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.

Real Cost Control Strategies Save Millions

You might think reducing claim costs by approximately $3.9 million since 2008 would be the first thing a hospital CEO would mention when asked about the success of their employee health benefit plan. Not so for Rebecca McCain, CEO of Electra Memorial Hospital who said, “It can be all about the money but, when it's better for the employee, it's also usually better for the hospital. That goes without being said.”

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CMS Announces Proposed Rule for ACOs

CMS announced a major change coming for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in a 607-page proposed rule and a Health Affairs post from CMS Administrator Seema Verma today.

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Rural Hospital Closures Climb Quickly to Eighty-Seven

Over the last two months, the number of rural hospital closures has risen rapidly to 87 total closures (since 2010). In rural America, health care is a pillar of the community. It helps to create and foster a sustainable and livable environment for rural Americans, and without health care, without a hospital, a rural community will crumble.  

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NRHA Regulatory Comment Letter Update

NRHA frequently comments on proposed regulations impacting rural health to ensure that the impact of new regulatory requirements on rural providers is considered in the process. We recently posted the latest regulatory comment letters, written by NRHA’s Regulatory Counsel Diane Calmus, on ruralhealthweb.org. Members are encouraged to read the letters and reach out with any questions.  

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FCC Votes to Approve Connected Care Pilot Program

On Thursday, August 2, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved a proposal to establish a new $100 million “Connected Care Pilot Program.”

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CMS Releases New Proposed Rules  

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have recently released two new proposed rules.

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Certified PAs Expanding Roles in Rural Hospital Settings

According to the Congressional Budget Office report, demand for primary care will increase 18 percent between now and 2023. This demand is hitting at the same time there is a growing shortage of primary care physicians, especially in rural markets. Rural hospitals have an urgent need to fill positions with primary care providers who can increase access to medical care in a cost-effective manner.

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CMS Fixes Flawed Reinterpretation of CAH Distance Requirement

As a result of NRHA advocacy and education efforts, CMS announced on an Open Door Forum today that they will ensure the reinstatement of the longstanding interpretation of the CAH mileage requirements. Specifically, CMS affirmed mileage will be based on the CAH and its provider-based clinic to another like hospital, and it will not be based on the mileage on the proximity to another hospital provider-based clinic. On today’s call, CMS also committed to reinforce the plain language...

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President Donald Trump Releases Plan to Reorganize Government Agencies

This afternoon, President Donald Trump released a plan to reorganize government programs, including those at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that are critical to our rural communities. As the White House and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director begin to discuss the released plan with Members of Congress, we ask that they ensure that any reorganization of programs under these agencies does not result in the elimination...

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Locum tenens model bridges a gap in psychiatric care

Mental health staffing shortages exist in urban and rural health care settings, but the problems are even more challenging in rural areas. Locum tenens psychiatrists are helping to combat the shortage of mental health providers in rural areas. In some cases, locum tenens physicians face large backlogs of patients in need of quality mental health care. With changing dynamics of health care and mental health care needs, locum tenens providers help fill the need.

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