Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  August 22, 2016

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


Don't forget - 
attending the VRHA Conference in Abingdon
also provides the opportunity to visit the
historic Barter Theatre!






VRHA ​has funds available to assist students who wish to attend the VRHA 2016 Annual Conference.  Any full-time student studying a health-related profession may apply. Funds will cover conference registration fees.

Completed forms must be e-mailed to on or before September 9th.  Winners will be announced on September 16th.

Click here to download the application form.  Click the conference logo to the right for event details.
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VRHA Annual Conference
October 19 & 20
Abingdon, VA 

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Deadline Approaching!

Nomination Deadline: September 2, 2016

All Virginia Rural Health Association members and member organizations are invited to submit nominations for the 2016 Virginia Rural Health Association Awards.  Nominees are not required to be members of the association.  Commitment and service to the advancement of rural health in Virginia may be in the form of direct provision of health care services, governmental or educational advocacy, activities or research that improves the health of communities or populations.

Click here to download the nomination form.

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Virginia News

Savings & Jobs

By Massey Whorley - Commonwealth Institute

In the budget year that closed at the end of June, the state collected $266 million less than expected. As a result, the much needed pay raises for teachers and state employees slated to take effect later this year are on hold. And now, after reviewing what the state expects to collect this budget year and next, Governor McAuliffe and legislative leaders are raising concerns about future revenues.  

But if lawmakers had agreed to close the coverage gap in conjunction with a provider assessment starting in January 2017, the state could have saved as much as $352 million between this budget year and next. That’s because Virginia pays for a wide range of services for uninsured people with state dollars. For example, the state helps to offset care for the poor at the health systems run by UVA and VCU. Closing the coverage gap would mean that many people without insurance would gain coverage, greatly reducing the hospital systems’ uncompensated care and the need for state help. The state could also save millions of dollars by using federal funds in lieu of state dollars to pay for inmates’ hospital care, cancer screenings, and temporary detention orders.

That kind of savings could take some of the sting out of the anticipated anemic state revenue growth and cuts to vital services. And closing the coverage gap could also provide an economic boost precisely when lawmakers are concerned about the lack of good-paying jobs. Injecting roughly $2 billion into the health care sector could support an average of 15,700 jobs with a salary of $60,000 plus benefits. Those additional health care jobs could then translate into over $68 million in state revenues each year. 

Read the full article.

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Opioid Roundtable

By Hillary Cheason - DelMarVaNow

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam has been traveling around Virginia to raise awareness and participate in a ongoing disucssion in the healthcare community about the opioid crisis that has affected many areas of the state.  

Northam and other policy leaders particiated in an opioid and prescription drug abuse roundtable on August 10th at Onley Community Health Center.

[VRHA member] Nancy Stern urged the panel to capitalize on the success that the community has had thus far in handling the growing epidemic.

Read the full article.

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Close to Home

From the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

The National Academy of Sciences, funded by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, will be conducting an independent study on the potential correlation between increased health risks and living near surface coal mine sites in Central Appalachia using existing academic research.

This study is being conducted at the request of the State of West Virginia; it will not address any occupational health concerns for workers in coal mines.

Read the full press release.

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National News

Rx Drug Deaths

By Tim Marema - Daily Yonder

Rural counties have seen a disproportionate jump in deaths from prescription-drug overdoses in the past 15 years, increasing at a pace three times that of the nation’s most urban counties. Rural – or “noncore” – counties saw an average increase in prescription drug deaths rates of about 9 percent per year from 1999 to 2014. Central counties of large metropolitan areas (1 million residents or more), on the other hand, saw the death rate climb by less than 3 percent per year on average over the same period.

Rural counties started with lower prescription-drug death rates than cities, so smaller increases in raw numbers of deaths in rural places can mean a sharper growth in the death rate. But by the end of the study period, rural counties’ prescription-drug death rates equaled or exceeded the rates in metropolitan areas.

Read the full article.

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New Brand of Doctor

Holly Fletcher - Tennessean

A lunchtime on a recent Wednesday, the largest - perhaps the dirtiest - truck in the Longhorn Steakhouse parking lot was a Ford Super Duty driven by a doctor who is leading effort to improve the health of patients in rural communities around the state.

Brent Staton, a primary care physician in Cookeville, heads an organization called Cumberland Center for Healthcare Innovation, a network of affiliated, independent doctors in small towns and rural counties around the state.

CCHI is an accountable care organization, health care speak for an emerging model designed to let physicians efficiently manage care and engage wit patents to get healthier outcomes.  

Read the full article.

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Growing Behavioral Health Students

Rural towns need psychologists, social workers and substance abuse counselors, but there is a chronic shortage. The U.S. needs about 2,700 more clinicians to catch up to demand, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Outside of metropolitan areas there just aren't enough providers to go around.

