and development in Missouri.
Source: Health Resources & Services Administration
Mar 1, 2023 - Guadalupe County Hospital in Santa Rosa, New Mexico is in the process of converting to Rural Emergency Hospital status. Hospitals in New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma are among the first to apply for this new rural hospital payment model, which shifts the focus away from overnight stays to outpatient and emergency care.
Source: The Daily Yonder and Kaiser Health News
Feb 27, 2023 - Senators Jerry Moran, Jon Tester, Patty Murray, and Mike Rounds have introduced legislation to expand veterans' access to assisted living services. The Expanding Veterans' Options for Long Term Care Act would create a pilot program for veterans to receive assisted living care paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs, allowing aging veterans to live more independently while saving taxpayer dollars.
Source: Office of Senator Jerry Moran
Feb 27, 2023 - Highlights public transit programs in rural areas of Nebraska and Missouri. Services are funded through state and federal government, grants, local community funding and fees for rides.
Source: Nebraska Public Media
Feb 27, 2023 - Mississippi Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith and 12 colleagues have formally requested an extension of the Low Wage Index Hospital Policy. The policy allows rural hospitals to compete for and retain high-quality staff by increasing reimbursements to hospitals in rural areas with lower overall wages. Medicare payments to these hospitals will decrease after Sept. 30, 2023 unless action is taken.
Source: Office of Senator Roger Wicker
Feb 26, 2023 - Details how the sudden closure of Astria Toppenish Hospital's maternity unit, serving the Yakama Indian Reservation and a large community of farmworkers in the Yakima Valley, impacts access to obstetric and gynecological care. Provides statistics on maternity care deserts, factors contributing to the uptick in maternity unit closure across the United States, and how minorities are more likely to experience serious pregnancy-related complications. Describes practices and policies the hospital implemented to respect patients' beliefs and culture and local efforts to support maternity care. (May require a subscription to view the full article.)
Source: New York Times
Feb 23, 2023 - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services Director of Opioid Initiatives says the 12 tribal nations across the state have the highest overdose rate of any population. The Menominee tribe's new Drug Intervention Team brings together resources from health and law enforcement to fight fentanyl and heroin deaths.
Source: Wisconsin Public Radio
Feb 22, 2023 - Describes changes that are scheduled to occur in policies related to COVID-19 testing and treatment, emergency use authorization for medical countermeasures, liability immunity, Medicaid eligibility and disaster relief, nursing homes, SNAP benefits, student loan repayment, telehealth, and more.
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
Feb 21, 2023 - According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there was a 1% increase in the number of people overall experiencing homelessness from 2020-2022, but those in rural Continuums of Care, local planning bodies responsible for coordinating homelessness services in a geographic area, saw an increase of nearly 6%.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 20, 2023 - Food pantry managers expect that demand for free food will increase March, when temporary pandemic-era increases to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in 32 states will end. A higher percentage of rural people depend on SNAP than those in metro areas.
Source: USA Today, Kaiser Health News
Feb 17, 2023 - The north central Texas community of Bowie is partnering with a hospital system in nearby Jacksboro to revive a one-story hospital that served Bowie for more than five decades before closing two years ago. The facility will serve as a round-the-clock emergency and observation center.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
Feb 16, 2023 - A study from the Rural Health Research & Policy Centers examined COVID-19 deaths in December 2020 and January 2021, and found that the mortality rate during that period was highest in the Midwest and in areas with larger populations of Hispanic or American Indian/Alaska Native populations. The researchers also noted that deaths were highest in more isolated communities and counties with the highest rates of nursing home bed density.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 15, 2023 - Describes policy changes set to occur when the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. Hospitals will no longer be reimbursed an additional 20% for treating COVID-19 patients during the pandemic, and Medicaid recipients will have to re-enroll to ensure they meet the requirements for coverage.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 14, 2023 - Describes how Memorial Regional Health hospital in rural Craig, Colorado recovered from a financial crisis in 2019 and has devised a blueprint that may work for other rural hospitals as they face their own financial challenges. No Colorado hospital has closed in over a decade, but 16 rural hospitals in the state have had to cut services and 7 are at risk of closing.
