VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  September 22, 2014

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


VRHA has teamed up with CMS to offer:

Road to 10:
A Small Physician Practice’s Route to ICD-10

Click the logo for details!






Policy Panel

logo - websize

While VRHA may be the only advocacy organization in Virginia which addresses rural AND health, there are many others which consider rural OR health. What can we do together bring a unified policy platform to bring to the General Assembly that includes the rural health voice?  

Panel members:

  • Virginia Oral Health Coalition
  • Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association
  • Va Rural Center
  • Virginia Community Healthcare Association
  • Virginia Association of Cities & Counties (invited)
  • Virginia Chamber (invited)
  • Virginia Business Coalition on Health (invited)

Come listen in on this great session as part of the 2014 Virginia Rural Health Association Annual Conference!  Click the logo above for details.

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Looking for a Few Good Members!

With the end of the calendar year, VRHA will have five positions open up on the Board of Directors.  Please consider this unique opportunity to serve rural Virginia through leadership on the premier rural advocacy organization.

If you are interested in serving on the VRHA Board of Directors? You can read the board member guidelines, fill out the board application or contact Beth O'Connor

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Members in the News

By Nadine Maeser - WDBJ7

Nearly half of the residents in Rockbridge County are either low-income or medically underinsured and it's a statistic that has a lot of people working to improve healthcare accessibility and services in the region.

The Rockbridge Area Free Clinic recently transitioned into the Rockbridge Area Health Center. WDBJ 7 got a look at the building that received $300,000 worth of renovations at the grand reopening and ribbon cutting event on Tuesday night. We also learned that the center is adding jobs, providing better access to healthcare and building a healthier community with the new center.

The Rockbridge Area Free Clinic only served those without medical insurance, but the new health center will serve those with and without health insurance. The staff has doubled in size since the transition took place.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Expansion Rejected

By Laura Vozzella and Rachel Weiner - Washington Post

State legislators united across party lines Thursday to plug a $2.4 billion hole in the state budget but quickly reverted to bitter partisanship as they debated Medicaid expansion, with House Republicans ultimately killing a bill to expand the health-care program without giving it a formal vote.

The GOP leadership called for the session and allowed a new bill calling for expansion to make it to the House floor. But after extended debate, Republicans used a procedural move to prevent the measure from advancing to a final vote. It died on a 64-to-33 vote against “engrossing” the bill and did not advance to the Senate.

Democrats and Republicans not only debated the benefits and risks of expanding the program but sparred over whether the special session itself was a “full and fair hearing” of the issue or a highly expensive “fake debate.”

Read the full article.

Hospitals Key to State’s Economy

By the American Hospital Association

Virginia’s hospitals and health systems contributed $34.8 billion to the economy in 2012 and directly and indirectly supported 913,636 jobs, according to a report released this week by the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association. The report shows how hospitals are contributing to the state’s economy, benefiting their communities, and improving the quality and value of care. It also highlights the significant financial challenges and uncertainty they face.

“The unprecedented levels of uncertainty brought about by health care reform and the long-term shortages facing the health care workforce necessitate bipartisan efforts to address the challenges facing Virginia hospitals,” said VHHA President and CEO Sean Connaughton. VHHA Chairman John Fitzgerald, CEO of Inova Fair Oaks Hospital in Fairfax, VA, said, “We look forward to engaging all Virginians in a healthy dialogue on this report and how to keep the health care economic engine running while making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation.” 

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Merger Concerns

By Matthew Lane - Times News

The city of Kingsport is "strongly encouraging" Wellmont Health Systems and Mountain States Health Alliance to carefully consider the impact of their decisions regarding a possible merger, especially the economic impact resulting from the loss of local control.

Earlier this year, Wellmont began a strategic initiative aimed at better securing its future, with options including aligning with another health system. Two months ago, the Wellmont board of directors indicated it had narrowed a list of potential partners from six to three, with one being a regional system and two from outside the area.

Read the full story.

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Cancelled Plans

By Markus Schmidt and Michael Martz - Richmond Times-Dispatch

After a year’s reprieve, up to 250,000 Virginians will receive notice by the end of November that their health insurance plans will be canceled because the plans do not comply with the Affordable Care Act and accompanying state law.

The affected policyholders were allowed to renew their old plans late last year, even though the plans did not provide all of the benefits required under the health care law, but they won’t have that option when the policies expire this year.

Doug Gray, executive director of the Virginia Association of Health Plans, said the notices will give policyholders the option to buy health plans with similar coverage that comply with federal and state insurance law.

Read the full article.

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National News

The Rural Health Care Business

By Beth Maiman - USA Today

While many college graduates spent their summer looking for entry-level work, two recent graduates of the University of Oregon — Oliver Alexander, 22, and Orion Falvey, 24 — were getting ready to open their own business. The duo are co-founders of Orchid Health, which opened its first clinic in the rural town of Oakridge, Ore. this August.

The pair came up with the concept in the summer of 2012 when the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business sent out an e-mail to students encouraging them to compete in the Social Business Challenge, where participants were asked to come up with a business that could solve social problems profitably.
The pair looked into various concepts and eventually settled on the idea that creating a management company that provided affordable health care in rural areas had the potential to be successful.

Read the full article.

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Is This the Future?

By J. K. WALL - IBJ.com

Those of us in Indianapolis enjoy—and pay for—the abundance of hospitals and doctors in the metro area. But one of the most dynamic areas for health care in the near future will be the rural parts of Indiana that have shortages of doctors and small hospitals.

