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.

August Town Halls -- Constructive, Not Obstructive Debate

[caption id="attachment_214" align="alignleft" width="208" caption="Congressman Barney Frank"][/caption] Faster than D.C.’s humidity, the health reform debate has heated up during this August Congressional recess. Most members are holding town halls in their home states, and as anyone tuned into cable news is aware, some are wishing they were back in D.C. But as Beth O’Connor, Chair of the NRHA Government Affairs Committee and Executive Director of the Virginia Rural Health Association...

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Get involved in NRHA’s policy making!

Each year the NRHA membership produces a Legislative and Regulatory Agenda that details the policy agenda of the association. As we prepare for 2009, we ask all members to take some time to read the 2009 Agenda and suggest any needed additions, changes or amendments. You can submit these changes via an online form.  Submissions are due September 3. The Rural Health Congress reviews the policy positions of the Association at its three meetings each year.  Anyone wishing to submit a policy...

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Images of the rural uninsured

The healthcare debate is heating up during the dog days of August as "town hall" meetings have turned into political theatre. It's poignant to look at the images from Wise County, VA and the Remote Area Medical (RAM) expedition that treated thousands of our fellow rural Americans with no health insurance. Listen to this sobering message that many are missing in the effort to reform America's healthcare system. As one who has gone to Honduras and Nicaragua on medical mission 8 times, these...

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House Energy and Commerce Amends HR 3200 to Ensure Rural Representation for Medicare Decisions

Rural champion Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR-2), representing Oregon's second Congressional district, successfully added an amendment to HR 3200, America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, during today’s markup of the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee. The amendment, which received a unanimous vote, ensures proportional rural representation on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), or on the proposed federal Medicare advisory committee that is likely to be created as...

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Health Reform Update - 7/27

HOUSE UPDATE The House Democratic health reform bill faced a setback last week, with opposition coming from key members of the House Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate House Democrats. The Coalition’s leader and House Energy and Commerce member Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR-4) says the Blue Dog’s opposition to the bill stems from its failure to contain costs, as well as its lack rural provisions addressing rural America’s access problems. Fellow Blue Dog Congressman Zack Space (D-OH-18...

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Congressional Health Reform – an NRHA Government Affairs Update

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee last week finished its fourteen day hearing to markup its health reform legislation, the Affordable Health Choices Act. With a final party line vote of 13 Democrats to 10 Republicans, the bill passed through Committee and health reform is one step closer to becoming a reality. That was one step, however, out of many…The Senate Finance Committee, also with health reform jurisdiction, has yet to release even a draft of its...

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U.S. News releases "best hospital" list

U.S. News released its list of "best hospitals" on July 15. Admittedly, the list is intended to reveal the "best of the best" for medical sophistication in a host of speciality areas. Our concern is that it continues to foster the impression that "bigger is better." Out of 4,861 community hospitals in the 2007 AHA database, only 1,859 were eligible for inclusion in the study. Rural hospitals are once again shut out of yet another ranking system. U.S. News also ranked an unique subset of...

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Meaningful use revisions released by ONCHIT

The federal Health Information Technology Policy Committee approved updated recommendations from its meaningful use work group on Thursday, July 16. Although their recommendations were in the right direction from a rural provider point of view, NRHA is very concerned that many providers will find these standards difficult to meet in order to receive funding. NRHA urges providers, both physicians and hospitals, to begin assessing their readiness as the 2011 funding period is only 18 months away.

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Obama's Rural Tour

As you may have heard, President Obama has launched a "rural tour" with members of his Administration to hear from rural residents about their concerns.  This is an excellent opportunity to talk about the importance of rural health.  We highly encourage you to attend and spread the message!  See the below invitation for details on the rural health stop on the listening tour in Louisiana. The list of other stops and their topics follows.You are invited to a Community Forum on rural health with...

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CMS Initiates Website Dedicated to ARRA

CMS has established a website dedicated to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.  The site includes information about Medicare and Medicaid incentives for EHR's and important links to the HHS. Some examples of documents currently posted on this site:  A CMS Fact Sheet pertaining to incentive programs and resources for privacy and security.

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