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.

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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Addressing Regional Health Differences: Border Communities

As we continue to discuss regional variance in addressing population health care needs and creating innovative new models, we must consider the unique conditions of border communities. Almost 30% of the estimated 30 million people living in the border region live in rural areas, and no different from other rural populations, they are on average older, sicker, and poorer than those in urban areas. The average median income in the border region is less than $15,000.  

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Challenges for Physical Therapists in Critical Access Hospitals

Physical therapists (PTs) are often front and center at critical access hospitals (CAH). In these rural settings, PTs must have expansive knowledge and a vast skill set to best meet the needs of patients and caregivers. A PT must know how to function in nearly every setting at a CAH: outpatient, acute, subacute, nursing home, home health, acute rehab facility, inpatient and outpatient psychiatric, emergency rooms, and more while addressing the needs of individuals across the life span.

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House Appropriations Committee Releases Labor-HHS Bill

The House Appropriations Committee released the text of its Labor and Health and Human Services (HHS) Appropriations bill this morning. NRHA submitted testimony and requests to both the House and Senate Appropriators requesting robust support for rural health programs. While we understand the current federal budget situation, rural health discretionary spending is relatively small but is vitally important for maintaining access to care for individuals living in rural America. The rural...

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NRHA on rural health innovation

Innovation has been essential to sustaining providers of care in rural communities, and as the single largest payer for rural care, Medicare has been the primary driver of innovation.  However, from the program’s inception in 1965, the vicious cycle of Medicare payment policy has forced rural hospitals to find creative solutions to keep operating. Accordingly, NRHA enthusiastically supports the Pennsylvania and Maryland Global Budget Programs.

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