Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue December 15, 2014

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities



Check out their new website!




And the Winners Are...

VRHA handed out their annual awards last week:

  • The Charles Crowder, Jr. Award: Mr. S. Henley Carter and Mr. George G. Phillips of Bath County
  • Best Practices in Rural Health Award: Mountain Empire Older Citizens
  • ​Lawmaker of the Year: Senator Emmett W. Hanger, Jr. 
  • Friend of the Association: Dr. Kenneth Studer, Ph. D.  

Special note: Ken’s passing is a tremendous loss for Virginia, for rural health stakeholders and the Virginia Rural Health Association.  Therefore, we are not only honoring his memory with the Friend of the Association award, we are re-naming the award for him.  From now on – this will be known as “The Ken Studer Friend of the Association Award”

Visit the conference website and click the awards tab to view a full description of all awardees.

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Contact the Governor!

Right now Governor McAuliffe is developing his amendments to the 2014-2016 budget. He will introduce his recommendations on December 17 at a joint meeting of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees. He needs to hear from all of us now to make sure that his budget includes the funding that will enable up to 400,000 Virginians (including 86,664
in rural communities)
to get access to the quality, affordable health care they need.

Though Governor McAuliffe's 10-point "A Healthy Virginia" plan takes important steps toward helping some people get access to health care - it's not enough. Virginia still needs to accept the available federal funding to fully close the Medicaid coverage gap. Closing the coverage gap will save lives, bring billions of dollars into the state, create jobs, and allow the state to avoid further cuts to critical services, like education.

Please write the governor today to thank him for his efforts so far and remind him the fight isn't over. We will continue to work with him to close the coverage gap. His budget must include the federal funding to close the gap and also reflect the fiscal benefits of doing so.  Then follow up with your General Assembly members to remind them of the importance of closing the coverage gap.

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Many Members in the News

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced $36.3 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 1,113 health centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and seven U.S. Territories to recognize health center quality improvement achievements and invest in ongoing quality improvement activities. The health centers receiving awards today are proven leaders in areas such as chronic disease management, preventive care and the use of Electronic Health Records(EHRs) to report quality data.

VRHA member recipients are:

  • Blue Ridge Medical Center
  • Central Virginia Health Services
  • Eastern Shore Rural Health Systems
  • Free Clinic of the New River Valley
  • Highland Medical Center
  • Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems
  • Tri-Area Community Health

Read the full press release.

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Virginia News

Do the Math

By the Virginian-Pilot

It is unlikely that a majority of Virginia lawmakers will suddenly have an epiphany in the upcoming legislative session and move to expand Medicaid coverage to more low-income, uninsured Virginians.  Republicans, who enjoy control of both the House of Delegates and the Senate, remain steadfastly opposed to implementing that critical provision of President Barack Obama's chief domestic accomplishment, the federal Affordable Care Act.

Nevertheless, few days pass without an opportunity to reflect on the folly of that resistance, and the harm that such partisan intransigence has on working class people across the commonwealth.

Last week, officials and journalists assembled at the offices of the Richmond Times-Dispatch for a panel discussion on Medicaid in Virginia. Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel noted that expanding the subsidized insurance program, as prescribed by the Affordable Care Act, on July 1 would bring some $230 million in federal revenue into state coffers. Those funds would be a lifeline to the commonwealth and would cover more than two-thirds of a projected budget shortfall in the next fiscal year.

Read the full editorial.

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Where Things Stand

By Kylie McGivern - News Channel 11

In the wake of exciting news that Lee County, Virginia cleared a major hurdle on the road to reopening its only hospital, a big question remains. Now that the Lee County Hospital Authority (LCHA) has obtained a Certificate of Public Need (COPN), where do negotiations stand with Wellmont Health System to acquire the hospital building? 

Monday, News Channel 11's Kylie McGivern spoke with the LCHA's attorney, Jeff Mitchell, to learn about the challenges that continue moving forward. Mitchell said discussions with Wellmont began several months ago, and in the beginning, he doesn't believe Wellmont thought Lee County would be successful in obtaining a COPN - needed to reopen the hospital. 

Now that they have, the hospital authority is ready to move forward, but negotiations aren't progressing as quickly as they would have hoped with Wellmont. 

Read the full article.

