VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue March 2, 2015

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities

NOSORH February Newsletter





VRHA Presents! 

VRHA Executive Director Beth O'Connor, along with VRHA members Wendy Welch and Jody Hersey have been selected to give a presentation at the 2015 Appalachian Studies Conference.

The presentation "What Would You Do? Wit and Wisdom on Avoiding Media Stereotyping while Cultivating Coverage", will provide participants with skills that keep their region/ program/institution/values from getting misrepresented —and pick up pointers on how to respond when they do. Best practice suggestions will combine with from-the-floor stories to present proven ways to develop and maintain a relationship with appropriate media correspondents; to handle sudden unexpected phone calls from media personnel; and to build gentle, yet memorable, coping strategies for coverage gone bad—be it personal or perspective on your larger region.

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VRHA Presents Again!

VRHA Executive Director Beth O'Connor, along with VRHA member Pat Foutz will be leading a session at the 2015 MATRC Telehealth Summit.  The session, "Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs): Money and Quality" will provide expert information regarding rural health facilities usage of telemedicine technologies in America, discussion on telemedicine reimbursement to rural healthcare facilities that utilize telemedicine and testimony from a small rural hospital regarding how they have employed telemedicine to enhance health outcomes and increase profits.

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Virginia News

Care for Vets

From the Office of the Governor

Governor Terry McAuliffe, Secretary John Harvey, and Secretary Bill Hazel met with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald to discuss ways that Virginia can partner with the VA to accelerate access to health care for Virginia veterans.  

The meeting was a follow-up to the Virginia Summit on Veterans Health Care Access held in November, which brought together top leaders from the Veterans Health Administration with state officials and private health care providers to explore how Virginia could improve availability of services for veterans.  As a result of the summit, Virginia became the first state in the nation to develop provider agreements between Federally Qualified Health Centers and the VA through the Veterans Choice Program.  To date, four Federally Qualified Health Centers, with 22 sites of care, have signed up to provide health services to eligible veterans. 

Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs John Harvey said, “Virginia is pulling out all the stops to support our veterans.  It is our duty to develop innovative and efficient programs that have positive impacts, as we continue to lead nationwide in serving our fast growing veteran population.” 

Read the full press release.

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Black Lung Docs Needed

From the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

HRSA's Black Lung/Coal Miner Clinics Program (BLCP) in collaboration with The Division of Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation, better known as the Federal Black Lung Program (FBLP) in the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), is in need of additional physicians to perform disability evaluations. The FBLP processes claims for benefits by miners to determine if they are totally disabled by pneumoconiosis, and must provide miners with a complete pulmonary evaluation performed by a highly-qualified physician, particularly physicians who are certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, or other appropriate specialties.

Please contact Tracey Teague, DCMWC Training and Outreach Coordinator, 202-343-5905) if you or a provider you know are interested in performing disability testing for miners, or if you have any questions about our program. DCMWC will work with providers to make sure any special needs--such as secondary billing for lab testing, tests performed at another location, etc.—are accommodated.  DCMWC will also work with providers to make sure that miners will be afforded a complete pulmonary examination that complies with the law and regulations.

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RAM Film Screening

A special screening of the Remote Area Medical film to be held at The Dickinson Fine and Performing Arts Center at Piedmont Virginia Community College Main Stage in Charlottesville, VA on Sunday, March 22 at 3 p.m.

Q & A with Stan Brock, Founder and President of RAM to follow!  Watch the trailer.

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National News

Plea to Save Rural

By Kimberly Leonard - US News & World Report

Belhaven, North Carolina, Mayor Adam O’Neal has already walked 273 miles to Washington, D.C., to protest the closure of his town’s only hospital. Now, he wants to do it again, and is asking members of the National Rural Health Association to join him.

He and Belhaven residents, along with the state NAACP chapter, are protesting last year’s closure of Vidant Pungo Hospital in Hyde County, North Carolina. But O’Neal doesn’t want to stop there: He wants Congress to start paying attention to the health of all rural Americans, and to help them get access to care.

This story is becoming familiar for rural hospitals across the country. According to the American Hospital Association, more than a third of the nation’s 5,700 hospitals are in rural areas. The National Rural Health Association says the nation is in a "rural health crisis," estimating that 470 rural hospitals have closed during the past 25 years. Forty-seven of them closed during the last five years, and 283 more are in danger of closing soon, according to the association.

Read the full article.

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Rural Community Hospital Demonstration

By the American Hospital Association

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) introduced the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Extension Act (H.R. 672), AHA-supported legislation that would extend the demonstration for five years. The program enables rural hospitals with fewer than 51 acute-care beds to test the feasibility of cost-based reimbursement. Currently, 23 small rural hospitals participate.

“By extending the demonstration for five more years, your legislation will ensure that RCH continues to help America’s communities in many ways, especially by allowing hospitals to expand and improve the services rural communities need,” wrote AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack in a letter of support. The program was created by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and extended by the Affordable Care Act.

