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.

Rural-based crisis hotline reaches veterans in need

The woman on the line wouldn’t say her name, only that she was driving to the woods to take some pills. Her husband and kids would be better off without her, she said, and she just wanted them to know she loved them. But the responder – one of 160 mental health professionals who staff the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) veterans’ crisis line – kept her on the line for hours while she drove. And gradually she began to share more about herself. She told the responder her name and...

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Members of Congress sign bipartisan letter to protect rural hospitals

The National Rural Health Association would like to applaud the 43 Members of Congress who signed on to a bipartisan letter from Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) urging the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to protect rural hospitals from devastating cuts. Those Members of Congress are: Leonard Boswell (D-IA); Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Reid Ribble (R-WI);Ben Chandler (D-KY); Larry Kissell (D-NC); Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX); John Olver (D-MA); Bob Filner (D-CA...

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Still time to sign on to bipartisan letter protecting rural hospitals

Thirty-five Members of Congress are asking the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to protect rural hospitals from devastating cuts in a bipartisan letter from Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO). Several proposals currently under review by the Super Committee target the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation and its reimbursement. Those proposals include reducing payments to CAHs, eliminating the CAH designation for some hospitals or outright repeal of...

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Protect rural hospitals: sign on to bipartisan letter

The National Rural Health Association encourages Members of Congress to protect rural hospitals by signing on to a bipartisan letter from Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Several proposals currently under review by the Joint Select Committee target the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation and its reimbursement. Those proposals include reducing payments to CAHs, eliminating the CAH designation for some...

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Senator Coburn's amendment defeated

The Senate voted 85-13 today to kill an amendment sponsored by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) which would have reduced $1 billion, or 40 percent, in funding from rural development programs for Fiscal Year 2012. The Rural Development promotes economic developing by supporting loans, funding infrastructure projects and building community facilities.  For most rural areas, financing assistance available through rural development is the only source of capital available to improve housing, community...

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Illinois Critical Access Hospitals urge Congress, Administration to protect CAH designation

All 51 Illinois Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) signed a letter by the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network to Members of Congress, the Administration, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and HRSA Administrator Dr. Mary Wakefield. The letter outlines their concerns for the proposed cuts to the CAH program and asks for support to keep the CAH designation, without decreasing cost base reimbursement or eliminating CAHs due to proximity to other facilities. The...

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Senator Jerry Moran urges Super Committee to protect rural safety nets

Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) wrote the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction a letter outlining his grave concerns about proposed changes to Medicare.  In his letter, Senator Moran explains that rural hospitals already operate in extremely low or negative margins. Cuts to the rural health care safety net would force these facilities to close, jeopardizing rural Americans’ access to health care. NRHA applauds Senator Moran for standing up for rural patients, doctors, and hospitals...

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Senators Conrad, Hoeven support Frontier States amendment

In a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Debt Reduction, Senators Kent Conrad and John Hoeven express the importance of the Frontier States amendment, a law that delivers more equitable Medicare reimbursement levels to health care providers in North Dakota and similar rural states.  In a video and press release from Senator Conrad’s office, Senator Conrad explains what this amendment would mean to rural health care. A press release, "Conrad, Hoeven Make Case for Frontier Amendment," by...

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Debt reduction proposals announced

With less than four weeks before the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has to strike a deal, Republicans and Democrats exchanged plans to reduce the federal deficit. If the Super Committee fails, across-the-board reductions will be enacted. According to media reports, the Democrats’ $3 trillion debt deals include significant cuts to federal health care. The cuts were presented Tuesday by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and are supported by...

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Super Committee meets, discusses discretionary spending

Today, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction held their fourth open door hearing since their creation.  The topic of the hearing was discretionary spending trends and caps.  The majority of the hearing centered around the topics of defense spending and revenue increases.  Notably, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf testified about the need to produce specific proposals quickly.  In order for CBO to score the proposals prior to the November 23 statutory deadline, Elmendorf said that the...

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