VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  March 27, 2017

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


Newsletter available





Summer Enrichment Experience 

VRHA member Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine has hosted the Summer Enrichment Experience (SEE) for 10 years now! Pleas share this opportunity for any high schoolers you might know.
This is a great opportunity for students who are interested in sciences, particularly anatomy, or someone who may be interested in a career in medicine. If you know of any current 9th-11th graders, please let them know about this as soon as possible so they can apply by the May 1 deadline.

The camp is entirely FREE!! And for students who live further than 45 minutes from Blacksburg, VCOM also provides a hotel stay for a limited number of students. The hotel fills up fast, so please get the word out soon!!

More information about the program and an application are available here.  Questions can be directed to Lisa Leichner, (540) 231-4428.

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Members in the News

From DelMarVa.Now

[VRHA member] Eastern Shore Rural Health has announced the appointment of a new chief medical officer. Dr. Tom Hollandsworth, clinical director at the Onley Community Health Center, will assume his new position as chief medical officer on May 1.
Hollandsworth succeeds Dr. Blair Chick, who is moving out of the area. As chief medical officer, he will oversee more than 30 medical providers, including physicians, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners. He also will see patients two days a week at Chincoteague Island Community Health Center once he transitions to his new role.

Read the full article.

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More Members in the News

From Shenandoah Community Health Clinic

Tickets are on sale now for the GLOW Festival, (Gals Living Out Wellness), scheduled for Saturday May 20, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to commemorate National Women’s Health Week, May 14-20.  Held at American Celebration on Parade in Quicksburg, VA, women will enjoy massage, wine tasting, health talks and “speed date a doctor sessions” (quick questions about those nagging concerns) along with keynote speaker, Elena Sonnino, a certified life coach, yoga teacher, cancer  survivor, and mom.

Hosted by [VRHA member] Shenandoah Community Health Clinic and partially sponsored by Valley Health, the $30 general admission ticket includes all the workshops and consultations, chair massages, lunch and a sampling of wines. An optional painting class will be offered in the afternoon and vendors will be available throughout the day with trendy items of interest to women. Tickets can be purchased through Shenandoah Community Health Clinic or at https: glowfestival2017.eventbrite.com

Read the full press release.

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Virginia News

Medicaid Changes and Children

By Dan Heyman - Public News Service

Advocates say that the changes to Medicaid that are part of the proposed Obamacare repeal would likely damage health programs for Virginia children.

One part of the GOP bill to replace the Affordable Care Act would cut the federal Medicaid budget and turn funding into fixed, per capita payments. Supporters have argued that states can do more with less, in part because those block grants would bring more flexibility.

But Margaret Nimmo Holland, executive director at Voices for Virginia's Children, said Medicaid is already lean and efficient. She said shifting costs from the feds to an already strained Virginia budget would mean fewer children covered, less generous benefits or lower payments to providers.

Virginia Medicaid covers about half a million low income children and about 16,000 low income pregnant women. Medicaid programs are known for having very low overhead - typically around 3 percent in most states.

Read the full article and related articles from the Commonwealth Institute, The Hill, the Cavalier Daily.

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Medicaid and the Governor's Race

By Michael Martz - Richmond Times Dispatch

Politics and policy are clashing in the Virginia governor’s race as Republican gubernatorial candidates embrace Medicaid block grants that some GOP budget leaders regard as a dangerous approach that could shift federal health care costs to state taxpayers.

Ed Gillespie, the presumed front-runner for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, told a campaign policy forum this month that he favors proposals to convert Medicaid from an entitlement program shared by the federal and state governments to a block grant that would cap federal spending on health care.

But the prospect of a Medicaid block grant alarms leaders of the General Assembly money committees who fear it would expose Virginia to hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of dollars in health care costs that the federal government would no longer share with the state.

Read the full article.

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Merger Waiting

By Zach Vance - Johnson City Press

If all had went accordant, Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System officials would be in the middle of a 30-day closing period before ultimately finalizing a merger between the region’s two largest health systems. But those procedures were abruptly suspended in January.

On the day the Tennessee Department of Health was scheduled to issue a decision whether to approve the hospital merger, Mountain States and Wellmont officials were granted more time to add additional information to their certificate-of-need application.

Read the full article.

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National News

ACHA Pulled

By Jenna Portnoy - Washington Post

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) on Friday said she would have voted against the American Health Care Act, breaking her silence on the measure hours before the bill was pulled from the floor.

