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.

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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Think local - you can get involved in health reform!

Last week was another very busy week in health reform and now Congress has left for a week of recess in their home states and districts. However, this does not mean our work is done! Recess is an excellent chance for you to set up meetings in their local offices to urge them to support our rural priorities. They'll also hold town hall meetings, attend 4th of July parades and participate in a number of other activities that will give you a chance to reach out as a voter and rural health...

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NRHA and Rural Health Coalition Submit Letters to ONC

NRHA, in its letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT, objects to the initial recommendations on "Meaningful Use" as being harmful to rural hospitals and clinics. In addition, NRHA is a member of the Rural HIT Coalition, which also submitted comments on behalf of 16 organizations.

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Meaningful Use Definitions Hurt Rural Hospitals

On June 16, 2009, the Meaningful Use Workgroup of the Health Information Technology (HIT) Policy Committee released its initial recommendations for the definition of "meaningful use" of electronic health records (EHR). In order to qualify for incentive payments under the health care IT portions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), hospitals and physicians must demonstrate meaningful use of EHR technology. When finalized, the HIT Policy Committee’s recommendations will provide...

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NPR Documents Rural Health Insurance Gaps

NPR Sunday Edition aired a compelling story today, "Affordable Health Insurance Elusive In Rural U.S." Definitely worth the time to listen and read the background materials offered.

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NRHA voices concern over national health information technology program

NRHA and the National Rural HIT Coalition have each submitted a letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) in response to their request for comments on the May 22 draft description of the program for the establishment of HIT Regional Extension Centers. The National Rural HIT Coalition is composed of many national organizations with a rural focus, and NRHA is a member of the coalition. The responses address NRHA's sincere concern over ONCHIT's...

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Dr. Tom Dean

[caption id="attachment_62" align="alignright" width="65" caption="NRHA Past President"][/caption] Tom Dean, MD, Past President of NRHA, is certainly not afraid to call the current state of rural health care a "crisis." According to article published yesterday in the Rapid City South Dakota paper, “We’re into some scary territory... I think we are looking at a major paradigm shift in the way we look at health care,” Dean said. Speaking before the National Advisory Committee on Rural...

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