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.

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:"][/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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House Passes Health Reform - Is it Good For Rural? Yes...and No.

After over fourteen hours of debate on the House floor Saturday, the House of Representatives finished its final vote on the Affordable Healthcare for America Act (H.R. 3962). With a vote of 220 to 215, the bill was officially PASSED through the first of the two Capitol wings. One lone Republican voted in favor of the bill, Representative Joseph Cao of Louisiana, while 39 Democrats voted against it. Despite facing skepticism that they would not have enough favorable votes, leadership pushed...

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House Health Reform Update - Blue Dogs, Negotiated Rates and the Public Option

With the House’s final health reform bill finalized and released, health reform is one step closer to becoming reality.  Though the Senate has a lot of work to do, the House still plans on bringing their bill to the floor this Saturday.  For rural, the House bill included strong provisions, but also left some out.  However, were it not for the House Blue Dogs, the group of 52 moderate House Democrats, the bill would have been much, much worse.  Notably, the Blue Dogs, many of whom...

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