Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue May 18, 2015

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities

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Hospitals Work!

Research shows that community health services provide more than medical care. Rural health providers have a reciprocal effect on the community’s jobs, commerce, and overall economy.

How do you demonstrate that effect?  Through Rural Health Works!

VRHA is partnering with the National Center for Rural Health Works to provide a FREE webinar series on the economic impact of healthcare in rural communities. The last webinar will be:

  • May 28: Impact of a Small Rural Hospital

Visit the VRHA webinar page for details and registration.

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Telehealth Webinars

VRHA has partnered with WeCounsel to offer you a 3-part webinar series on telehealth.  This series will provide a high level understanding of what it takes to effectively implement a successful telehealth program.

  • May 19th:  will focus on the regulatory environment for Telehealth in the state of Virginia as well as at the federal level.  We will answer questions regarding how telehealth is regulated in Virginia, crossing state lines and the implications of HIPAA on telehealth providers. 
  • Date TBA: will highlight reimbursement policies for the state of Virginia in regards to telehealth. Getting paid is critical to any successful telehealth program.  Join us as we discuss the reimbursement landscape for Medicare/Medicaid and private payers in regards to telehealth, and how telehealth can be a successful revenue stream for your practice. 
  • Date TBA: will outline effective use cases and how to develop an effective business model for a Telehealth initiative. This webinar will cover exactly how to plan, develop and implement a successful telehealth initiative. 

The webinars are free to all Virginia rural health stakeholders, regardless of VRHA membership status - so feel free to pass this information along!

Visit the VRHA webinar page for details and registration.

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Members in the News

By Tim Saunders - WDBJ7

60 years after admitting its first patient, [VRHA member] Bedford Memorial Hospital is showing signs of age. The outdated look is slowly changing, thanks to Centra.  The Lynchburg-based health care organization took full ownership of the hospital last July.

The hospital is in the midst of a major renovation project that will play out in five phases.  Changes include new landscaping around the hospital grounds and a complete overhaul of patient rooms.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Getting Students to Stay

Tommie McNeil - WVTF

Virginia has some of the best medical schools in the country, but state leaders are realizing that many medical students will live and get their education here--and, upon graduation, will look for better opportunities elsewhere. A state panel has been tasked with not only helping to produce more medical school graduates, but also keeping them in the Commonwealth.

Growing demands on the healthcare system and an aging population have created a need for more doctors. During a meeting of the Virginia Health Workforce Authority, Governor McAuliffe made it clear what he wants from the Graduate Medical Advisory Group.

Read the full article.

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Seeds of Change

By Robert Burke - Virginia Business

It’s not that Virginia doesn’t have good family doctors. It’s that the business of being a physician — especially in small- or medium-size primary-care practices — has grown much more difficult. For many of these practices, the pressure to cut costs, turn a profit and still keep up with the demands of a fast-changing health-care industry is hurting the quality of care they can deliver.

That problem is the target that a statewide initiative, the Virginia Primary Care Transformation Cooperative, hopes to fix. The goal is to help struggling practices figure out a better way to do business, a way that will give them more resources to take care of patients and financial stability, says Dr. Anton Kuzel, the project’s leader, who is chairman of the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. “The models we are offering were developed and tested by physicians in private practice just like them and can work for them as well,” he says.

The initiative comes out of the Virginia Center for Health Innovation, which is seeking an $11 million federal grant to fund the project and expects its application to be approved at near the requested amount. The center was launched three years ago with financial support from some of the state’s leading health-care associations, such as the Medical Society of Virginia and the Virginia Association of Health Plans, along with the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Part of its mission is to organize these kinds of cooperative efforts and when possible, to get funding. “We’re about getting the grants for Virginia,” says Beth Bortz, president and CEO  of the Virginia Center for Health Innovation.

Read the full article.

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Close to Home

By Audrey Tayse Haynes - Lexington Herald-Leader

Recently, the state auditor released a report on the financial strength of Kentucky's rural hospitals. While the Auditor's Special Report is limited to 2011-13, the most recent financial numbers from calendar year 2014 are very favorable for health-care providers, including rural hospitals. Since Jan. 1, 2014, more than 500,000 Kentuckians have gained health-care coverage via kynect through either Medicaid expansion or the commercial insurance market.

