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.

Farm Bill Conference Begins

Today, the Senate and House Joint Conference Committee begins meetings to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate Farm Bills passed early this summer. The Farm Bill includes programs critical to rural communities. We have worked to ensure that Congress take steps forward to ensure the strong and healthy future of rural America. Spurring rural economic growth begins with rural hospitals, and subsequently, critical programs housed at the USDA and authorized through the Farm Bill....

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Update: Senate Passes LHHS Appropriations Bill

The Senate recently passed a bill with hundreds of millions of increases in rural funding. NRHA has long fought for these significant increases in the rural health safety net. The Senate’s package included legislation funding the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The House will now go to conference with Senate lawmakers on the DoD / Labor-HHS spending package instead of voting on their own.  

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Leveraging Technology to Improve Rural Health Outcomes in the Now and Next

Rural hospitals are often the lifeblood of their communities – which makes their closures noteworthy. By now, many have likely heard the data around rural hospital closures within the last decade: Since 2010, there have been more than 80. But if we push the timeline back just five years to 2005, the number of such closures increases to more than 120. Additionally, there are currently more than 650 additional rural facilities around the country that are at risk of closing.

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Labor HHS Appropriations Bill on Senate Floor for First Time in a Decade

This week, the Senate will consider both the Defense and Labor-Health and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations bill. Amendments will be offered on the floor of the Senate throughout this week, followed by a final vote.  

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Ways and Means Releases Red Tape Relief Report

This morning, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL), released a report reviewing the ways policymakers can reduce regulatory burdens in the Medicare program.

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Real Cost Control Strategies Save Millions

You might think reducing claim costs by approximately $3.9 million since 2008 would be the first thing a hospital CEO would mention when asked about the success of their employee health benefit plan. Not so for Rebecca McCain, CEO of Electra Memorial Hospital who said, “It can be all about the money but, when it's better for the employee, it's also usually better for the hospital. That goes without being said.”

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CMS Announces Proposed Rule for ACOs

CMS announced a major change coming for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in a 607-page proposed rule and a Health Affairs post from CMS Administrator Seema Verma today.

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Rural Hospital Closures Climb Quickly to Eighty-Seven

Over the last two months, the number of rural hospital closures has risen rapidly to 87 total closures (since 2010). In rural America, health care is a pillar of the community. It helps to create and foster a sustainable and livable environment for rural Americans, and without health care, without a hospital, a rural community will crumble.  

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NRHA Regulatory Comment Letter Update

NRHA frequently comments on proposed regulations impacting rural health to ensure that the impact of new regulatory requirements on rural providers is considered in the process. We recently posted the latest regulatory comment letters, written by NRHA’s Regulatory Counsel Diane Calmus, on Members are encouraged to read the letters and reach out with any questions.  

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FCC Votes to Approve Connected Care Pilot Program

On Thursday, August 2, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved a proposal to establish a new $100 million “Connected Care Pilot Program.”

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