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.

HHS extends meaningful use of health IT incentive deadline

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it will extend, by one year, the deadline for meeting stage 2 meaningful use requirements to providers who qualify as stage 1 meaningful users in 2011. Under current rules for the Medicare portion of the electronic health-record system meaningful use incentive program created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,  providers who qualified for incentive payments as meaningful users under stage 1 would have to meet...

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Super Committee Announces Failure to Reach Agreement

Late Monday afternoon, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction announced that it was unable to come to an agreement prior to the November 23 statutory deadline for deficit reduction.  Monday marked the deadline to have a proposal scored by Congressional Budget Office and available to the public under “sunlight provisions” allowing the public to read spending bills prior to congressional action. NRHA fought hard to maintain the Critical Access Hospital, Medicare Dependant Hospital...

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Sebelius to speak at NRHA event

We’ve got good news. Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius has just confirmed that she will speak during the National Rural Health Association’s Rural Health Policy Institute, scheduled for Jan. 30 through Feb. 1. Additional members of the Obama administration and congress will be on the agenda for the 23rd annual education and advocacy event. Attracting more than 450 people to Washington, D.C., the Rural Health Policy Institute is the nation's largest rural...

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Super Committee Deliberations Likely at an End

Various media reports indicate that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction will conclude their work this afternoon without a final agreement.  The Committee was tasked with finding $1.2-$1.5 trillion in savings over the next ten years.  Various proposals included cuts and modifications to the rural health care safety net.  Some proposals even called from eliminating Critical Access Hospital, Sole Community Hospital and Medicare Dependent Hospital designations.  NRHA has maintained...

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Rep. Benishek speaks out to protect rural hospitals

Yesterday, during a special order called by Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R -NY), Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) spoke on behalf of rural hospitals and the impact Medicare cuts would have on rural patients and providers. In his speech, Rep. Benishek urged his colleagues to remember cuts to rural hospitals would cause rural Americans to lose access to medical care and hurt the local economy. He asked Members of Congress to exercise caution when considering reductions to Medicare programs, especially...

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Today - as always - we honor rural health professionals like you

‘Tis the season to celebrate. Join us today as we celebrate the National Rural Health Day. The National Rural Health Association, in its continued efforts to recognize achievements in rural health, joins the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health and others in observing National Rural Health Day. This day honors those who have dedicated their time and resources to ensure accessible, quality care for the nearly 62 million people who call rural America home. Today for...

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Tell your Member of Congress to protect rural hospitals in today's floor debate

Today, on National Rural Health Day, the House of Representatives will debate the devastating impact of proposals to cut hospital funding as part of deficit reduction plans.  These draconian cut proposals are disproportionately harmful to rural hospitals and will result in rural hospital closures, hurting patient access to care and the rural economy.   Your action is needed now to contact your Member of Congress and urge him/her to speak out on the House Floor against rural hospital cuts.  ...

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Rural Health Clinics legislation introduced on National Rural Health Day

Today, on National Rural Health Day, Representatives Aaron Schock (R-IL), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) and Greg Walden (R-OR) sponsored legislation that would allow Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) to be eligible for Electronic Health Record (EHR) initiative payments though Medicare. Currently, RHCs are not eligible for EHR payments due to their unique reimbursement structure. Under this new legislation, rural Americans, who per capita are older...

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National Provider Call today: Medicare Shared Savings Program

Join the National Provider Call today at 1:30 p.m. ET to learn the application process for the Shared Savings Program and Advance Payment Model. A question and answer session will follow the presentation. To receive the call-in information please visit http://www.eventsvc.com/blhtechnologies by 12 p.m. today.  From the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services: On Thursday, Oct 20, CMS issued a final rule under the Affordable Care Act to establish the Medicare Shared Savings Program...

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Supreme Court to hear argument about health care reform

The Supreme Court announced Monday it would hear challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act next March. According to media reports, the court will hold more than five hours of oral argument to decide the constitutionality of the health care law’s requirement for individuals to buy insurance. The individual mandate begins in 2014. Twenty-six states, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and the Justice Department petitioned the court to review the...

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