Source: The Colorado Sun
Feb 14, 2023 - Simply Smiles Children's Village on the Cheyenne River Reservation in La Plant, South Dakota provides Indigenous foster care by keeping children in their tribal community instead of placing them in foster families away from the reservation. Cultural programming and mental health services are provided by hired trained professionals who care for the children in a village setting.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Feb 13, 2023 - Highlights legislative actions in 2022 to address aspects of EMS systems, including administration, funding, rules and regulations, systems of care, and workforce.
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
Feb 13, 2023 - A report from Chartis suggests that the new Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) designation could help some rural hospitals avoid closures but will likely not have a widespread impact on safety-net facilities. The analysis found that 398 rural hospitals are most likely to consider REH conversion and suggests that 77 of those are ideal candidates for REH conversion.
Source: RevCycleIntelligence
Feb 10, 2023 - Highlights some of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' policies to support rural providers, improve access to care in rural areas, and support the transformation of the rural health delivery system.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Feb 8, 2023 - Highlights ways that schools can use telehealth programs to increase access to mental and physical health services for students, including a program in South Dakota that provides virtual care services for rural students with Type I diabetes.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
Feb 7, 2023 - Describes a new program at UC Berkeley School of Public Health that will provide funding for 25 full scholarships per year for 4 years for eligible master's of public health students who will receive specialized training on rural health issues.
Source: UC Berkeley School of Public Health
Feb 6, 2023 - Discusses daycare shortages in rural communities across the country that prevent many people from returning to the workforce once they start a family and highlights a program in Stilwell, OK that is trying to address the issue.
Source: KCUR, Harvest Public Media - NPR
Feb 6, 2023 - Discusses the high turnover rate among full-time emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and efforts in several states to address critical emergency medical services (EMS) workforce shortages, which are especially challenging in rural areas.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
Feb 5, 2023 - Highlights the work of Josiah Hugs, a Native American liaison working with Billings Clinic, to bring attention to health equity concerns and intention to the care provided to Native American patients and their unique cultural needs.
Source: Billings Gazette
Feb 3, 2023 - A University of Michigan study found that women living in rural communities had lower rates of uninterrupted health insurance before, during, and after pregnancy compared to those in urban areas. Rural women also often have limited access to local obstetric services and live farther from care.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Feb 3, 2023 - Announces the unveiling of the Rural Data Gateway, a new resource to make the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s data for rural projects easier to access. The Rural Data Gateway will help USDA better target resources to the people who need them most in rural places and will help the Department be a stronger partner to rural people, entrepreneurs, government officials and other stakeholders.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Feb 2, 2023 - Announces that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will provide a total of nearly $315 million in grants to help communities provide housing and supportive services to people in unsheltered settings and rural people experiencing homelessness. Communities were asked to develop a comprehensive approach involving coordination with healthcare providers, other housing agencies such as public housing authorities, and people with lived experience.
Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Feb 1, 2023 - Announces Bolivar General Hospital of Bolivar, Tennessee along with CEO Ruby Kirby as the 2022 recipient of the Rural Hospital Leadership Team Award. The award recognizes outstanding leadership, responsiveness to a community's health needs, and a collaborative process that has led to measurable outcomes. Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, New Hampshire and CEO Don Caruso, as well as Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital and Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Oregon, and CEO Lesley Ogden, were finalists for the award.
Source: American Hospital Association
Feb 1, 2023 - Announces that Senators John Barrasso, Tina Smith, Marsha Blackburn, and Michael Bennet have introduced The Rural Health Clinic Burden Reduction Act to provide regulatory relief for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs). The bill gives RHCs guidance regarding the use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants, improves the ability of RHCs to provide mental health services, and removes outdated lab requirements.
Source: Office of Senator John Barrasso
Feb 1, 2023 - On January 26, 2023, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an order strengthening the procedures for the Rural Health Care (RHC) program. Includes rule changes, potential future rule changes, and other action taken.
Source: Universal Service Administrative Co.
Feb 1, 2023 - A study published in The Lancet says that premature "deaths of despair" have affected American Indian and Alaska Native communities more than white communities. American Indians and Alaska Native people were not surveyed in a 2015 study that looked at death rates for 45-54 year-olds from 1999-2013.
Source: NPR

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