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.

Debt Votes Scheduled for this Week

President Obama held a meeting at the White House Sunday with House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor to continue discussions on raising the debt ceiling. “[There is] nothing to report in terms of an agreement or progress,” stated Kevin Smith, spokesman for Speaker Boehner. Smith also confirmed that H.R. 2560, the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011, would be voted on today in the House of Representatives.With the debt ceiling negotiations stalled at the White House, Senate...

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Health Profession Shortage Areas

What are health profession shortage areas or medically underserved populations/areas? It turns out that these are not easy questions to answer. And the answers will have significant impact on rural America for years to come. The Health Resources Services Administration Negotiated Rulemaking Committee meets again this week in Washington DC. The Committee’s purpose is to reconsider how Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Areas (MUA) are designated for the...

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Monday Morning and Still No Deal

The weekend came and went without a final compromise to debt ceiling negotiations. The House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 2560 - Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011on Tuesday. This legislation would require certain cuts to appropriated levels for FY 2012, progressive caps on federal spending as a percent of GDP, and that a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution be submitted to the States immediately. This legislation currently has 87 co-sponsors but is a largely symbolic vote. ...

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McConnell presents debt back-up plan

NRHA sends letter to President, other leaders outlining negative impact of proposed cuts

The National Rural Health Association sent the following letter to the White House and Capitol Hill today. NRHA urges you to contact your elected officials now to further explain the implications to your rural community.

Help prevent $16 billion in proposed cuts to rural hospitals and frontier America

You can help NRHA protect rural patients and providers. House Republican leadership, as part of debt ceiling negotiations, has proposed $16 billion in cuts to rural hospitals and frontier areas. The plan includes: • $14 billion over 10 years to “reform rural hospital programs” and • $2 billion over 10 years to “repeal Frontier State Adjustments”. Rural hospitals are critical access points for 62 million rural patients across the nation. Such devastating cuts could result in more than $1...

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JAMA Article reports CAH quality concerns

The Journal of the America Medical Association (JAMA) released a report on July 5, 2011 entitled “Quality of Care and Patient Outcomes in Critical Access Rural Hospitals” which concluded that compared with non-Critical Access Hospitals (CAH), CAH’s had fewer clinical capabilities, worse measured process of care, and higher mortality rates for patients with AMI, CHF or Pneumonia. “The report is simply deficient when it comes to understanding the basic role of a Critical Access Hospital...

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NRHA Applauds Senator Tester for Work on Community Transformation Grants

NRHA applauds Senator Tester (D-MT) for his work on ensuring rural access to Community Transformation Grants.  According to statute, twenty percent of the Community Transformation Grants funds are to be allocated to rural and frontier areas. Notwithstanding this requirement, Federal Agencies have stipulated that only counties serving populations greater than 500,000 people will be eligible to receive direct funding. If a county does not meet this threshold, States, or their designees, must...

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The Dangers of Medicare and Medicaid Cuts as Part of a Deficit Reduction Plan

Much has been made in the recent weeks of the impending need to raise the statutorily allowed debt limit for the United States government so as to avoid defaulting on its commitments or shutting down Federal Agencies.  One of the most popular demands made for a debt increase is cutting expenditures in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Of the many dangers of cutting Medicare and Medicaid to the rural safety net, the most glaring are a loss of access to care for rural Americans and increasing...

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The Move to Meaningful Use

As part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) facilities that meet certain Health IT goals on the road to a fully integrated Electronic Health Record (EHR) are eligible, for a limited number of years, for bonus payments for quick adaptation of EHRs. If, after a number of years, facilities continue to avoid adoption of Health IT and EHRs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin withholding portions of the facilities' Medicare reimbursements. In March of 2010, NRHA provided...

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