NRHA's Rural Health Voices blog offers informed commentary on the latest news in rural health care from NRHA staff and editorials from selected contributors.

Top critical access hospitals announced

The 20 highest-ranked critical access hospitals (CAHs) in the country, as determined by the Chartis Center for Rural Health, were recently announced by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). An awards ceremony will be held during NRHA’s Critical Access Hospital Conference in September in Kansas City, Mo. The determining factors for the Top 20 CAHs were based on the results of the Hospital Strength Index and its eight indices of performance: inpatient market share, outpatient...

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Rural COVID-19 relief summary as of April 2021

Throughout the fall and winter, rural America was disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the height of the pandemic more than 94 percent of nonmetropolitan counties were considered ‘red-zone’ counties, those with a new COVID-19 infection rate of 100 or more per 100,000 residents per week. Unfortunately, while rural America was addressing the pandemic head-on, relief stalled. From July until December 2020, rural providers were facing a disproportionate share of...

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NRHA outlines new Rural Emergency Hospital model

Rural hospital closures are at crisis levels with over 135 rural hospitals closing since 2010 and more than 450 identified as vulnerable to closure based on performance levels. Section 125 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 created the Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) model as a new Medicare provider type. NRHA believes the REH model will be an opportunity for vulnerable rural communities to maintain an essential access point for health services. It will be critical for...

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NRHA joins HHS' COVID-19 Community Corps, more

To reinforce the association’s dedication to health equity in the midst of the pandemic, NRHA has recently joined several national coalitions aimed at communicating vaccine safety and efficacy. HHS’ COVID-19 Community Corps aims to establish a network of trusted voices to promote vaccines. The Made to Save Coalition is a public education and grassroots effort to increase vaccine access in communities of color. And the COVID-19 Vaccine Education and Equity Project includes...

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JRH Recognizes 2021 Article of Year

The Journal of Rural Health (JRH) will recognize its 2021 Article of the Year during the National Rural Health Association’s (NRHA) virtual 44th Annual Rural Health Conference May 4-7. The JRH Editorial Board selected the winner from all JRH articles published online last year.

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How to review your utilization review in 2021

In today’s health care environment, there are so many barriers to success. For critical access hospitals, utilization review is the first (and often the last) line of revenue defense. With strict parameters (< 96 hour stays, high-acuity patients), discerning inpatient versus outpatient status could not be more crucial. Yet critical access and rural hospitals face clear constraints – lean staffing, less technology, limited size – that make utilization without effective...

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Representatives Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) introduce the Rural Behavioral Health Access Act

Today, Representatives Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) announced the introduction of their bipartisan bill: The Rural Behavioral Health Access Act. This legislation would ensure that Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) retain important flexibility to provide behavioral health services through telehealth after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Top rural and community hospitals announced

The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has announced the 20 highest-ranked prospective payment system (PPS) hospitals in the country based on an evaluation by the Chartis Center for Rural Health. The hospitals are identified using the Hospital Strength Index, the most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural PPS hospital performance. These hospitals will be recognized May 6 during NRHA’s virtual Rural Hospital Innovation Summit.

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Why rural hospitals should consider international nurses

The pandemic has brought much attention to the national nursing shortage. Hospitals have felt the pressure of limited resources to maintain safe staffing ratios while combating the devastating effects on patients and weary full-time nurses. Concurrently, the cost of travel nurses has risen sharply due to higher hourly rates demanded by companies that ration their clinical workforce to the highest bidder. Embracing an international recruiting strategy not only opens up a channel to bring in...

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NRHA Secures Big Wins for Rural Health in Latest COVID-19 Relief Package

Today, President Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. Thanks to the advocacy of NRHA and its members, the package includes a number of provisions to protect and promote rural health.

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