VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  May 22, 2017

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


VOHC Asks: 

The American Health Care Act Passes the House
What Happens Next?




RFP Released

VRHA has released an RFP to solict bids to improve access to broadband services to Virginia's healthcare providers.  Interested telecommunications vendors are encouraged to review the RFP and related materials on the VRHA website.  Letters of intent are due May 26, 2017 by 3pm.

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Deadline Approaching

VRHA is accepting applications from students who wish to serve as a representative on the VRHA Board of Directors.  Up to five students will be selected for a one year appointment.  

Applications must be submitted no later than May 26, 2017
The VRHA Student Representatives to the Board of Directors are expected to serve as a communication link between the current leaders of VRHA and the future ones.  In order to meet this expectation, the students selected will need to interact with both the VRHA Board Members and students in a wide variety of health-related programs. The students selected will help VRHA achieve its strategic goals, with particular emphasis on increasing awareness of VRHA and the benefits of VRHA membership among students.   

Results will be announced on June 9, 2017.

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Members in the News

By Laura Peters - NewsLeader

A large white line outlined the upcoming expansion to [VRHA member] Augusta Health's new and improved emergency department. It starts at the walk-in entrance of the current emergency department, runs over a bush nearby, through the edge of the parking lot and in front of the building. Many in attendance walked the line, to say the least. The outlined helped people envision what is set to come at the hospital. 

The new expansion will double the size of the current emergency department and is part of the hospital's initiative called Moments Matter. It's set to be completed in 2019.

Read the full articlerelated video and related story in the Augusta Free Press.

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Virginia News

Service Cuts

By Katie O'Connor and Sarah Kleiner - Richmond Times-Dispatch

Cuts to Medicaid prescribed by the American Health Care Act could lead to a drastic reduction in services for Virginians with disabilities, policy experts and lawmakers said last week. In Virginia, 1 in every 8 residents rely on the state’s Medicaid program. That includes one-third of Virginia’s children and two-thirds of its nursing facility residents.

The state projects that the financial loss to its Medicaid program under the bill, which has passed the U.S. House of Representatives but still requires Senate approval, is $22 million in the first year, $191 million in the seventh year, and $689 million total over seven years, beginning in 2020.

And according to Virginia’s Medicaid chief, the American Health Care Act would spell bad news for many — if not all — of its members, particularly the elderly and individuals with disabilities.

Read the full article and related article in People's World.

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Army Partnership

By Olivia Bailey - WCBY

With the help of the military, thousands of southwest Virginia residents have the chance to access health care resources at no-cost.

The Army is partnering with the Health Wagon in Wise County to offer the health and wellness event. The special partnership is allowing health officials to offer new services.

It is called Appalachian Care with Dr. Teresa Tyson heading up the mission to make sure southwest Virginians get access to health care resources. She is always finding new ways to expand the care at no cost to patients. The latest effort includes Army readiness training.

Read the full article.

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Opioid Town Hall

By Tiana Bohner - WCYB

Nearly 1,200 people died because of opioid overdoses in Virginia, last year. That number is higher than the number of people killed in car crashes or by firearms, according to Governor Terry McAuliffe. The governor hosted a town hall in Abingdon on Monday to talk about the problem.

In 2014, Governor McAuliffe created a task force to look at the opioid epidemic. Then in 2016, he declared it a 'Public Health Emergency' in the Commonwealth.

"We've got to get on top of this," Governor McAuliffe said. "We got to get folks into treatment. We got to stop doctors from over-prescribing opioids."

In a town hall-style meeting, Governor McAuliffe took as many questions as he could, wanting to hear from the people who are at 'ground zero' of the epidemic.

Read the full article.


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National News

Up to the Senate

By Maggie Elehwany - National Rural Health Association

Despite opposition of NRHA and nearly every other provider and patient advocacy group, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (which repeals and replaces the Affordable Care Act) by a vote of 217 to 213.  Today the House had an opportunity to fix the many issues in the ACA that did not work for the 62 million who live in rural America (lack of plan competition in rural markets, exorbitant premiums, deductibles and co-pays, the co-op collapses, devastating Medicare cuts, and the lack of Medicaid expansion), but instead passed a bill that will likely make health care access worse and more expensive in rural communities. 

It is now up to the Senate to address the needs of rural America, who are older, poorer and sicker per capita.  Please review NRHA's document outlining policy suggestions, join our grassroots efforts and tell your Senators that any health reform bill must include:

1) Reforming Insurance Markets -  Any federal health care reform proposal must address the fact that insurance providers are withdrawing from rural markets;

2) Stabilizing the Rural Health Safety Net -  Rural Americans are disproportionately dependent upon Medicaid.  Any federal reform care bill must ensure that states can continue unique Medicaid payment  programs established to help rural Americans maintain  access to care;

3) Stopping the Rural Hospital Closure Crisis -- Congress needs to act now and stop the devastating rural hospital closure crisis.  Any reform bill must include a provisions to stop Medicare bad debt cuts to rural hospitals, which are disproportionately harm rural hospitals because of the ACA.

