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.

House Energy and Commerce Amends HR 3200 to Ensure Rural Representation for Medicare Decisions

Rural champion Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR-2), representing Oregon's second Congressional district, successfully added an amendment to HR 3200, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, during today’s markup of the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee. The amendment, which received a unanimous vote, ensures proportional rural representation on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), or on the proposed federal Medicare advisory committee that is likely to be created as...

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Health Reform Update - 7/27

HOUSE UPDATE The House Democratic health reform bill faced a setback last week, with opposition coming from key members of the House Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate House Democrats. The Coalition’s leader and House Energy and Commerce member Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR-4) says the Blue Dog’s opposition to the bill stems from its failure to contain costs, as well as its lack rural provisions addressing rural America’s access problems. Fellow Blue Dog Congressman Zack Space (D-OH-18...

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Congressional Health Reform – an NRHA Government Affairs Update

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee last week finished its fourteen day hearing to markup its health reform legislation, the Affordable Health Choices Act. With a final party line vote of 13 Democrats to 10 Republicans, the bill passed through Committee and health reform is one step closer to becoming a reality. That was one step, however, out of many…The Senate Finance Committee, also with health reform jurisdiction, has yet to release even a draft of its...

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U.S. News releases "best hospital" list

U.S. News released its list of "best hospitals" on July 15. Admittedly, the list is intended to reveal the "best of the best" for medical sophistication in a host of speciality areas. Our concern is that it continues to foster the impression that "bigger is better." Out of 4,861 community hospitals in the 2007 AHA database, only 1,859 were eligible for inclusion in the study. Rural hospitals are once again shut out of yet another ranking system. U.S. News also ranked an unique subset of...

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Meaningful use revisions released by ONCHIT

The federal Health Information Technology Policy Committee approved updated recommendations from its meaningful use work group on Thursday, July 16. Although their recommendations were in the right direction from a rural provider point of view, NRHA is very concerned that many providers will find these standards difficult to meet in order to receive funding. NRHA urges providers, both physicians and hospitals, to begin assessing their readiness as the 2011 funding period is only 18 months away.

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Obama's Rural Tour

As you may have heard, President Obama has launched a "rural tour" with members of his Administration to hear from rural residents about their concerns.  This is an excellent opportunity to talk about the importance of rural health.  We highly encourage you to attend and spread the message!  See the below invitation for details on the rural health stop on the listening tour in Louisiana. The list of other stops and their topics follows.You are invited to a Community Forum on rural health with...

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CMS Initiates Website Dedicated to ARRA

CMS has established a website dedicated to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.  The site includes information about Medicare and Medicaid incentives for EHR's and important links to the HHS. Some examples of documents currently posted on this site:  A CMS Fact Sheet pertaining to incentive programs and resources for privacy and security.

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Think local - you can get involved in health reform!

Last week was another very busy week in health reform and now Congress has left for a week of recess in their home states and districts. However, this does not mean our work is done! Recess is an excellent chance for you to set up meetings in their local offices to urge them to support our rural priorities. They'll also hold town hall meetings, attend 4th of July parades and participate in a number of other activities that will give you a chance to reach out as a voter and rural health...

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NRHA and Rural Health Coalition Submit Letters to ONC

NRHA, in its letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT, objects to the initial recommendations on "Meaningful Use" as being harmful to rural hospitals and clinics. In addition, NRHA is a member of the Rural HIT Coalition, which also submitted comments on behalf of 16 organizations.

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Meaningful Use Definitions Hurt Rural Hospitals

On June 16, 2009, the Meaningful Use Workgroup of the Health Information Technology (HIT) Policy Committee released its initial recommendations for the definition of "meaningful use" of electronic health records (EHR). In order to qualify for incentive payments under the health care IT portions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), hospitals and physicians must demonstrate meaningful use of EHR technology. When finalized, the HIT Policy Committee’s recommendations will provide...

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