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.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use NPRM Released

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Stage 2 meaningful use was posted to the Office of the Federal Register today. The proposed rule outlines the next stage of meaningful use for the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs, which are administered by CMS. CMS has developed a fact sheet to give providers an overview of the rule and how Stage 2 expands upon Stage 1 of meaningful use. NRHA Member Louis Wenzlow of RWHC has posted a summary of the NPRM, as well. Comments...

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House and Senate Approve Payroll Tax Conference Report

In votes taken Friday morning, the House and Senate approved the Payroll Tax Conference Committee's Conference Report extending a number of rural Medicare Extenders and updating the sustainable growth rate (SGR).  Several of these critical rural Medicare provisions were seriously threatened in recent months but, because of your advocacy and persistence, NRHA was successful in making sure a number of the provisions were included in the final package: Ten-month extension of outpatient hold...

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Final Agreement on Rural Medicare Provisions Reached

Rural Victories Several critical rural Medicare provisions are included in a bill to be voted on by Congress as early as Friday. Many of these provisions were seriously threatened in recent months but, because of your advocacy and persistence, NRHA was successful in making sure a number of these provisions were included in the final package, which temporarily addresses a number of tax and Medicare provisions. Of particular importance, a ten-month extension of the outpatient hold...

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Tentative Agreement Reached by Payroll Tax Conference Committee

Various media outlets report that the Payroll Tax Conference Committee reached a tentative agreement to extend several expiring tax and Medicare provisions late Tuesday night.  The agreement would avoid the expiration of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) or "Doc Fix", extend expiring tax provisions, and reform unemployment insurance. The Conference Committee was also tasked with considering a number of expiring rural Medicare "extenders". Failure to extend these vital provisions will harm...

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Call to Action: Protect and Extend Vital Rural Medicare Programs

Congress has enacted a number of programs that help rural providers face the inherent challenges in the rural delivery system. Many of these provisions are set to expire at various points during 2012, many at the end of the February. Failure to extend these vital provisions will harm rural providers and the patients they serve. These "extenders" are vital to ensuring that rural hospitals, doctors and other professionals can provide needed emergency, primary and mental health care. We...

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President’s budget cuts jeopardize rural health care safety net

The President’s budget request released yesterday allocated $76.4 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services, but called for cuts to the Office of Rural Health Policy, Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and Rural Health Flexibility Grants. The Discretionary Program decreases in the budget include the Rural Health Flexibility Grant Funding Line, down $15 million. In 2012, Congress appropriated $41 million for the Rural Hospital Flexibility program, which consists...

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Cuts to Critical Access Hospitals included in President’s budget

The President’s released today includes cuts to Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs). According to the budget, “Medicare makes a number of special payments to account for the unique challenges of delivering medical care to beneficiaries in rural areas. These payments continue to be important; however, in specific cases, the adjustments may be greater than necessary to ensure continued access to care.” The Administration proposes to reduce payments from 101 percent to 100...

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President's budget for FY 2013 to be released today

The President's fiscal year 2013 budget request will be released today at 11:15 a.m. EST here. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Secretary Bill Corr will announce the HHS fiscal year 2013 budget at 2 p.m. EST. Watch the briefing live at 2pm EST at www.hhs.gov/live. Please continue to monitor this blog for updates and developments throughout the day.

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NRHA shows doctor-to-be real scope of rural practice

The job at NRHA was a stepping stone for Dustin Summers. And we’re OK with that. He worked in NRHA’s Washington, D.C., office for two years, during which he met hundreds of rural health’s finest and decided he could better serve rural America as a rural doc. In Rural Roads magazine, Dustin describes his memorable-but-not-necessarily-in-a-good-way interview at the National Rural Health Association and recalls receiving 41 rejection letters from med schools before another memorable...

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Rural Relevant Quality Measures for CAH's

The FLEX Monitoring Team (FMT) just released a Brief on rural relevant quality measures for Critical Access Hospitals (CAH). The purpose of the brief is to provide a set of rural relevant quality measure for policy makers and the rural health provider community. It is hoped that in this atmosphere of value based purchasing (VBP) and accountable care that this set of proposed measures can stimulate discussion and drive performance measurment of small, rural hospitals to another leve of meaning...

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