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Rural Health Literacy

By Kay Miller Temple - RHI Hub

Health literacy impacts the most everyday of health decisions. Over-the-counter medication use, health screening choices, medical insurance selection, and especially decisions about personal and family disease treatments are all influenced by the availability and clarity of heath information. Health literacy is a big concern since experts and researchers say that improving the nation’s health is largely influenced by understanding health information.

Health literacy efforts in rural areas are unique. Distance and internet connectivity challenges make the struggle not just about processing and understanding basic health information, but about finding health information in the first place. To navigate these gaps, school nurses, newspapers, public libraries, churches, public health departments, and hub-and-spoke academic institutions are working in creative ways to deliver clear, understandable health information to the nation’s rural residents.

Read the full article then click here to review a Rural Health Literacy Twitter chat hosted by RHI.

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Home Health Shortage

By Judith Graham - Kaiser Health News

Acute shortages of home health aides and nursing assistants are cropping up across the country, threatening care for people with serious disabilities and vulnerable older adults.

The emerging crisis is driven by low wages — around $10 an hour, mostly funded by state Medicaid programs — and a shrinking pool of workers willing to perform this physically and emotionally demanding work: helping people get in and out of bed, go to the bathroom, shower, eat, participate in activities, and often dealing with challenging behaviors.

It portends even worse difficulties to come, as America’s senior citizen population swells to 88 million people in 2050, up from 48 million currently, and requires more assistance with chronic health conditions and disabilities, experts warn.

Read the full article.

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Insurers Bolt

By Hannah Recht - Bloomberg

Tens of thousands of customers who get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces could lose their coverage for 2018. Several insurers have already decided not to offer marketplace coverage next year amid financial risk and Republican stop-and-go efforts to replace the law. Their exits mean that customers in certain counties could be left with no plans to choose from. And that number could still grow, as other major insurers are still deciding if they’ll offer plans next year, and how much customers will have to pay if they do.

More than 12 million people have enrolled in individual marketplace plans this year. Customers in states such as Idaho, Maryland and Oregon have long been able to choose between several companies. But many other states have seen options dwindle.

In the 2017 open-enrollment period that ended on January 31, many areas of the country had limited options for marketplace plans, particularly in rural areas and states using HealthCare.gov. One-third of all counties, including all of Alaska, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Alabama and South Carolina had just one insurer.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

May 23: Synthetic Narcotic & Opioid Abuse Prevention Seminar - Big Stone Gap
May 23: Magellan Complete Care of Virginia - webinar
June 8: Virginia Health Care Conference - Richmond
June 21: Responding to Natural Disasters in Rural Communities  - webinar
August 16: A Focus on Suicide Prevention in Rural Communities  - webinar

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Model Program: Granville Health System's Transitional Care Program
In the Transitional Care Program, patients with high-risk diagnoses receive home visits and safety checks along with assistance in scheduling follow-up appointments with their primary care provider. 

Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative (TCPI)
Provides technical assistance, education, and support for healthcare providers in rural communities who are preparing for and participating in value-based payment models.

State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies: A comprehensive Scan of the 50 States 
Center for Connected and Health Policy (CCHP) updated the fifth annual edition of "State Telehealth Laws And Reimbursement Policies" which offers policy makers, health advocated, and other interested health care professionals the most current summary guide of telehealth-related policies, laws, and regulations for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

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Funding Opportunities

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

National Lutheran Communities & Services
The National Lutheran Communities & Services (NLCS) provides seniors with a variety of lifestyle, residential, and healthcare options through retirement communities and services in Maryland and Virginia. NLCS Community Impact Grants support nonprofit organizations, including congregations and community-based programs, which address the critical needs of seniors in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. Funded organizations or programs must address at least one of the following pressing issues facing older adults: chronic disease management; navigating and accessing healthcare and social services; dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and memory loss; social isolation; and poverty and financial insecurity. Proposals may be submitted from June 1 through August 15, 2017. 

Big Lots Foundation
The Big Lots Foundation supports nonprofit organizations that improve the lives of families and children in the communities the company serves throughout the United States. The Foundation’s areas of interest include hunger, housing, healthcare, and education. Priority is given to organizations that help needy families transition from poverty to self-sufficiency.
Application deadline is July 1, 2017.

New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program
Provides tax incentives for investments in business or economic projects in distressed rural or urban counties, including capital investments in healthcare facilities. Investors give to Community Development Entities who then offer low-interest financing to businesses.
Application Deadline: Jun 21, 2017 

Elton John AIDS Foundation
The Elton John AIDS Foundation supports nonprofit organizations working with people who are most affected by HIV in the Americas, defined as the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Grants will be provided to organizations working toward one or more of the following goals: wellness, rights, quality of life, and resilience. The grantmaking priority populations include people living with HIV, Black women and men, gay and bisexual men, transgender people, migrants and immigrants, women and girls, adolescents and young adults, Hispanic people, sex workers, people who use drugs, and people who are or have been incarcerated. Organizations that are led by and based in the communities being served are of special interest.
Online letters of inquiry are due June 30, 2017. 

School-Based Adolescent HIV/STD Prevention Services
Funding and technical assistance for local health departments to increase their capacity to work in partnership with local education agencies and other key community stakeholders to prevent adolescent HIV/STD infections through the implementation of CDC school-based approaches.
Letter of Intent (Optional): May 26, 2017
Application Deadline: Jun 9, 2017 

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