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RHCs on Essential Community Provider List

By Erin Mann - National Rural Health Association

The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy announced that for the 2016 Marketplace insurance plan year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have released a draft of Essential Community Providers (ECPs) and many Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) are included on the list for the first time. From the announcement:

ECPs are providers who care for predominantly low-income, medically underserved individuals.  Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers (called Qualified Health Plan issuers) must include a minimum number of ECPs within their provider networks for plans sold on the insurance Marketplaces.  Insurers can use the list to select ECPs to include in their provider networks.  The draft list of ECPs and a description of the list are available here.  Scroll down to the section titled “Other QHP Application Resources.”

Read the full article.

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Rural & Fee-for-Service


The Obama administration's push to transform the way the U.S. pays for health care is splitting the medical profession, as family doctors embrace changes that oncologists, neurologists and other specialists are concerned will cause turmoil.

The government set a timetable to extinguish Medicare's "fee-for-service" system, which rewards the quantity of care over quality. That's adding to pressure on physicians who have been debating whether to join their local hospital, merge their practices into ever-bigger groups or get out of medicine.

Specialists warn that patients in some areas of the country may have difficulty finding their services as small, rural practices close and the doctors join larger companies. Just 35 percent of physicians described their practices as independent in a 2014 survey, down from 62 percent in 2008, according to the Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group for the profession.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

March 4: Executive Compensation Trends in Rural Healthcare - webinar
March 11: Infection Prevention - Are You Doing Enough? - webinar
March 26: Impact of a Rural Health Network - webinar
March 29-31: Shaping the Future of Healthcare through Innovation and Technology - White Sulphur Springs
April 2: What Interventions Prevent Suicidal Behavior? - webinar
April 8-9: Virginia Forum on Youth Tobacco Use - Richmond
April 30: Impact of a Community Health Center (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinic- webinar
May 27: What Suicide Interventions Outside of Health Care Settings Reduce Risk? - webinar

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CMS MLN Connects™ Weekly Provider eNews 

What is Rural
Visit this newly updated topic guide to learn about some of the most commonly used federal definitions of rural, including why we need them and how they are used

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Funding Opportunities

Rural Network Allied Health Training Program 
The Allied Health Training Program supports the President’s Rural Health Care Initiative by focusing on rural recruitment and retention activities, building upon the accomplishments of the Rural Health Workforce Development pilot program, which ended in 2013.
Deadline: March 31, 2015

Rural Health Care Coordination Network Partnership Program
Funding opportunity announcement focuses on assisting formal rural health networks, comprising at least three organizations, to improve their outcomes in at least one of three chronic disease states through care coordination strategies (Chronic heart failure (CHF), Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and Type 2  diabetes).
Deadline: April 6, 2015

Optimizing Value in Health Care
March 3, 2015 (3:00 p.m ET)
Deadline for receipt of brief proposals.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation seeks to better understand consumer perceptions of value in the new and emerging health care landscape and to fund research studies that will allow for rapid learning from the field on consumer valuation of health care. Funded studies will cover a diverse set of topics and will help inform the development of tools, resources and policies to support consumers in making high-value decisions that benefit them and other stakeholders. 

Rural Outreach Benefits Counseling Program
Application deadline: Mar 30, 2015
Award ceiling: $75,000 annually
The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy will award funding to pilot a new program, the Benefits Counseling Program, which will work to expand outreach, education, and enrollment efforts in rural communities. Programs will seek to assist eligible uninsured individuals and families, and newly insured individuals and families in rural communities with the navigation of public health insurance options and benefits offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace and/or private health insurance plans. 

The Home Depot Foundation: Community Impact Grants Program
The Home Depot Foundation Community Impact Grants Program provides support to nonprofit organizations and public service agencies in the U.S. that are using the power of volunteers to improve the physical health of their communities. Proposals for the following community improvement activities will be considered: repairs, refurbishments, and modifications to low-income and/or transitional veteran’s housing or community facilities (schools, community centers, senior centers, etc.); weatherizing or increasing energy efficiency of low-income and/or transitional veteran’s housing or community facilities; engaging veterans as volunteers to help other veterans in their community through service projects focusing on the renovation, repair, and improvement of homes and other properties serving veterans; and planting trees or community gardens and/or landscaping community facilities that serve veterans. Priority will be given to projects for veterans that include housing repairs, modifications, and weatherization work. Grants of up to $5,000 are made in the form of The Home Depot gift cards for the purchase of tools, materials, or services. Requests will be accepted up to September 1, 2015.

Monsanto Fund: America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education
America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, an initiative of the Monsanto Fund, helps farmers positively impact their communities and support local school districts. The program gives farmers in selected counties in 40 states the opportunity to nominate a rural public school district to compete for grants to promote science and math education. Once nominated by a local farmer, school district administrators are eligible to submit an application for either a grant of up to $10,000 or a grant of up to $25,000 to support a science and/or math educational program. The more farmers that nominate a school district, the more it demonstrates community support and strengthens the school district’s application. Farmers must submit nominations by April 1, 2015, and the deadline for schools to apply is April 15, 2015.

Awards for Eliminating Health Disparities
Application Deadline: April 14, 2015 (5 p.m. ET)
RWJF is requesting proposals from national nonprofit membership organizations and/or associations to establish an annual awards program to recognize and celebrate individuals who have successfully implemented systems changes related to the determinants of health.
Recognition of these efforts increases the visibility and awareness of the urgent need for systems changes to eliminate health disparities in our society.

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Virginia Rural Health Association
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