Thanks to Gov. Steve Beshear's bold leadership, these decisions have benefited the health of half a million Kentuckians, including nearly 30,000 people in Fayette County who now have access to health care. This huge increase in the number of individuals with health insurance also has broad and significant economic implications for your community and your hospitals. For example, during 2014, $1.2 billion was added to the bottom line of Kentucky's economy, $177.2 million of which went directly into Fayette County.

Read the full article and related story from Families USA.

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National News

Top 5 for Swing Beds

By Terry Hill and Mark Lindsay MD - National Rural Health Resource Center

Top Five Reasons Why the Swing Bed Program is Vital to the Long-Term Viability for Critical Access Hospitals and Rural Healthcare:

1. Significant Equity Gaps in Rural vs Urban
2. It is important to focus on Value Equation, not just cutting costs when contemplating reduction of services in rural healthcare
3. CAHs Perform Better than Urban Hospitals and SNFs in Important Areas
4. Swing Beds Help CAHs Provide Long Term Viability for their Communities
5. Mayo Post-Acute Care Program, a new model of care focusing on the value of the CAH in the healthcare continuum

Read the full article.

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Rural Impact

By Doug O'Brien - White House Rural Council

President Obama believes that every child should have an opportunity to succeed. Yet some rural kids are falling behind—or worse, starting behind. A full 85 percent of our country’s persistent poverty counties are in rural America. Lack of opportunity for rural kids and families is often compounded by other challenges, including distance from health and early learning programs, lack of access to public transportation, and higher rates of drug and substance abuse, among others. But for all kids, the road to successful adulthood relies on a strong foundation of access to basic health, nutrition, high-quality early education, strong schools, and support from parents and caregivers.

Rural Impact is a new effort from the White House Rural Council to address the challenge of rural child poverty by bringing together federal agencies and public and private resources. Rural Impact focuses primarily on a multi-generational approach to how public and private resources are invested in rural families and communities. With support from the President, Cabinet officials, universities, foundations, non-profits and community groups, Rural Impact will focus primarily on three major areas: innovation, awareness, investment.

Read the full article.

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Ambulances Fill the Gap

By Anthony Brino - Healthcare Finance

As rural communities and aging populations confront an increase in diabetes and cardiovascular disease, a $180 billion threat looms for seniors, families, taxpayers and healthcare systems — stroke. Forty-eight rural hospitals have closed since 2010, mostly in the American South, what epidemiologists call the Stroke Belt, and more than 280 other rural hospitals are at risk of shutting down, according to the National Rural Health Association. 

Today, residents are living in the wake of such a closure in Boothbay, Maine, a small coastal town on a peninsula. In October 2013, Boothbay’s 25-bed St. Andrew’s Hospital — where stroke patients could receive clot-busting medication that helps prevents long-term disability — was converted into a 10-hour-a-day urgent care center by the parent organization, MaineHealth’s Lincoln County HealthCare, in favor of sending all patients 10 to 20 miles away to Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta. 

Read the full article.

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Rural Broadband Connectivity

By Mohit Kaushal, Kavita Patel, Margaret Darling, Kate Samuels, and Mark McClellan - Health Affairs

Broadband access is not usually highlighted in policy prescriptions for improving outcomes and lowering costs of health care. But it is a prerequisite for a range of technologies that can provide more cost-effective and higher-quality care, such as video consultation, remote patient monitoring, and electronic health record operability. And in many places—particularly rural areas that have the most to gain from telemedicine and connectivity—broadband remains too expensive, unreliable, or simply not available at the speeds required to enable innovations in care. This “connectivity gap” remains an important obstacle to achieving better care in rural areas.

Federal statutes and regulations provide subsidies, administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), that attempt to close the connectivity gap. But these subsidies have been underutilized because they are too hard to use; they have also not kept pace with changes in health care delivery and broadband technology. Below, we examine the connectivity gap and current federal efforts to address it, and we offer proposals to make those efforts more up-to-date and effective.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

May 19: Regulatory Environment for Telehealth - webinar
May 28: Impact of a Small Rural Hospital - webinar
May 27: What Suicide Interventions Outside of Health Care Settings Reduce Risk? - webinar
June 4: Transformation in the Health Care Industry - Richmond
June 24: What Research Infrastructure Do We Need to Reduce Suicidal Behavior - webinar

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Rural Taxonomy of Population and Health-Resource Characteristics
Reports on taxonomy of rural places developed based on population and health-resource characteristics. The taxonomy makes comparisons between rural communities to help inform rural health policy and healthcare innovation.

