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.

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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Updated: NRHA Exclusion from HPSA/MUP Committee

[caption id="attachment_559" align="alignleft" width="129" caption="US HPSA Map (Primary Care)  Source: Rural Assistance Center"][/caption] Last week we posted about the NRHA's exclusion from the HRSA committee to develop new recommendations for updating HPSA and MUP designation criteria. We have received overwhelming response from NRHA members and others in the rural health community who have offered to help contact HRSA or their...

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NRHA Excluded from HPSA/MUP Committee

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently released its list of members for its Committee to update Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Population (MUP) designations. Notably absent from this list, however, is an NRHA representative.  We hope this was merely an oversight on behalf of HRSA, whose original guidance specifically included the NRHA on its list of proposed participants, which according to HRSA would "represent all types of...

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MedPAC appointments announced by GAO

The General Accounting Office (GAO) announnced May 14, 2010 the appointment of four new Commissioners and the re-appointment of two existing members to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). NRHA congratuates Thomas Dean, M.D., a rural family physician of Wessington Springs, SD and Herb Kuhn, President and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association on their re-appointments. NRHA still remains concerned about the notable lack of  rural representation on MedPAC and urges Congress and...

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FQHC/CAH collaboration manual released

HRSA has released a manual entitled, Effective Collaboration Between Critical Access Hospitals and Federally Qualified Health Centers.   "With health centers and Critical Access Hospitals both facing increasing demand for services, the need for collaboration has never been greater.  Our goal, at HRSA, is to encourage strong partnerships between community health centers and Critical Access Hospitals," said Mary Wakefield, HRSA Administrator. This manual is intended to assist providers in ideas...

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Beacon Communities Announced

Washington, D.C. - Vice President Biden and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the selection of 15 communities across the country to serve as pilot communities for eventual wide-scale use of health information technology through the Beacon Community program.  The $220 million in Recovery Act awards will not only help achieve meaningful and measurable improvements in health care quality, safety and efficiency in the selected communities, but also help...

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