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.

Identifying Health Professional Shortage and Medically Underserved Areas

The Health Resources and Services Administration's negotiated rulemaking committee to reconsider health professional shortage area (HPSA) and medically underserved area (MUA) reconvened in Washington DC this week. Roughly 60 hours of committee work has now been completed, and many, many hours ahead before we submit our first report to the Secretary of HHS in March 2011. To date the committee has tentatively agreed that there should be HPSAs, MUA/MUPs designations going forward. (The...

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Rural Health Care Equals Rural Jobs

by Tim Size, Executive Director, Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, Sauk CityBeyond deceit and name calling on both sides, our recent election was about jobs. For some it was about not having a job. For many more, it was about the fear of losing one.  The election was also about huge government deficits. The stage is now set for a hard tug of war between job creation and deficit reduction. As politics and policies compete after the election, we who care about rural health must speak up.  We...

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The results are in...what does it mean for rural?

Depending on where you come in on the political scale, this week's election results were either demoralizing, encouraging, or maybe even a little of both.  Democrats all around the country faced a tough election night, and that fact was just as if not more apparent in rural America. The bulk of the Democratic House, Senate and Governors races took place in the Midwest, South and interior western states such as Utah and Nevada. In fact, the Democrats failed to win a seat in any one of the 11...

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ONC Releases Certified EHR Product List

[caption id="attachment_397" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Dr. David Blumenthal, Health IT National Coordinator"][/caption] The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has released its initial list of certified electronic health record (EHR) products providers may use in coordination with CMS meaningful use eligibility. The ONC's Certified Health IT Product List identifies the products that have been tested and certified under the ONC's...

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Uninsured Rate Rises in 2009

The U.S. Census Bureau reported today that the number of people without health insurance rose 9.4% to 50.7 million people in 2009, the highest number of uninsured since 1987. That represented 16.7% of the U.S. population in 2009 compared with 15.4% in 2008.

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Strategies for Implementing Meaningful Use within the Safety Net Community Webinar

This is the third HRSA Health IT and Quality technical assistance webinar in our series on Meaningful Use and its impact in the safety net population. This webinar builds on the previous Meaningful Use 101 and Meaningful Use Gap Analysis webinars and focuses on how HRSA grantees are implementing Meaningful Use within the safety net community. The presenters will focus on strategies their health facilities utilize for overcoming barriers and successfully becoming meaningful users of health IT....

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FCC Proposes Rural Health Broadband Programs, Solicits Comments

The NRHA released an initial draft of its comments to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed rule relating to programs intended to boost broadband access for rural health providers. The FCC has proposed two separate programs, and is seeking public comments on their implementation. The first, a health broadband infrastructure program, would provide "up to 85 percent of the construction costs of new regional or statewide networks to serve public and non-profit health care...

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Update: NRHA Hospital Outpatient Proposed Rule Comments

The NRHA submitted its comment letter to CMS this week on its proposed rule outlining changes to the CY 2011 hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS).  Included in the proposal are issues related to the operation of small rural PPS and critical access hospitals which could have a significant impact on the way hospitals operate. Notable provisions of the the NPRM included a proposal to address the hot topic of physician supervision, quality measures for emergency department...

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CMS Outpatient Regulation Comments Due This Week

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is accepting comments on the its proposed rule outlining changes to the CY 2011 hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS).  Included in the proposal are significant issues related to the normal operation of small rural PPS and critical access hospitals, and it is very important that CMS receive many comments outlining the issues important to them. The NRHA has developed a sample letter pertaining to the following proposals...

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NRHA Added to HPSA/MUP Committee!

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today a revised membership list for the Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Areas/Populations (MUA/P) negotiated rulemaking committee. The new list, which has increased from 24 to 28 members, includes National Rural Health Association CEO Alan Morgan as a participant.  Previously excluded from the committee, the NRHA fought to fix this obvious oversight by HRSA...

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