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.

Tax Reform Needed to Help Rural Health Crisis

Rural America suffers from critical health care shortages, exacerbated by the ever-growing rural hospital closure crisis. Two targeted tax policies will go far in stabilizing fragile rural health care safety net providers.  

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Addressing community wellness with physical therapy

To ensure that we are addressing population health issues, innovative interventions that reach across disciplines is crucial. Utilizing physical therapy as a vehicle for safely transitioning individuals with multiple chronic conditions to a long-term wellness plan establishes a culture of health within the community and can reduce the financial burden on both the patient and the hospital.

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Alexander-Murray ACA agreement still falls short for rural America

The Affordable Care Act insurance markets are broken in rural America. Forty-one percent of rural marketplace enrollees have only a single option of insurer. Seventy percent of the counties where big insurers have pulled out of have been rural counties. This lack of competition in the marketplace means higher premiums. Rural residents average per month cost exceeds urban ($569.34 for small town rural vs. $415.85 for metropolitan). Despite these troubling numbers, the recent bipartisan...

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President Trump Signs Executive Order Changing ACA Market

This morning, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to allow small businesses to purchase what are known as “association health plans.” These plans are a form of insurance in which similar small businesses can group together through an association to negotiate health benefits. Association plans are not required to cover some serious medical conditions, and are overall less regulated than more traditional insurance plans.  

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Boom or Bust? Local nursing education in rural communities proving helpful in battling the nursing shortage

Across the country, the supply of nurses in rural hospitals is getting dangerously thin. Many don’t have enough staff to run their hospital, and their patients have nowhere else to turn. But for one hospital in the mountains of rural Utah, the supply of nurses provided by Nightingale College’s distance education model is critical for weathering the storms of the highly-unstable oil-based economy.  

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Eric Hargan Appointed Acting HHS Secretary

President Donald Trump has chosen Eric Hargan to replace Don Wright as acting Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary. Hargan was confirmed as HHS Deputy Secretary by the Senate in a 57-38 vote last week. From 2003 to 2005, Hargan served as Deputy General Counsel of HHS under President George W. Bush, and he later served as President Bush’s Acting Deputy Secretary. He was a member of President Trump’s HHS Transition Team.  

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CMMI Request for Information on New Payment Models

NRHA has responded to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s (CMS) request for information on potential new payment models to be implemented at the CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI).  NRHA has long advanced the need for rural-specific and rural relevant models.  Rural populations and their providers of care are faced with challenges that cannot be ignored and are uniquely well suited for demonstration projects through the CMMI.  

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Congress Holds CHIP Extension Hearings

Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee both held markups on the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  The program expired on September 30th, and many states with rural communities will exhaust funding resources by early 2018 without an extension.

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HHS Secretary Tom Price Resigns

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price resigned from his position on Friday. Price had served in the position since February 2017 when he received Senate Confirmation on his appointment by President Trump. President Donald Trump has asked Deputy Assistant Health Secretary Don Wright to serve as acting HHS Secretary until a new HHS Secretary can be nominated and confirmed by the Senate.  

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Congress expresses bipartisan support for the 340B Program

This week more than 200 bipartisan House Members sent a letter to CMS administrator Seema Verma to support the 340B Drug Discount Program and encouraging CMS to abandon the “misguided” and “flawed” policy proposed in the Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM). NRHA supports the 340B Drug Payment Program which supports rural Americans access to local health care including affordable medications at eligible rural hospitals and...

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