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.

Capitol Hill Focuses on Expanding Broadband in Rural America

Washington, D.C.: Rural broadband is a hot topic on Capitol Hill this week. Both legislative bodies have seen proposals being floated to expand broadband focusing on rural America. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put forth their own proposal, the Connected Care Pilot Program, which aims to appropriate $100M to support the infrastructure needed to use broadband for better health outcomes. The FCC’s program focuses on helping low-income and veterans access telehealth and other...

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JRH Impact Factor Increases by 42%

From 2017 to 2018, the impact factor for the National Rural Health Association’s Journal of Rural Health increased from 1.74 to 2.47, a 42 percent rise. The impact factor reflects the number of citations of articles published in a journal and is a key indicator of the publication’s reach, use, and reputation. The newly released impact factor reflects citations from 2018 of articles published in the journal in 2016 and 2017.

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NRHA Provides Comments on CMS Guidance for Hospital Co-location with Other Hospitals or Healthcare Facilities

Last month, CMS released their “Guidance for Hospital Co-location with Other Hospitals or Healthcare Facilities“. NRHA appreciates this draft guidance since it signals a positive step for co-location at non-CAH (Critical Access Hospital) rural hospitals. However, we have concerns about the continued delay of guidance for CAHs, especially due to the importance of visiting specialists. Rural communities with CAHs rely upon visiting specialists, and it is imperative that the guidance...

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Trump Administration Announces Five Pillar Approach to Make Health Care Costs More Transparent

Today, the Trump Administration announced an approach to make health care costs more transparent. “The President knows the best way to lower costs in health care is to put patients in control by increasing choice and competition,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar explained on a call promoting the new executive order. There are five main pillars to the executive order, and two of them are directly related to transparency of health care prices.

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Rural hospital masters what many large hospitals have not

In 2002, Meeker Memorial Hospital in Litchfield, Minn. – population 6,500 – was at risk of joining the growing number of rural hospitals in the U.S. unable to maintain positive profit margins. But a single phone call may have changed Litchfield’s fate. In an era where hospitals of all sizes are struggling to keep up with regulatory changes and shrinking reimbursements while providing high-quality care, – all while delivering quality outcomes and high patient...

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Rural Health Appropriations Update

This week, Congress has focused on finalizing debates regarding FY20 appropriations, and NRHA is proud to report that both chambers are seeking to include funds for a variety of necessary rural health programs in their legislation.

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Rural Maternal Health Week

This week, NRHA dedicated its messaging to highlighting challenges and opportunities to improving maternal health in rural America. The NRHA social media platforms shared messages aimed at increasing awareness of the health disparities faced by rural moms throughout the week, and on Wednesday, NRHA leadership attended an event hosted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services titled, “A Conversation on Maternal Health Care in Rural Communities: Charting a Path to Improved Access,...

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A year in review: NRHA and All of Us

NRHA is excited to join the celebration of All of Us’ one-year anniversary, which officially occured May 6. In the last thirteen months, the program has enrolled more than 200,000 participants, roughly 152,000 of whom have completed all of the initial steps of the protocol. All of Us is a historic, longitudinal effort to gather data from one million or more people living in the United States to accelerate research and improve health.

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NRHA Supports Changes to Improve Payments for Rural Hospitals

In April 2019, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma unveiled a proposal to increase Medicare’s reimbursements to hospitals in the bottom quartile of the wage index by decreasing payments to hospitals in the top quartile. This week, NRHA met with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and other key officials to discuss how to ensure this rule will impact rural Americans positively. NRHA strongly supports this change since it will decrease wage index...

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NRHA Urges Congress to Support Funding the Rural Health Safety Net

The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing this morning titled “Investing in America’s Health Care” to discuss funding for various programs that are essential to the rural health safety net. The hearing focused on 12 pieces of funding legislation, including H.R. 1943, the “Community Health Center and Primary Care Workforce Expansion Act of 2019”, which NRHA has been following closely. The hearing focused on how supporting stable funding for...

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