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.

National Minority Health Month: Health Disparities in Rural America

The Department of Health and Human Services honors the month of April as National Minority Health Month, an opportunity to highlight the unique needs of minority populations across the United States.  

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Innovation and Stabilization: Stopping the Rural Hospital Closure Crisis

Eighty-three rural hospitals have closed since 2010. Right now, 673 additional facilities are vulnerable and could close—this represents over 1/3 of rural hospitals in the U.S.  Today, 44% of rural hospitals operate at a loss, an increase from 41% just one year ago, and 30% operate below a -3% margin. In fact, the rate of rural hospital closures has steadily increased because of the sequester and bad debt cuts. Continued cuts in hospital payments have taken their toll, forcing more...

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Omnibus Bill Funds Government

Today both the House and Senate passed legislation to fund the government and various programs through the rest of Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18). This bill funds the government for the remainder of FY18 and follows the two-year bipartisan budget deal that was passed during the Policy Institute in February. That legislation funded critical rural Medicare Extenders and provided additional funding for opioids, while this legislation provides more specific details on how Congress plans to spend the...

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Treating the Opioid Crisis in Rural America

By now, we know the numbers about how the opioid crisis is devastating our nation and especially destroying our rural communities. While only 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas, a disproportionate number of rural communities are struggling with prescription opioids and illicit drug abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rural Americans are more vulnerable to prescription painkiller abuse and overdoses, and the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in...

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The Impact of Real-Time Decision Support

During high-stress health care events, providers of all levels (doctors, nurses, and paramedics) need to navigate the steps of evidence-based care and make the right decisions under pressure. When every second counts, having instant access to step-by-step decision support helps providers deliver the best care possible.

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Delivering Rural Babies: Maternity Care Shortages in Rural America

The number of rural hospitals without an obstetrics unit or any obstetrics care is growing at an alarming rate, placing expecting mothers at risk. 18 million reproductive-age women live in rural communities across the United States, and half a million babies are born in rural hospitals every year.

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Rebuild Rural: The Importance of Health Care in Infrastructure

Last week, we received further details on President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan. We were happy to see that rural infrastructure investments are a key component of this Administration’s commitment to growing our national economy. It is essential that we build rural priorities into this massive investment in our nation’s future, and it is even more important that we recognize the special role that health care plays in our country’s infrastructure.  

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Recent Updates Show Potentially Damaging Reforms to Medicaid and Medicare in President’s Budget

We have serious concerns regarding proposed cuts to Medicaid and Medicare in order to reduce government spending in President Trump’s 2019 Budget. The proposed plan, as sent to Congress, includes hundreds of billions of dollars in savings through Medicaid and Medicare reforms, in addition to cuts to various discretionary programs.  

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Congress Finally Acts on Rural Commitments, But What’s Next?

Since Congress irresponsibly let critical rural provisions expire at the end of September, the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has continuously requested that Members renew their commitment to rural Americans and reauthorize funding for Medicare Extenders and Community Health Centers. Last Friday, after a brief government shutdown, Congress finally acted on their promises to support rural providers and facilities. 

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Congress Ends Government Shutdown

The government shutdown ended yesterday evening after Senate Democrats and Republicans reached a deal on a short term funding package. The House quickly passed the legislation and sent it to the President's desk for a signature. The government shutdown began at midnight on Friday after members of the Senate could not break the 60-vote threshold necessary to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government open. 

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