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.

Coalition for Health Funding releases statement on the Ryan Budget

The Coalition for Health Funding, of which NRHA is a member, released the following statement following the release of Chairman Ryan's budget: "In his budget blueprint released today, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan states, 'the safety and security of the American people is the first responsibility of the federal government.' The Coalition for Health Funding couldn’t agree more. But it takes more than just the Department of Defense to protect Americans. Federal public health programs...

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House Republicans release proposed FY 2013 Budget

Rep. Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, released his version of the House’s fiscal year 2013 budget on Tuesday. The FY 2013 budget proposes significant overhauls of the current Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP programs. Under Chairman Ryan’s Budget, current Medicare beneficiaries will be able to maintain their current service structure while future seniors will be given a choice of staying under a traditional Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) plan or joining a Medicare-approved...

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Senators prepare letter on rural health appropriations

There are a number of small but vital discretionary programs that help form the rural health safety net.  Especially in hard economic times, these programs play an important role in making sure 62 million rural Americans have access to critical primary, emergency and hospital services. Senators Kent Conrad and Chuck Grassley are sending a letter to appropriators in support of rural health care program funding in the Labor HHS Appropriations bill and the National Rural Health Association...

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2nd Annual RTT-TAP Conclave Assembles in Omaha

Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, RTT program directors, rural residency site directors, individuals involved in developing RTTs and current NIPDD-R fellows, convened at University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha for the second annual Rural Training Track (RTT) Conclave. The Rural Training Track (RTT) Technical Assistance Program is a three-year national demonstration program, which began in September 2010. NRHA is currently a lead partner in the cooperative...

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National Rural Health Association Joins Effort to Repeal Wage Index ‘Manipulation’

The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has officially joined with various interested parties in efforts to reverse the adverse national impact of Section 3141 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This section modified the "rural floor" adjustment for the Medicare reimbursement calculation of the "work component".  The "rural floor" and all calculations for the "work component" are done on a budget neutral basis; that is, when one hospital receives higher reimbursements, others...

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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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