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 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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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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