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.

CMS releases RAC FAQ Page and Video

CMS has released a new RAC FAQ (frequently asked questions) page. In addition, this video gives a RAC 101 seminar, particularly useful for staff training or review.

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CMS releases FY 2011 proposed IPPS rule

Medicare payments to acute-care hospitals for inpatient services will decline by 0.1% or $142 million in fiscal 2011 under a proposed rule issued by the CMS. The proposed rule does not address inpatient hospital related provisions of the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act.  CMS expects to provide further information on the implementation of health care reform provisions in these laws that...

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Is the New Rural Hospital REC Funding “Intended” to Help All Rural Hospitals?

By Louis Wenzlow, Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative Last week ONC announced supplemental Regional Extension Center (REC) funding to provide technical assistance to critical access hospitals (CAHs) and rural hospitals with less than 50 beds. According to the funding announcement, this program is supposed to provide RECs with additional staffing and expertise to assist these hospitals in selecting, implementing, and meaningfully using electronic health record (EHR) systems.  This is of...

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Berwick to head CMS

According to the NY Times, President Barack Obama will nominate healthcare innovator Donald Berwick, M.D. to oversee CMS. Berwick heads the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in Boston, MA whose organization has featured the "5 Million Lives Campaign" and has significantly accelerated the pace of change in quality improvement in American hospitals.

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Berwick to head CMS

An administration official says President Barack Obama will nominate healthcare scholar Donald Berwick, M.D. to oversee the CMS, according to the Associated Press. Berwick heads the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in Boston, MA whose organization has featured the "5 Million Lives Campaign" and has significantly accelerated the pace of change in quality improvement in American hospitals.

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ONC Listening Session for Health IT Strategic Framework

The Strategic Plan Workgroup of the HIT Policy Committee will hold a public listening session on April 6, 2010, to obtain feedback on the Health IT Strategic Framework. This Framework will be a key input to the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan.* The objective of the listening session is to obtain feedback from the healthcare community regarding the Health IT Strategic Framework which will become foundation for the updates to the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan. The Health IT Strategic...

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House Passes Senate Health Reform Bill and Reconciliation Package

The House of Representatives, by a vote of 219 to 212, has passed the Senate's Health Reform Bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.    This means health reform has officially passed, and will await the President's signature before becoming law. Additionally, the House voted 220 to 211 to adopt its reconciliation package to the bill, which is intended to make changes to the Senate bill because of reservations many House members had with its exact language.  The Senate...

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ONC Webinar on Certification Program for EHR

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), will present a webinar on the recently released Certification Programs for HIT Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The webinar will be On March 25, 2010 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. EDT.

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Middle-class Uninsured: Barely Hanging On

This is "Cover the Uninsured Week" (March 14-20) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released today a stunning report entitled "Barely Hanging On: Middle-class and Uninsured." This report concludes what we all know to be true, that the two recessions of the 21st century have had a huge impact on people's ability to obtain insurance--and employers' ability to offer it. As providers across the country see bad debt and charity care numbers rising at an alarming rate, this report...

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CMS Issues Delay in Physician Supervision Rule

This notice was just issued by Amy Hall, Director, Office of Legislation, CMS:The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will instruct all of its Medicare contractors not to evaluate or enforce the supervision requirements for therapeutic services provided to outpatients in Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) for the duration of calendar year (CY) 2010.  The final 2010 hospital outpatient prospective payment system rule had specified that a “direct supervision” standard is required...

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