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Close to Home

By David A. Mann - Louisville Business First

A growing shortage of physicians continues to be a concern in the health care industry, particularly as coverage is expanded by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In small towns in Kentucky where access to health care is problematic because of the physician shortage, patients are putting off care, according to Dr. William Crump, associate dean of the University of Louisville School of Medicine's Trover Campus. The Trover Campus is based in Madisonville, in Western Kentucky. It provides a means for students to finish their last two years of medical school in a rural setting.
Putting off care can have dire consequences, particularly for patients who have chronic conditions. Crump told me about a couple of instances that involved diabetic patients who put off care. One ended up losing a leg, and the other had a heart attack.

Read the full article.

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National News

Meet Elected Officials 

The midterm election means new faces will be arriving in D.C., and they need to be informed about the realities of rural health care. Plan now to attend NRHA’s Rural Health Policy Institute Feb. 3-5 in D.C. At the largest rural advocacy event in the country, you and your colleagues can learn firsthand about the development and implementation of health care policy at the federal level and meet with your elected representatives. 

VRHA Executive Director Beth O'Connor will be leading Virginia's delegation.  Please contact her if you have any questions about the event.

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Keeping it Local

By Kris Bevill - Prairie Business Magazine 

Consolidation has become a growing trend in the health care industry as providers rework how they care for patients in the face of rising operating costs and new regulations. Large systems are getting larger and independent providers are becoming fewer, which can leave one to wonder whether the days are numbered for remaining independent hospitals, particularly in rural regions like the northern Plains. While the going may be tough, leaders of area independents say they can continue to thrive in the changing health care environment because they serve a vital role for their communities, and stress that the support they receive locally and from other providers means they’re never alone.

Larry Schulz, CEO of Fergus Falls, Minn.-based Lake Regional Healthcare Corp., is a staunch advocate for the continued independence of LRHC and says it can be accomplished through careful planning and local leadership. He attributes recent consolidation in health care to a desire to distribute the increased risk being placed on providers through the Affordable Care Act, but says consolidation isn’t the only way to minimize risk.

Read the full article.

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Rural Nonprofit Problems

By Rick Cohen - Nonprofit Quarterly

November was the annual meeting of the Housing Assistance Council, one of the nation’s premier rural advocacy organizations. This author will be speaking on a panel examining rural philanthropy (natch!) amidst many sessions exploring exactly what is happening—or not happening—in rural America. Rural nonprofits know all too well the challenges they face, but many non-rural nonprofits may not.

No one should imagine that rural conditions are somehow vastly improved. On a number of factors, conditions in rural America are tougher, but we have yet to see philanthropic resources mobilized in the way they should be to make progress in reversing rural homelessness, deficiencies in rural healthcare provision, and the persistence of rural poverty.

Read the full article and related article on rural philanthropy.

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Getting Covered is Good for Rural 

By Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Living in a rural community shouldn’t have to come with a hefty price tag for healthcare. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is already making a difference in the lives of millions of rural Americans. Prior to the ACA, many rural families had a hard time finding affordable insurance coverage, paying an average of nearly half of their costs out of their own pockets. Many didn’t have access to affordable health insurance through an employer because they were self-employed as farmers, ranchers or rural business owners and entrepreneurs. While those folks take calculated business risks every day, their health should not be one of them.

Today, they can choose from a variety of affordable insurance plans and many will qualify for financial assistance to help them pay for coverage. During the last open enrollment period, which ran through March of 2014, nearly seven out of ten people across the country found coverage for less than a $100 a month. The ACA also forbids insurance companies from discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions and covers preventive care. This is especially beneficial for rural Americans who, on average, suffer from higher rates of chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure than those living in urban areas. The ACA also includes a special rule that requires insurance companies to publicly justify premium increases of more than ten percent–which means no more expensive surprises for rural families from year to year.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

February 3-5: Rural Health Policy Institute - Washington, DC
March 29-31: Shaping the Future of Healthcare through Innovation and Technology - White Sulphur Springs
April 8-9: Virginia Forum on Youth Tobacco Use - Richmond

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Community Research Topic Guide
The Rural Assistance Center recently released a topic guide focusing on conducting rural community-based participatory research, community health needs assessments and program evaluations. The guide identifies the similarities and differences among rural health research, assessment and evaluation; discusses common methods, such as surveys and focus groups; provides contacts within the field of rural health research; and more.

