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.

This Week's Capitol Hill Hearings

Wednesday, March 30:10:00 am: Senate Appropriations: Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies. Hearings to examine proposed budget estimates for fiscal year 2012 for the Department of Health and Human Services. Witnesses: Kathleen Sebelius-Secretary of Health and Human ServicesFriday, April 1:10 A.M. Subcommittee HearingLabor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee (Chairman Rehberg, R-Mont.) of...

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New and Important Legislation to Track

HR 1195National Health Service Corps Improvement Act of 2011Introduced March 17 by Reps. McMorris Rodgers (Sponsor-WA 5), Ross (AR 5), and McIntyre (NC 7)Referred to House Energy and Commerce Committee; no hearing scheduled to date.Bill would amend NHSC program to include optometry for purposes of loan repayments, scholarship programs, and primary care payments.HR 1187Fix HIT Act of 2011Introduced March 17 by Reps. Kinzinger (sponsor-ILL. 11) and Inslee (WA. 1)Referred to House Energy and...

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New/Important Legislation to Track

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Health reform bill: one year later

National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care Report Released by HHS

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released the National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care. The Strategy presents three aims:   Better Care: Improve the overall quality, by making health care more patient-centered, reliable, accessible, and safe. Healthy People & Communities: Improve the health of the U.S. population by supporting proven interventions to address behavioral, social, and environmental determinants of health in addition to delivering higher-quality care....

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Protect Access to Rural Hospitals

As you may know, the Congressional Budget Office recently released a report detailing ways in which the federal spending deficit could be reduced. One of their options, Mandatory Spending Option 24, suggests eliminating the Critical Access Hospital, Sole Community Hospital and Medicare Dependent Hospital programs. These facilities provide critical access to rural patients across the nation. To ensure this care Congress created special Medicare reimbursement rates benefiting cost-based care....

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Health Profession Shortage Areas

This week in Washington DC is the March meeting of the Health Resources Services Administration Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. This Committee's purpose is to reconsider how Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Areas (MUA) are designated. I expect to see some impact testing this week from some of our tentative decisions to date. That may help us also to gain a better insight on the Committee's ability to ultimately reach consensus on many of these...

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Meaningful use attestation: when is the best time?

Many hospitals and eligible providers maybe wondering when is the best time to certify for meaningful use? Louis Wenzlow of the Rural Wisconsin Health Coop provides a nice overview  of the factors to consider when making this decision.

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Update on Continuing Resolution

With the House of Representatives passing H.R. 1, a bill that would extend the 2011 Continuing Resolution to the end of the fiscal year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he intends to introduce a 30-day CR extension, given the drastic cuts included in the House bill. H.R. 1 eliminates roughly $100 billion in discretionary spending, including programs funded through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, making it the largest single discretionary spending cut in the nation’s...

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Negotiated Rulemaking - Progress

Another month, another meeting, but progress made… I am once again participating this week in the Health Resources Services Administration’s Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. This is the Committee that is reconsidering how the Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) and Medically Underserved Area (MUA) designations are constructed. The Negotiated Rulemaking committee was mandated by the 2010 Affordable Care Act. These methods (HPSA and MUA) are used to designate areas eligible for...

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