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.

President Obama’s deficit proposal puts rural hospitals at risk

Rural patients access to care is in jeopardy. Today President Obama called for $6 billion in cuts over 10 years to rural hospitals, claiming that the proposal eliminates “higher than necessary reimbursement.” Higher than necessary reimbursement? Currently, 41 percent of small rural hospitals, known as critical access hospitals (CAHs), operate at a financial loss. If the President’s proposal to cut billions in Medicare reimbursements hits these facilities, over half of CAHs would lose...

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Rival rural hospitals become EHR partners for patients

Competition is tough in Texas. And in four small West Texas towns within 25 miles of each other, rivalries are real. “You’ve heard of ‘Friday Night Lights,’” explains Rick DeFoore, CEO of Stamford Memorial Hospital, referring to a book, film and TV drama about high school football. “Two of these towns are fierce sports rivals, and you would think, ‘So what?’ But I promise you, it affects everything out here.” Money-saving water agreements...

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Appropriations Committees back to work

The Senate and House Appropriations Committees resumed their work last week on outlays for fiscal year 2012. With the new fiscal year less than three weeks away, appropriators are also debating legislation that would continue funding the government after Sept. 30, and avoid a shutdown as “omnibus” spending bills are not expected to be completed by that date. Appropriators are expected to recommend a six week “continuing resolution” to fund the government through mid-November. Both the...

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NRHA warns Capitol Hill about modifying rural hospital programs

NRHA sent the following communication to Capitol Hill offices this morning. Please contact NRHA Government Affairs at (202) 639-0550 with any questions. "Elimination of rural hospital designations will annihilate the rural health care safety net and access to care in rural America.  Recent recommendations to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction erroneously claim that these designations and their accompanying payment formulas discourage efficiency and value in health care.  This...

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HHS Awards $11.9 Million for Rural Health IT

The Department of Health and Human Services announced late last week that it would be awarding 40 facilities $300,000 each for Health IT development.  The awards, totaling $11.9 million, will be used to purchase hardware, software, and to train staff. In announcing the awards, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "We need health information technology to bring our healthcare system into the 21st century.  These funds will help safety net providers acquire state-of-the-art health...

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Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to Begin Meeting This Week

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction will hold their first official meeting on September 8th followed by their first public hearing on September 13th.  Director Douglas Elmendorf from the Office of Management and Budget will testify at this hearing.  The Committee will also discuss ground-rules for their work and procedures they will follow throughout their deficit reduction negotiations. The Joint Select Committee was created in the Budget Control Act of 2011.  It is tasked...

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Projects identifies, addresses rural health priorities

What works for urban doesn’t always work for rural. That was the first concern Jane Bolin, JD, PhD, Southwest Rural Health Research Center director and Texas A&M University Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health professor, had while reading the 38 priorities of Healthy People 2020, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-sponsored project that establishes objectives for health promotion and disease prevention to improve the health of all Americans over the next...

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House Appropriations Update

The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) altered the discretionary spending limits for fiscal years 2012-2021.  The bill included caps for both security and non-security federal spending.  The House of Representatives had previously passed budget allocations that resulted in security spending of $10 billion more than the limits in the BCA and non-security (including appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services) spending of $37 billion less than the limits in the BCA.  It is...

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Rethinking recruiting worked for one remote hospital

Ashland (Kan.) Health Center had seen 11 providers come and go in 18 years. For a solid decade, there was no doctor serving the 24-bed critical access hospital, nursing home and rural health clinic. But Benjamin Anderson, the hospital’s eighth CEO in less than two decades, had a plan with purpose. “Mission-centered physicians are at the top of their class,” he says. “You don’t go to Africa if you’re not motivated. They’re actively seeking a job with a...

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President Obama Holds Rural Economic Forum

President Obama will meet with rural business leaders, farmers, and rural organizations today in Peosta, Iowa.  This "Rural Economic Forum" is aimed at increasing innovation and economic growth in rural environments.  NRHA President Kris Sparks has been invited to the forum and will attend today. As part of the forum, the White House announced a number of initiatives aimed at helping the rural economy and rural communities.  Included in this announcement, are two initiatives aimed at...

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