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 Proposed Rule Excludes CAHs from Medicaid Incentives

by Louis Wenzlow, Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative On December 30th, CMS released its proposed rule for the ARRA electronic health record incentive program. Among the issues in the proposed rule that will impact rural providers is that CMS has decided to exclude critical access hospitals (CAHs) from participating in the Medicaid portion of the incentive program. Numerous studies have indicated that CAHs have significantly lower EHR adoption rates than general hospitals, as well as...

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CMS and ONC Issue Regulations Proposing a Definition of ‘Meaningful Use’

The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) encourage public comment on two regulations issued yesterday that lay a foundation for improving quality, efficiency and safety through meaningful use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. The regulations will help implement the EHR incentive programs enacted under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). The...

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Help Wanted: Skilled Health IT Workforce to Modernize Health Care

A Message from Dr. David Blumenthal, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology As health care providers and hospitals across the nation incorporate electronic health records into routine patient care, the demand for highly skilled health IT professionals will rapidly grow.  We will need a workforce that not only understands the technology and how it functions, but also its implications for patient care and workflow in clinical settings.  When my practice implemented...

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White House Unveils $182 Million for Broadband

[caption id="attachment_388" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Vice President Joe Biden (Photo Credit: Whitehouse.gov)"][/caption] Vice-President Joe Biden will announce in Georgia today the the release of Stimulus broadband grants and loans for underserved communities.  The funding will be available to schools and hospitals to expand affordable access to broadband internet connections, and is the cornerstone of achieving wide-spread health information technology (HIT) adoption in...

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Health Reform Coverage vs. Access: Dealing with the Influx of Newly Covered Rural Patients

The Senate started this snowy D.C. morning with yet another day of floor debate in an unusual, but seemingly becoming more common, Saturday session.  The week was spent debating Medicare Advantage, long term care, home health and many other important issues, but has yet to move beyond the broader topic of insurance coverage. As the NRHA has stated since the very beginning, reducing the number of total uninsured is important, but not as important as bridging the gap in ACCESS to providers. ...

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ONC Announces HIT Grant Program

Why the digital divide is likely to expand under ARRA

NRHA has long been concerned about the unintended effects of the HIT provisions of ARRA on rural providers. This editorial summarizes the issues and potential consequences of flawed public policy. Also, David Blumenthal, M.D., Director of the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT posted a blog entry in response to mounting criticism over the high expectations of reward from ARRA's investment in HIT states, "Information is the lifeblood of medicine.  HIT is its circulatory system.  A...

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Important Rural Health Reform Amendments for the Senate Floor

Senate Votes, Succeeds, on Cloture Vote

Rural Veterans - Honoring...and Covering?...Those Who Serve

On this Veterans Day, we take a break to honor brave, honorable Americans past, present and future.  Though we often refer to our Capitol Hill strategy as a "fight" for rural health reform, this effort is minuscule next to that of our courageous veterans who have fought for our ability to go about our daily routines.  So first and foremost, the NRHA offers our humble, sincere appreciation and gratitude to all veterans who so selflessly put our safety - the safety of our nation - before their...

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