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.

Craig Thomas Rural Hospital and Provider Equity Act Introduced in United States Senate

On Tuesday, October 11th, Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Tom Harkin (D-IA), and John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced Senate Bill 1680, the Craig Thomas Rural Hospital and Provider Equity Act of 2011.  This bipartisan legislation includes provisions that would modify outpatient therapy supervision requirements, extends various rural Medicare payment provisions, allows for telehealth services across state lines, and provides long-term funding authorizations for state offices of...

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This Is Not a Drill: Speak Up for Rural Hospitals

Guest Editorial by Tim Size, Executive Director, Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, Sauk City and Past NRHA President This is not a monthly test of your outdoor warning siren. I have worked in rural health for over thirty years. We have never faced a situation as threatening as the federal cuts that may hit rural hospitals.   Senator Tom Coburn (an Oklahoma Republican) speaks for many when he said he understands the need to be careful when scaling back government spending. As he told Fox...

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NRHA Government Affairs Continues Advocacy Efforts

NRHA sent the following communication to Capitol Hill offices this morning. Please contact NRHA Government Affairs at (202) 639-0550 with any questions. "Various proposals to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction include billions in reimbursement cuts to rural hospitals. These proposals erroneously claim that they eliminate “higher than necessary reimbursement” to rural facilities. However, small rural hospitals, known as Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), account for only 5.3% of...

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Rural facilities targeted in deficit reduction plans

The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) calls for $1.2-$1.5 trillion reduction in federal expenditures over the next ten years.  A “Super-Committee” has been formed and tasked with developing the policies that will produce these reductions.  Rural hospitals have been targeted in various proposals to the Super-Committee and to Congress as a whole. The specific payment reductions advocated by each proposal vary and a number of groups have put forward various ideas.  Proposals include: The...

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Rural health impact of various deficit reduction proposals

The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) calls for $1.2-$1.5 trillion reduction in federal expenditures over the next ten years.  A “Super-Committee” has been formed and tasked with developing the policies that will produce these reductions.  Rural hospitals have been targeted in various proposals to the Super-Committee and to Congress as a whole. The specific payment reductions advocated by each proposal vary and a number of groups have put forward various ideas.  Proposals include: The...

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Improving rural hospital financial and operational performance

As a member of the Flex Monitoring Team, Mark Holmes, PhD, surveyed and interviewed critical access hospital (CAH) administrators on strategies that improved their hospitals’ financial and operational performance. The University of North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center director shared some of the successful initiatives with 650 NRHA members as part of the association’s 10thannual CAH Conference on Friday in Kansas City, Mo. [caption id="attachment...

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Obama Administration asks Supreme Court to review the "Individual Mandate"

Earlier this week the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to review a decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled the "Individual Mandate" was an unconstitutional use of the "Commerce Clause".  The mandate requires individuals to purchase health coverage in attempt to curb the growth in costs to hospitals, providers, and the government. The government argues that this a proper use of the clause that would end cost-shifting caused by uninsured patients who can't afford to...

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Announce Community Transformation Grant Awards

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced grantees of some funds in the  "Community Transformation Grant" program earlier this week.  A total of $103 million was given to 61 grantees including state, local, and tribal governments.  Grantees are tasked with addressing 1) tobacco-free living; 2) active living and healthy eating; and 3) evidence-based quality clinical and other preventive services, specifically prevention and control of high blood pressure and high...

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Physician facts offered during Rural Health Clinic conference

NRHA's conference designed exclusively for rural health clinic leaders kicked off today in Kansas City, Mo. Craig Hunter told administrators it's vital that they track patient satisfaction. On recruiting, he said: "Doctors want to walk into an environment that already has electronic records and where patient demand is already pent up. Your contracts need to set the expectation that the doctor needs to grow the practice too." Hunter also surprised some conference participants with...

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Senate releases Labor-HHS appropriations report

The Senate Appropriations Committee released its fiscal year 2012 Labor-HHS report. The funding for many rural health care safety net programs is similar to fiscal year 2011 levels. The Committee provides $10.1 million for State Offices of Rural Health, the same as the fiscal year 2011 comparable level. The State Offices of Rural Health program helps states strengthen rural health care delivery systems by allowing them to better coordinate care and improve support and outreach in rural...

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