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Rural Health Policy News

News stories from the past 60 days.

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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E&C Advances 57 Total Bills to Combat the Opioid Crisis, Clearing Path to House Floor
May 17, 2018 - The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a total of 57 bills related to combating the opioid epidemic to the House floor for consideration. 32 of those bills were advanced this week, and 25 were advanced last week.
Source: The U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee
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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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HHS, CMS: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2019; Correction Federal Register
May 11, 2018 - Makes technical corrections to an April 17, 2018 final rule on Federally-facilitated health insurance exchanges and State exchanges on the federal platform. The final rule will go into effect on June 18, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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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 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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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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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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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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CMS: Medicare Program: FY 2019 Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities Prospective Payment System and Quality Reporting Updates for Fiscal Year Beginning October 1, 2018 (FY 2019) Federal Register
May 8, 2018 - Notice of a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to update FY 2019 prospective payment rates for inpatient hospital services provided by inpatient psychiatric facilities, including extended units of acute care or Critical Access Hospitals. Also updates quality measures and includes a request for information related to health information technology, among other things. Comments on the proposed rule are due June 26, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS: Medicare Program: Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Prospective Payment System for Federal Fiscal Year 2019 Federal Register
May 8, 2018 - Notice of a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to update prospective payment rates for inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRF) for FY 2109. Also seeks comment on removing the face-to-face requirement for rehabilitation physician visits and expands the use of nurse practitioners and physician assistants to meet IRF requirements. Comments on the proposed rule are due by June 26, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS: Medicare Program; Prospective Payment System and Consolidated Billing for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) Proposed Rule for FY 2019, SNF Value-Based Purchasing Program, and SNF Quality Reporting Program Federal Register
May 8, 2018 - Notice of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed rule to update FY 2019 payment rates for skilled nursing facilities (SNF) under the prospective payment system. Also includes updates to the SNF Quality Reporting Program and Value-Based Purchasing Program, among other things. Comments on the proposed rule are due by June 26, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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CMS: Medicare Program: Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals and the Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System and Proposed Policy Changes and Fiscal Year 2019 Rates; Proposed Quality Reporting Requirements for Specific Providers; Proposed Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs (Promoting Interoperability Programs) Requirements for Eligible Hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals, and Eligible Professionals; Medicare Cost Reporting Requirements; and Physician Certification and Recertification of Claims Federal Register
May 7, 2018 - Notice from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services seeking comment on a proposed rule to revise the Medicare Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems (IPPS) for operating and capital related costs of acute care hospitals and to update payment policies and rates for inpatient services provided by long-term care hospitals. Also includes new requirements for eligible health professionals, hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals participating in Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs, among other things. Includes implications for rural facilities throughout. Comments on the proposed rule are due by June 25, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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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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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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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: Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request Federal Register
Apr 26, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is seeking comment by June 25, 2018 on an extension of a currently approved collection for Skilled Nursing Facilities participating in the Medicare program and their related cost reports.
Source: Federal Register
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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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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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HHS, CMS: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2019; Rule Federal Register
Apr 17, 2018 - Notice from the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of a final rule on Federally-facilitated health insurance exchanges and State exchanges on the federal platform. Includes information on risk adjustment and risk adjustment data validation programs, cost-sharing parameters, user fees, and flexibility to States to apply the definition of essential health benefits to their markets, among other things. The final rule will go into effect on June 18, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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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; Rule Federal Register
Apr 16, 2018 - Notice of final rule revising the Medicare Advantage (MA) program (Part C) regulations and Prescription Drug Benefit program (Part D) to implement provisions designed to reduce beneficiary misuse or overdose of opioids as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). Includes information on changes to improve program integrity policies related to payments in MA, Medicare cost plan, Part D, and PACE programs, among other things. Also includes CMS's response to comments submitted on the final rule, including its effect on small and rural providers. The rule will be effective on June 15, 2018.
Source: Federal Register
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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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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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CMS’ Final Report Shows 11.8 Million Consumers Enroll in 2018 Exchange Coverage Nationwide
Apr 3, 2018 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Final Enrollment Report for the 2018 Health Insurance Exchanges. Approximately 11.8 million consumers are enrolled in an Exchange plan in the 50 states and Washington DC.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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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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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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Secretary Azar Announces Appointments to Advance Department Priorities
Mar 29, 2018 - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar announced two appointments within HHS. Daniel M. Best will be Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Drug Pricing Reform and will lead the initiative to lower the high price of prescription drugs. Brett Giroir, M.D. will serve as Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Mental Health and Opioid Policy and will be responsible for coordinating HHS's efforts to fight the opioid crisis.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Last Updated: 5/23/2018