Learn About Military Culture
This website was designed by Military Culture experts working as part of a DoD/VA collaborative effort to help healthcare professionals become more culturally aware by providing education, tools and resources for their clinical practice  

Cancer in Virginia: Overview and Selected Statistics
Updated to reflect current incidence, mortality and screening data available.  The report covers the years 2002 – 2011 (for incidence statistics) and 2003 – 2012 (for mortality statistics) for all cancers combined and for cancers of the cervix, colon, female breast, lung, melanoma of the skin, and ovary.  Data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) was included where relevant (screening percentages, smoking status, income, education level, etc.).  The following programs and offices within the Virginia Department of Health collaborated to produce this report: the Division of Policy and Evaluation in the Office of Family Health Services, the Virginia Cancer Registry, the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, and the Office of Health Statistics. 


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Funding Opportunities

United Way - Thomas Jefferson Area Impact Grant
Deadline: 01/23/15
Funding for programs focused on school readiness, self sufficiency and community health.

VHCF's Spring Funding Cycle
The Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) funds public-private initiatives that grow and strengthen Virginia's health safety net. Our goal is to increase access to primary health care, including behavioral health and dental services, to Virginia's uninsured and medically underserved. VHCF has four priority funding areas. Concept papers should address at least one of the following: 

  • Develop or expand patient capacity
  • Broaden the scope of services
  • Create local coordinated systems of care
  • Strengthen the infrastructure of the health safety net 

Key Dates for VHCF's Spring Funding Cycle
January 23, 2015: Concept Papers due to VHCF by 5:00 pm.
February 6, 2015: VHCF invites submission of full proposals based on concept paper submissions.
March 6, 2015: Formal proposals due to the VHCF office by 5:00 pm.
June 30, 2015: Grant awards announced by the Foundation Board.

Surdna Foundation
Deadline: Ongoing
Funding to foster sustainable communities in the United States - communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies and thriving cultures.  

Fluor Foundation
Deadline: Ongoing
Funding to support organizations that provide food, shelter and prevention programs and emergency services.

Predoctoral Training in General, Pediatric, and Public Health Dentistry and Dental Hygiene
Application deadline: Feb 2, 2015
Awards funding for predoctoral training programs that are designed to educate predoctoral dental students, dental hygiene students, and dental hygienists, preparing them to practice in new and emerging models of care that are designed to meet the needs of vulnerable, underserved, and rural populations.

Advanced Nursing Education Grants
Application deadline: Feb 13, 2015
Grants for projects that support the enhancement of advanced nursing education and practice. Awardees will create or enhance partnerships between academic institutions and rural or underserved clinical practice sites to improve student readiness to enter those areas upon graduation.

Testing Multi-Level Interventions to Improve Blood Pressure Control in Minority Racial/Ethnic, Low Socioeconomic Status, and/or Rural Populations (UH2/UH3)
Letter of Intent (Optional): Jan 13, 2015
Application deadline: Feb 13, 2015
Awards funds for research initiatives designed to reduce disparities in hypertension among high risk populations, including racial/ethnic minority groups, patients with low socioeconomic status, and individuals residing in rural areas.

Pipeline to Proposal Awards - Tier One
Letter of Intent (Required): Dec 23, 2014
Application deadline: Feb 16, 2015
Offers seed funding to patients, advocacy groups, clinicians, and others who are not usual candidates for research funding. Funds should be used to build the community and capacity necessary to develop and apply for a patient-centered comparative effectiveness research project.

Healthy Eating Research - Healthy Food Retail and Early Care and Education
Letter of Intent (Required): Jan 7, 2015
Application deadline: Mar 4, 2015
Supports research on environmental and policy strategies designed to promote healthy eating among children to prevent childhood obesity, especially among groups at highest risk for obesity: Black, Latino, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander children, and children who live in lower-income communities.

USDA Community Facilities Loan and Grant Program
Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Funding to construct, enlarge, or improve essential community facilities for healthcare, public safety, education, and public services in rural areas.

Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities: Partners for Places
Partners for Places, an initiative of the Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, is a matching grant program that creates opportunities for cities and counties in the United States and Canada to improve communities by building partnerships between local government sustainability offices and place-based foundations. Through the program, funders invest in local projects to promote a healthy environment, a strong economy, and well-being of all residents. For Round 6, grants will range between $25,000 and $75,000 per year for up to two years, with a one-to-one match required by one or more local, place-based foundations. The proposal must be submitted by a team of at least two partners consisting of the sustainability director of a city or a county, and the local, place-based foundation(s). The application deadline is January 28, 2015.

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Virginia Rural Health Association
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Blacksburg, VA 24060

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