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.

CMS Announces 340B Reimbursement Cuts with Rural Exemptions

NRHA is pleased that CMS recognizes the critical importance of the 340B drug program to rural Sole Communities Hospitals and has protected these rural hospitals from payment cuts implemented in the Outpatient Prospective Payment System final rule released yesterday.  The 340B Drug Discount Program is a life-line for so many rural hospitals who financially struggle, and has allowed rural facilities to maintain vital services such as cancer treatments and obstetrics care to rural patients...

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NRHA Participates in Regulatory Reform Listening Session with CMS Administrator Seema Verma

NRHA met with CMS Administrator Seema Verma and other stakeholders to discuss the important work of reducing regulatory reform.

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Medicare Extenders: One Month After Expiration

Several critically important rural Medicare “extenders” expired on October 1, 2017 without any Congressional intervention.  If Congress doesn’t act soon, rural health providers across the nation will be hit with hundreds of millions of dollars in reimbursement cuts.  If Congress allows this to continue, many rural facilities will close, exacerbating the current rural hospital closure crisis. (Already 80 rural hospitals have closed since 2010 and 673 rural hospitals...

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President Trump Declares National Emergency on Opioids

Yesterday, President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency on the opioid epidemic. It is estimated that as many as 2.5 million people in the US are suffering from opioid addiction related to prescriptions, and an additional 467,000 are addicted to heroin. These numbers are especially intimidating given the unique challenges rural communities face. While all states have reported increases in opioid mortality and injury, the largest increases are reported in heavily rural states...

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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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