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Rural Health
News by Topic: Policy

Healthcare Organizations Voice Worry over End of Net Neutrality
Dec 15, 2017 - Details the recent vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to roll back net neutrality regulations. Some healthcare organizations are concerned about the impact of this vote on telemedicine services and access to healthcare in rural areas.
Source: Health Data Management
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CMS: Medicare Programs: Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Systems and Quality Reporting Programs Federal Register
Dec 14, 2017 - Corrected republication of a final rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) revising the Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and the Medicare Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) Payment System for calendar year 2018. Included in the rule is a provision that reduces Medicare Part B payments to Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSHs) and Rural Referral Centers (RRCs) for drugs acquired through the 340B Drug Pricing Program. Effective January 1, 2018, payments to affected facilities will be reduced from average sales price (ASP) plus 6 percent, to ASP minus 22.5 percent. Among others, Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and rural Sole Community Hospitals (SCHs) are excluded from this payment adjustment. Comments regarding provisions of the rule must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern on December 31, 2017.
Source: Federal Register
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Rural Hospitals Feel the Squeeze as Medicare Extender Funding in Flux
Dec 13, 2017 - Discusses the impact of Medicare extender provisions supporting rural hospitals that expired on September 30, 2017. If Congress doesn't delay cuts to these programs by December 31st, reduced payments for rural hospitals could begin at the start of the year. (May require registration for full article.)
Source: Modern Healthcare
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Sen. Hatch Pushes Bipartisan Effort to Renew Funding for Rural Counties, Schools
Dec 7, 2017 - Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are leading a bi-partisan group of 32 senators advocating for a re-authorization of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Program to be included in any legislation proposed before the end of the year. The SRS program, which supports public schools, emergency services, and other essential services for more than 775 rural counties, expired in September of this year.
Source: KUTV
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USDA Promises New SNAP Flexibilities to Promote Self-Sufficiency
Dec 5, 2017 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will offer states greater local control over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in an effort to promote self-sufficiency, integrity, and customer service. Specifics on these new flexibilities will be communicated to state agencies in the coming weeks.
Source: United States Department of Agriculture
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CMS: Medicare Program; Cancellation of Advancing Care Coordination Through Episode Payment and Cardiac Rehabilitation Incentive Payment Models; Changes to Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Payment Model: Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Policy for the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Payment Model Federal Register
Dec 1, 2017 - Final rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) cancelling the Episode Payment Models (EPMs) and Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) Incentive Payment Model. The rule also finalizes revisions to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model, making participation in CJR voluntary for all low-volume and rural hospitals, regardless of geographic location. Additionally, the included interim final rule provides flexibility when determining episode costs for providers located in areas affected by extreme circumstances, such as hurricanes, in 2017. Comments regarding provisions of the interim final rule must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern on January 30, 2018. Additional information is available on the November 30, 2017, CMS fact sheet.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS Finalizes Changes to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model, Cancels Episode Payment Models and Cardiac Rehabilitation Incentive Payment Model
Nov 30, 2017 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented changes to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model. CMS also finalized the cancellation of the mandatory hip fracture and cardiac bundled payment models that were to be operated by the CMS Innovation Center. A fact sheet is available.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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CMS Releases Its Measures Under Consideration List for 2018 Pre-Rulemaking
Nov 30, 2017 - Blog post from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announcing that they have released the annual list of quality and cost measures that are under consideration for Medicare quality reporting and value-based purchasing programs. CMS collaborates with the National Quality Forum (NQF) to get input from stakeholders on this list in order to provide more high quality care and achieve better individual outcomes.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Blog
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CMS: Medicare Program; Contract Year 2019 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage, Medicare Cost Plan, Medicare Fee-for-Service, the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs, and the PACE Program Federal Register
Nov 28, 2017 - Proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that would revise Medicare Advantage (Part C) and Prescription Drug Benefit (Part D) regulations to implement certain provisions contained in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act. The proposed rule also clarifies the "any willing pharmacy" requirement, which may work to support independent community pharmacies often found in rural areas, and improve rural beneficiaries' access to specialty drugs. Comments regarding provisions of the rule must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern on January 16, 2018. Additional information is available on the November 16, 2017, CMS fact sheet.
Source: Federal Register
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Industry Voices—the FCC's Rural Health Care Fund Is a Victim of Its Own Success
Nov 27, 2017 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a proposal to increase the $400 million annual cap on the Rural Health Care Fund. Among other things, this proposal would target funding to rural and tribal healthcare providers and prioritize the distribution of grants based on remoteness, type of service requested, whether the funding will come from the Telecom Program or the Healthcare Connect Fund, and the economic need of the provider's population.
Source: FierceHealthcare
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