Comstock, an ally of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, had been grappling with a dilemma: she campaigned for re-election to a second term on a pledge to revise the current health care law, but Hillary Clinton won her northern Virginia swing district by 10 points and her seat is being targeted by the national Democratic Party. 

In a statement, Comstock said she liked parts of the bill, but could not support the final version, in part, because on the eve of the scheduled vote, Republicans stripped requirements for maternity care, mental health services and other basic benefits. 

Read the full article and Comstock's statement on her decision.

THANKS TO EVERYONE who contacted their House members last week regarding this bill!

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Visa Policy Shortages

By Miriam Jordan - New York Times

In Coudersport, Pa., a town in a mountainous region an hour’s drive from the nearest Walmart, Cole Memorial Hospital counts on two Jordanian physicians to keep its obstetrics unit open and is actively recruiting foreign specialists.

Small-town America relies on a steady flow of doctors from around the world to deliver babies, treat heart ailments and address its residents’ medical needs. But a recent, little-publicized decision by the government to alter the timetable for some visa applications is likely to delay the arrival of new foreign doctors, and is causing concern in the places that depend on them.

While the Trump administration is fighting, in the courts of justice and public opinion, for its temporary travel ban affecting six countries, the slowdown in the rural doctor pipeline shows how even a small, relatively uncontroversial change can ripple throughout the country.

Read the full article and a related story from the New York Times.

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Insurance Drought

By Bram Sable-Smith - Daily Yonder

Darvin Bentlage said that given his preexisting conditions, health insurance became impossibly expensive — a problem because he needed more health care. So when the Affordable Care Act exchanges opened in 2013, he said, “I was probably one of the first ones to get online with it and walk through it.”

Insurance premiums tend to be higher in rural areas where the population tends to be older, poorer and sicker than elsewhere. And Maggie Elehwany of the National Rural Health Association said there’s another issue: 80 rural hospitals have closed across the country since 2010.

“We’ve got an access crisis going on,” she said. “What this House bill does is nothing — nothing to address the rural hospital closure crisis. You’ve got to understand that so much of that is linked to not only the health, but to the economic vitality of the community. If a hospital closes in a rural area, it closes for good.”

Read the full article.

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Outside the Doctor's Office

By Mattie Quinn - Governing

Kentucky Homeplace has become an innovative model for serving people in poor, rural areas. At its heart is the advocacy position. Those who enroll in the program are matched with a community health worker -- usually someone born and raised in the community. The health worker can assist with any number of things that might affect a person’s well-being, from getting them eyeglasses to helping them with food assistance to making sure they make medical appointments. “Those may seem like small problems for many people,” says Deana George, a community health worker with Kentucky Homeplace, “but I know I’ve made the process that much easier for our clients.”

After just a year with the program, George has several positive stories to share. She notes one proud moment of getting free cancer medication for a client -- a medication that can run up to $10,000 a month. “When I bump into [clients] at the grocery store and they introduce me to their family, I know I’ve made a difference,” she says.

Not only has the program helped get people into care, it has also seen improvements in diabetes outcomes and in cancer screening rates. Nearly 80 percent of participants receive colon cancer screenings, well above the 40 percent national average. The program, which now serves 36 counties in Kentucky’s Appalachia region, has also introduced a new low-dose screening for lung cancer.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

For more information about these and other events, visit the VRHA Calendar

March 27: Utilizing Virginia Medicaid's Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services  - Martinsville
​March 29: Utilizing Virginia Medicaid's Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services  - Richmond
March 29-30: 2017 Population Health Summit - Charlottesville
March 31: Utilizing Virginia Medicaid's Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services  - Charlottesville
April 2-4: MATRC Telehealth Summit - Leesburg
May 9-12: 40th Annual Rural Health Conference - San Diego, CA
May 9-12: Rural Hospital Innovation Summit - San Diego, CA

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CDC Rural Health website
The CDC has launched a website specific to rural health issues.  Find information on rural health basics, rural health data, programs to improve rural health, and success stories.

National Rehabilitation Information Center
Library of the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). Includes articles, reports, curricula, guides, and other publications and products of the research projects funded by NIDILRR.

National Committee Reports on Social Determinants of Health
The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services delivered its most recent policy brief to the Secretary of HHS, reporting on the broad range of factors that affect health outcomes in rural areas.  The committee examined these factors – poverty, access to services, economic opportunity, rates of chronic disease, homelessness, domestic violence, life expectancy – and reports that there are distinct rural considerations that policymakers must keep in mind.  