In two to three years, primary care clinics could be popping up in Walmart stores in rural Indiana while most rural Indiana hospitals will offer little to no inpatient services.

Read the full article.

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Why So Few Docs?

By Olga Khazan -the Atlantic

When it comes to getting newly minted doctors into far-flung communities, the economics of healthcare work less like the free market and more like a complicated medieval bazaar.

The breakdown starts with medical education: There are too few applicants from rural areas applying to medical school, and about half of the ones who do come from the countryside don't wish to return there after they graduate.

Medical students with country roots are more likely to return to the farm to open up their practices, but some studies suggest rural students are less likely to go to college in the first place. Residents practice near where they train, but many of the nation's most prestigious medical schools are in big cities—and they are less likely to enroll rural students.

After eight grueling years of school and with hundreds of thousands in student loan debt, many doctors are reluctant to give up a city's creature comforts for a more hardscrabble existence.

Read the full article.

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Rural = Quality

By Kansas First News

You don’t always have to go to a big city hospital to get quality care. That’s the message rural hospitals are telling the communities they serve. Dr. Clint Colberg finds working at a rural hospital more rewarding than in a ‘big city’ one.

“The biggest benefit of a rural hospital is just the ability to know each and every one of your patients,” Dr. Colberg says.

Despite smaller budgets and smaller staffs, rural facilities say they can provide care equal to larger, metropolitan facilities that local residents may not even know about.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

September 25: Discussing Immunization with Communities of Color - teleconference
September 30-October 1: Rural Health Clinic Conference - Kansas City, MO
October 1-3: Critical Access Hospital Conference - Kansas City, MO
October 10: A Small Physician Practice’s Route to ICD-10 - Blacksburg
October 17 - 18: Dental Care Approaches for Adults with Disabilities - Chesapeake
November 14: Virginia Oral Health Summit - Richmond
December 11 & 12: Virginia Rural Health Association Annual Conference - Staunton

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Profile of Virginia's Uninsured 
Each year, VHCF contracts with the Urban Institute to produce a Profile of Virginia's Uninsured. The Profile provides a deep analysis of the most recent Census data about the uninsured, including regional rates of uninsurance, demographics, work status and much more. These data may come in handy for you as you apply for grants or try to get the attention of your local media to promote your organization and its programs.

Community Health Advisor
Provides customizable information about the potential health and cost impact of implementing evidence-based interventions. The Community Health Advisor starts with policies and programs recommended in The Community Guide, and generates national, state, and county-level estimates of the health and cost impact of implementing community interventions. 

New Resource: Million Hearts® Local Engagement Guide
The Million Hearts® Local Engagement Guide was developed for local health departments that work with a wide range of community partners to create conditions and policies that help people make healthy choices, such as avoiding tobacco use, becoming more physically active, and eating healthier foods. All these proactive measures contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. This guide will assist local health departments when engaging government partners, health care providers, the public, and other stakeholder groups at the regional, state and local level to advance Million Hearts.

New Cholesterol Resources
The American Heart Association developed new resources designed to equip healthcare providers and patients with the tools necessary to engage in meaningful dialogue around the importance of cholesterol management.  

CPAP Assistance Program
Do you know that sleep apnea can cause depression? Do you have patients who suffer from sleep apnea and cannot afford the equipment that will help them? The American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) has a CPAP Assistance Program that will help. The ASAA refurbishes gently used CPAP machines, and makes them available to eligible patients. To participate in this program, the ASAA asks for a donation of $100. 

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Funding Opportunities

HCA Foundation Grants
Deadline: Ongoing
Funding to organizations that are engaged in community outreach and educational programs that uniquely serve children and adults in the community.

RWJF Health Policy Fellows
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows program provides the nation’s most comprehensive fellowship experience at the nexus of health, science and policy in Washington, D.C. It is an outstanding opportunity for exceptional midcareer health professionals and behavioral and social scientists with an interest in health and health care policy promoting the health of the nation. Fellows participate in the policy process at the federal level and use that leadership experience to improve health, health care and health policy.

CACF Community Endowment
Deadline: 10/01/14
Funding to organizations that support better healthcare, human services, community enrichment, education, arts and culture, or the environment. 
Fund for Shared Insight
Deadline: Ongoing
Funding to nonprofits that want to build systems that engage and use the intelligence of the communities being served to build the effectiveness of their organizations.

Connect 4 Mental Health
Connect 4 Mental Health (C4MH) is a nationwide initiative that calls for communities to prioritize serious mental illness. C4MH's Community Innovation Awards program is designed to recognize local organizations across the country that are working to implement innovative, collaborative approaches to address serious mental illness in their communities.

Department of Health and Human Services
The Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program assists in providing access to healthcare for children, youth, and their families nationwide, and employs preventive health strategies through innovative, community-driven programs. The agency is looking to fund programs that represent either a new initiative within the community or an innovative new component that builds upon an existing community-based program or initiative. The application deadline is October 14, 2014. 

National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Students to Service Loan Repayment Program (Students to Service) application cycle is now open! 
Eligibility is open to medical students (allopathic or osteopathic) in their last year of school  who are planning to pursue a career in primary care, and are committed to working in underserved communities with limited access to care.  NHSC Students to Service award recipients receive up to $120,000 tax free for three years of full-time service or six years of part-time service. Upon completion of residency, Students to Service award recipients serve as primary care providers in an NHSC-approved site in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) of greatest need.

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Virginia Rural Health Association
2265 Kraft Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24060

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