RAC Grant Writing Support Tools

Power points slides outlining how the Rural Assistance Center can help organizations find funding opportunities and information to support grant writing efforts.

VA Office of Rural Health Quarterly Newsletter
To join the VA's rural health news distribution list, see the “subscribe today” box at the top of the page.

Beneficiaries with Medigap Coverage
Reports on demographics of Medicare beneficiaries with Medigap coverage, including statistics specific to those beneficiaries living in rural areas, highlighting the importance of the Medigap program for rural areas.

Dissemination of Rural Health Research: A Toolkit
Offers health services researchers a variety of approaches and products to help communicate research findings to their target audience. Provides general guidelines, as well as advice related to specific product types, such as fact sheets and policy briefs, and to particular methods of communication, including social media.

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Funding Opportunities

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

Creating a Culture of Health in Appalachia: Disparities and Bright Spots
Application deadline: Jun 8, 2015
Awards funding to research, document, and examine health conditions in the Appalachian region. Researchers should document health disparities; identify communities that have better than expected health outcomes; and identify community-based models and policy implications.

Semi-Annual Grant Program: Access to Care
Application deadline: Jul 31, 2015
Awards funding to projects that improve access to oral healthcare. Examples include screening programs, treatment programs, and dental clinics within a community healthcare facility.

Rural Quality Improvement Technical Assistance Cooperative Agreement
Application deadline: Jun 22, 2015
Awards funding to one organization to provide technical assistance to beneficiaries of FORHP quality initiatives such as grantees, Critical Access Hospitals, and other rural providers, including: data collection and analysis; understanding measure specifications; benchmarking and target-setting; developing and implementing efficient and effective improvement strategies; and tracking the outcomes of quality improvement efforts.

Technologies for Improving Population Health and Eliminating Health Disparities (R41/R42)
Letter of Intent (Optional): Jun 23, 2015
Application deadline: Jul 23, 2015
Offers funding to develop partnerships between innovative small business concerns (SBCs) and nonprofit research institutions resulting in improving minority health and the reduction of health disparities by commercializing innovative technologies. Rural populations are included in the listed health disparities priority populations.

Drucker Institute: Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation
The Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation is presented annually to a nonprofit organization that best demonstrates Drucker's definition of innovation: "change that creates a new dimension of performance."* 

The Wounded Warrior Project
The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001, and their families. WWP offers grants of up to $250,000 to support nonprofit organizations that provide direct programming and services to this generation of wounded veterans. Applying organizations should enhance the lives of injured service members and their families by supporting programs that fall into one or more of WWP's funding priorities: Mind, Body, and Economic Empowerment. The upcoming deadline for letters of interest is May 26, 2015. 

Monroe E. Trout Premier Cares Award
The Monroe E. Trout Premier Cares Award was established to recognize exemplary programs nationwide that have made health services more accessible to a specific medically underserved population. The award honors innovative programs that support people excluded from or underserved by the mainstream health delivery system, including farm workers, homeless children, pregnant teens, low-income mothers and infants, and individuals who don't have the strength or means to reach a clinic or hospital. The winning program must be able to show measurable benefits/outcomes covering a full two-year span and must be capable of being replicated. (Please note: The Premier Cares Award is not a grant for future work, rather it is a recognition award for work already accomplished in the past.) The award winner receives $100,000 and the other five finalists receive $24,000 each. The entry deadline is July 31, 2015.

Farmers’ Market SNAP Support Grants
Letter of Intent (Required): May 18, 2015
Application deadline: Jun 18, 2015
Awards funding to support the establishment, expansion, and promotion of SNAP/Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) services at farmers’ markets.

Rural Child Poverty Telehealth Network Grant Program
Application deadline: Jun 22, 2015
Awards funding to telehealth networks that integrate social and human service organizations. Networks must demonstrate how integration of social and human service organizations can expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of healthcare services for children living in impoverished rural areas.

Telehealth Focused Rural Health Research Center Cooperative Agreement
Application deadline: Jun 29, 2015
Awards funding to operate a telehealth focused research center which will work to assist rural health providers and governmental decision makers by increasing the amount of policy-relevant telehealth related research.

Innovating for the Underserved Challenge
Application deadline: Jul 22, 2015
Gives monetary awards for ideas that show how innovative technology can address access to services, childhood obesity, or connecting data between systems. Proposed innovations must show how technology and data can address challenges faced by underserved and vulnerable populations.

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Virginia Rural Health Association
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Blacksburg, VA 24060

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