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.

Health Reform Coverage vs. Access: Dealing with the Influx of Newly Covered Rural Patients

The Senate started this snowy D.C. morning with yet another day of floor debate in an unusual, but seemingly becoming more common, Saturday session.  The week was spent debating Medicare Advantage, long term care, home health and many other important issues, but has yet to move beyond the broader topic of insurance coverage. As the NRHA has stated since the very beginning, reducing the number of total uninsured is important, but not as important as bridging the gap in ACCESS to providers. ...

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ONC Announces HIT Grant Program

Why the digital divide is likely to expand under ARRA

NRHA has long been concerned about the unintended effects of the HIT provisions of ARRA on rural providers. This editorial summarizes the issues and potential consequences of flawed public policy. Also, David Blumenthal, M.D., Director of the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT posted a blog entry in response to mounting criticism over the high expectations of reward from ARRA's investment in HIT states, "Information is the lifeblood of medicine.  HIT is its circulatory system.  A...

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Important Rural Health Reform Amendments for the Senate Floor

Senate Votes, Succeeds, on Cloture Vote

Rural Veterans - Honoring...and Covering?...Those Who Serve

On this Veterans Day, we take a break to honor brave, honorable Americans past, present and future.  Though we often refer to our Capitol Hill strategy as a "fight" for rural health reform, this effort is minuscule next to that of our courageous veterans who have fought for our ability to go about our daily routines.  So first and foremost, the NRHA offers our humble, sincere appreciation and gratitude to all veterans who so selflessly put our safety - the safety of our nation - before their...

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House Passes Health Reform - Is it Good For Rural? Yes...and No.

After over fourteen hours of debate on the House floor Saturday, the House of Representatives finished its final vote on the Affordable Healthcare for America Act (H.R. 3962). With a vote of 220 to 215, the bill was officially PASSED through the first of the two Capitol wings. One lone Republican voted in favor of the bill, Representative Joseph Cao of Louisiana, while 39 Democrats voted against it. Despite facing skepticism that they would not have enough favorable votes, leadership pushed...

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House Health Reform Update - Blue Dogs, Negotiated Rates and the Public Option

With the House’s final health reform bill finalized and released, health reform is one step closer to becoming reality.  Though the Senate has a lot of work to do, the House still plans on bringing their bill to the floor this Saturday.  For rural, the House bill included strong provisions, but also left some out.  However, were it not for the House Blue Dogs, the group of 52 moderate House Democrats, the bill would have been much, much worse.  Notably, the Blue Dogs, many of whom...

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House Leadership Strips Rural Provision from Final Health Reform Bill

Rural America has historically been underrepresented on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), despite a statutory requirement for proportional rural representation on its board.  Recognizing this inconsistency, Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) successfully added two amendments to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s markup of H.R. 3200, the House Tri-Committee’s original health reform legislation.  The amendments were to ensure proportional representation on both the MedPAC...

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Urban hospitals fret over treatment in healthcare reform

Urban hospitals are worried over provisions in healthcare reform that may shift dollars away from high cost areas of the USA to more efficient, less costly areas, the NY Times reports today. It seems that these urban centers may be exposed to the kind of treatment that rural providers have faced for decades. While NRHA has its reservations about a study conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on regional variations in Medicare spending, it is important to note that generally, rural...

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