Rural America at a Glance
This USDA report highlights the most recent indicators of social and economic conditions in rural areas, focusing on the U.S. rural economy, including employment, population, poverty, and income trends.

CMS Medicare Learning Network eNews

Webinar Recording Available: Preparing a Strong Rural Health Message
Principal Investigators from the Rural Health Research Gateway and the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub) shared information about their websites and how to use the resources to develop a strong rural health message for decision makers, the public, and others. Attendees learned about the Dissemination of Rural Health Research Toolkit, and heard from Dr. David Schmitz on how he has used both websites to develop products and messages that made an impact on the health of rural residents!

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Funding Opportunities

For funding opportunities without a specific deadline, please visit the VRHA Resources page

Aetna Foundation: Cultivating Healthy Communities
The Aetna Foundation is dedicated to promoting wellness, health, and access to high-quality healthcare for everyone. The Foundation's Cultivating Healthy Communities grant program is intended to help local communities in the continental U. S. to become healthier places to live, with emphasis on projects that benefit underserved, low-income, and minority communities. Grants are provided to nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and federally recognized Indian tribes committed to improving the health of their participants by focusing on activities that align to one or two of the following five domains: Healthy Behaviors, Community Safety, Built Environment, Social/Economic Factors, and Environmental Exposures. Applicants can request between $50,000 and $100,000 for projects lasting between 18 and 24 months. Organizations with annual operating budgets below $250,000 are not eligible to apply.
The Stage 1 application deadline is April 14, 2017; Stage 2 applications are due June 16, 2017. 

Singing for Change Charitable Foundation
The Singing for Change Charitable Foundation is dedicated to supporting nonprofit organizations that inspire personal growth, community integration, and the enhanced awareness that collectively people can bring about positive social change. The Foundation provides grants to progressive, community-based nonprofit organizations nationwide that address the root causes of social or environmental problems. The Foundation primarily provides grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for projects that serve children and families, the environment, and disenfranchised groups. Priority is given to inclusive, grassroots organizations that rely strongly on volunteer efforts, where Foundation support makes a significant difference.
The deadline for letters of interest is May 1, 2017. 

Consumer Health Foundation
The mission of the Consumer Health Foundation is to advocate for racial justice and racial equity through programs and investments that advance health and economic justice in low-income communities and communities of color in the District of Columbia, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, and northern Virginia. The Foundation's grantmaking program focuses on the following two categories: Health Reform and Economic Justice. The Foundation supports the organizing of low-income patients and clients, workers, community members, and immigrants and their engagement in advocacy.
The application deadline for the Health Reform category is April 21, 2017; the deadline for the Economic Justice category is July 14, 2017.

Brookdale National Group Respite Program
The Brookdale Foundation Group works to advance the fields of geriatrics and gerontology and to improve the lives of senior citizens. The Brookdale National Group Respite Program awards seed grants to service providers that plan to offer new, dementia-specific Group Respite or specialized Early Memory Loss (EML) programming to participants, along with support to caregivers, in order to help individuals remain in their communities. All funded programs must provide a day program for people affected by Alzheimer's disease or other dementia, which is limited to those who are cognitively impaired. Grants of $10,000 will be provided in year one, renewable for $5,000 for the second year, based on evaluation of first year’s activities and potential for future continuity of the program.
The application deadline is June 15, 2017. 

Appalachian Community Fund: $30K for 30 Years of Change, Not Charity
The Appalachian Community Fund supports grassroots organizations working to overcome the underlying causes of poverty and injustice in Central Appalachia (eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia, and all of West Virginia). The Fund’s $30K for 30 Years of Change, Not Charity grant initiative will provide small grants of $500 to $1,000 to community-based organizations working for social, economic, racial, and environmental justice. The focus is on technical assistance and capacity building designed to help build strong organizations. The Fund gives special consideration to grassroots organizations with budgets of less than $200,000 that have limited access to traditional funding sources.
The application deadline is April 25, 2017. 

Rural Access to Anesthesia Care Scholarship
Scholarship for medical student members introducing future physicians to rural anesthesia. Medical student members can apply for stipend scholarships (with Committee oversight approval, stipends range in amount up to the value of $500) to pay for travel and lodging expenses for a rural clerkship. Applications may be submitted four times each year based on this schedule: 
By January 1 for a March 1 or later start of rotation; By April 1 for a June 1 or later start of rotation; By July 1 for a September 1 or later start of rotation; By October 1 for a December 1 or later start of rotation

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