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.

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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House Leadership Strips Rural Provision from Final Health Reform Bill

Rural America has historically been underrepresented on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), despite a statutory requirement for proportional rural representation on its board.  Recognizing this inconsistency, Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) successfully added two amendments to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s markup of H.R. 3200, the House Tri-Committee’s original health reform legislation.  The amendments were to ensure proportional representation on both the MedPAC...

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Urban hospitals fret over treatment in healthcare reform

Urban hospitals are worried over provisions in healthcare reform that may shift dollars away from high cost areas of the USA to more efficient, less costly areas, the NY Times reports today. It seems that these urban centers may be exposed to the kind of treatment that rural providers have faced for decades. While NRHA has its reservations about a study conducted by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on regional variations in Medicare spending, it is important to note that generally, rural...

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Rural Health Reform - NRHA October Update

It’s an unusually warm October in D.C., which may or may not be a product of the heated behind-closed-doors health reform debate in the House and Senate. (sorry, I couldn’t resist that one) With all five Congressional Committees finished marking up their individual health reform bills, the House and Senate must now each agree on a single melded version to bring to their respective floor. The NRHA worked diligently up to this point to ensure each Committee, all with varying...

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Health Reform: The Rural Uninsured

Though the greatest barrier to a healthy rural America, as well as the NRHA’s main health reform policy priority, is access to coverage, it would be a mistake to overlook the disproportionate number of uninsured or under-insured rural Americans. Twenty-three percent of people living in the most remote rural areas are uninsured...

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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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