"We can bring providers in who will be here for a while, but once they, maybe, get their scholarships repaid then they leave," says Anitra Warrior, a psychologist from Lincoln, Nebraska. Warrior is helping organize a program to change that track record in Winnebago. Instead of coaxing urban graduates with loan payments, Warrior wants to start with students who are already nearby.

Read the full article.

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LRHA Flood Relief

From the National Rural Health Association

Flooding in Louisiana has resulted in what the American Red Cross is calling the area’s worst natural disaster since Superstorm Sandy in 2012. At least three rural health clinics (RHCs) have been inundated with water. According to Louisiana Rural Health Association (LRHA) executive director Stacy Fontenot, staff from at least one RHC are still trying to see patients despite having lost all computers and basic supplies; however, they need a temporary modular building to place in their parking lot. LRHA has started an online fundraiser to help.

NRHA encourages members to support and share this opportunity to help rural providers and patients.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

August 25: New HCV Testing Policies: Reality for Rural Clinics​ - webinar
September 10: Forum on Prescription Drug Abuse for Healthcare Providers - Lynchburg
September 11: Forum on Prescription Drug Abuse for Healthcare Providers - Midlothian
September 20-21: Rural Health Clinic Conference - Kansas City, MO
September 21-23: Critical Access Hospital Conference - Kansas City, MO
September 23: Rural Health Funding Summit - South Boston
September 24: Forum on Prescription Drug Abuse for Healthcare Providers - Abingdon
September 25: Forum on Prescription Drug Abuse for Healthcare Providers - Blacksburg
October 18: Rural Health Telecommunication Consortium Kick-Off Meeting - Abingdon
October 18-19:  Rural Health Coding & Billing Specialist Training  - Abingdon
October 19-20: VRHA Annual Conference - Abingdon

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Model Program: Hawai'i Island Family Medicine Residency
The Hawai'i Island Family Medicine Residency (HIFMR) program uses an interprofessional team-based approach so residents learn how to care for many types of patients in many different healthcare settings. In 2015, there were over 750 applicants to the residency program, which is now at full capacity with 12 residents. The first class of residents will graduate in June 2017.

Final Rule for Skilled Nursing Facilities – Effective on October 1
On August 5, CMS published its final rule updating payment and policy for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) for fiscal year 2017. Total payment for SNFs will increase by 2.4%, or $920 million, compared to FY 2016, with rural SNFs experiencing slightly larger payment increases than urban SNFs: 2.6% vs. 2.4%. In addition to annual payment revisions, the rule contains changes to the quality measures and administrative procedures under the SNF value-based purchasing (VBP) program, which begins FY 2019, and SNF quality reporting program (QRP), including four new measures required by the IMPACT Act. Of note, CMS has clarified that both the SNF VBP and SNF QRP apply to swing beds at rural PPS hospitals, but not swing beds at critical access hospitals.

Final Rule for Medicare Hospice Benefit – Effective on October 1. 
On August 5, CMS published its final rule updating hospice payment and policy for fiscal year (FY) 2017. Total payments to hospices will increase by 2.1%, or $350 million, compared to FY 2016, with similar payment increases for both rural and urban hospices: 2.0% vs. 2.1%, respectively. The rule also updates the hospice quality reporting program (HQRP) to add two new measures to begin FY 2019, including one measure set assessing hospice visits in the last week of life and one composite measure of comprehensive patient care at admission. Of note, CMS announced plans to consider a new hospice patient assessment instrument to expand upon and replace the current hospice item set chart abstraction tool. These regulations are effective October 1, 2016. For more information, please see the CMS fact sheet.

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Funding Opportunities

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

East Coast Migrant Stream Forum Scholarships
In an effort to support professional development, NCCHCA offers Educational Training Stipends to those needing financial assistance to attend the East Coast Migrant Stream Forum; October 13-15, 2016 - Miami Beach, Florida. Training stipends are prioritized and awarded to those who do farmworker or community health outreach in an East Coast state. 
Deadline: August 26

Pioneering Ideas and a Culture of Health
The goal of the Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal funding opportunity is to explore; to look into the future and put health first as we design for changes in how we live, learn, work and play; to wade into uncharted territory in order to better understand what new trends, opportunities and breakthrough ideas can enable everyone in America to live the healthiest life possible. While improving the status quo is vital to the health and well-being of millions of Americans now, the Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposal opportunity reaches beyond incremental changes to explore the ideas and trends that will influence the trajectory and future of health. Ultimately, we support work that will help us learn what a Culture of Health can look like—and how we can get there.

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Virginia Rural Health Association
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Blacksburg, VA 24060

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