Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue April 27, 2015

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities



Spring 2015 Newsletter




Rural Health Works!

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.  Webinar schedule is:

  • April 30: Impact of a Community Health Center (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinic
  • May 28: Impact of a Small Rural Hospital

Visit the VRHA webinar page for details and registration.

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New Webinar Series

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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VRHA Members: Building Unity

Congratulations to VRHA student members Anthony Baglio and Caitlyn Buller for winning the top two slots in the VCOM Focus Photo Initiative – Segment 3 “Building Unity”!

Photos from all three segments can be viewed here.

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Virginia News

Health Wagon to Expand

By Rachel Downs - WKPT

The Health Wagon is a free, nonprofit health clinic in the Appalachian region. It focuses on primary and preventative care. “There are so many individuals without access to healthcare, so what we do on a daily basis is just critically important to these patients. We save lives here at our clinic every day. We’re also blessed with a lot of wonderful partners who come around and help us,” says Teresa Gardner, Executive Director with the Health Wagon.

The pharmacy started exploring expansion options back in November, because they need more medications to provide to those patients. They’re working to get a larger list of unlimited medications from the Dispensary of Hope, based out of Nashville.

Read the full article and watch the video.

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New Veterans Care Centers

From the Office of the Governor

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced a bipartisan compromise that will allow Virginia to proceed with the design and construction of two new centers in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads that will offer quality health care to veterans. 

Provisions in the bills, as currently drafted, would release the state funding only after the award of federal grant funding by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  Because the amount of grant funding requested by states for projects nationwide exceeds current federal funding levels, unless the Commonwealth changes our approach it is highly unlikely Virginia will receive federal funding in the foreseeable future.   

The Hampton Roads project has been on the VA grant funding list for 10 years, and the Northern Virginia project for six.  Governor McAuliffe’s amendments free up Virginia’s portion of the funding to proceed on the construction of these two facilities. 

Read the full article.

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Teen Contraception

By the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Teenagers in Virginia receiving birth control through publicly funded programs get the most effective contraceptives only about 7 percent of the time, according to a federal report that looks at teen use of birth control implants and intrauterine devices, also called IUDs.  Teenage birth rates continue to decline in the United States and Virginia, and access to contraception is cited by some as a contributing factor.

Along with Colorado, the other states with the highest teen use of long-acting reversible contraceptives were Alaska, Iowa, Hawaii and Vermont and the District of Columbia. Lowest use was reported in Indiana, West Virginia, New Jersey and South Dakota.

Read the full article.

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National News

Stop Sequestration

By Diane Calmus - National Rural Health Association

Right now, both the House and Senate are working on bills dealing with trade adjustment assistance (TAA). Essentially, these proposals pay for job training and other assistance for those who are displaced by trade.

While, the National Rural Health Association generally does not focus on trade issues, the House bill H.R. 1892 has snared health care into this bill as a pay-for. The bill, which is backed by House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, extends Medicare sequestration for one year and also cuts payments for dialysis treatments to pay for its trade adjustment assistance measures.

According to CBO, the bill would be a $700 million dollar cut to Medicare, by imposing a 0.25 percent cut in Medicare in fiscal year 2024. Currently, the Senate version does not include these or any pay-fors. The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to take up its own version of the legislation Wednesday.

Contact your members of Congress today and tell them not to pay for a trade bill by endangering access to care for seniors and the disabled. Rural providers and hospitals cannot continue to absorb the cuts without hurting rural America’s access to necessary health care.

Not sure who your member of Congress is?  Look it up here.

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Minimum Distance

By the American Hospital Association

Requiring critical access hospitals that are less than 15 miles from another hospital to revert to the hospital prospective payment system would generate modest savings for Medicare but likely be disruptive to the communities that depend on these hospitals for their health care, according to a study in the April issue of Health Affairs. 

Several changes to CAH eligibility have been proposed, most focused on mandating that hospitals be located a certain minimum distance from the nearest hospital. Initially, CAHs were required to be more than 35 miles from the nearest hospital, or more than 15 miles in areas with mountainous terrain or only secondary roads. From 1997 through December 2005, states could waive the distance requirements for hospitals designated by the governor as “necessary providers” of health care services. Since 2006, new CAHs must meet the distance requirements, but existing necessary provider CAHs have been allowed to remain in the program.

Read the full article.

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Hospital Closures Increasing

By Guy Gugliotta - Kaiser Health News

Despite residents’ concerns and a continuing need for services, the 25-bed hospital that served this small East Texas town for more than 25 years closed its doors at the end of 2014, joining the ranks of dozens of other small rural hospitals that have been unable to weather the punishment of a changing national health care environment.

The Kansas-based National Rural Health Association, which represents around 2,000 small hospitals throughout the country and other rural care providers, says that 48 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, the majority in Southern states, and 283 others are in trouble. In Texas along, 10 have changed. 

Rural hospitals suffer from multiple endemic disadvantages that drive down profit margins and make it virtually impossible to achieve economies of scale. These include declining populations; disproportionate numbers of elderly and uninsured patients; the frequent need to pay doctors better than top dollar to get them to work in the hinterlands; the cost of expensive equipment that is necessary but frequently underused; the inability to provide lucrative specialty services and treatments; and an emphasis on emergency and urgent care, chronic money-losers.

Read the full article and few the list of all hospital closures.

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Cradle of Shame

By The Post and Courier

Babies in a broad swath of rural South Carolina come into this world with little better chance of survival than a child born in war-torn Syria. They face a toxic mix of poverty, chronically sick mothers, premature birth and daunting barriers to health care.

The Palmetto State’s infant mortality rate hit an all-time low last year, but that achievement largely bypassed its rural corners, where infants, white and black, still die at third-world rates. More than 200 newborns from these rural counties have died on average during each of the last three years, many from preventable problems.

South Carolina is not alone in this disparity between either rural and urban or white and black rates of newborn deaths. In its latest two annual reports, Child Health USA 2012 and 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said infant mortality in rural counties, especially small ones, runs almost 10 percent higher than in urban areas.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

April 30: Impact of a Community Health Center (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinic - webinar
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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Are You Ready for ICD-10-CM/PCS Implementation?
The “ICD-10-CM/PCS Transition: Planning and Preparation Checklist” offers a comprehensive plan that can be followed to help foster a successful transition to ICD-10-CM/PCS. Provides specific guidance that addresses all areas of an organization that are impacted by the transition to ICD-10.

Strategies for Hiring and Training Care Managers in Integrated Programs Serving Medicare-Medicaid Beneficiaries
This brief shares strategies for hiring and training care managers for health plans with integrated care programs serving Medicare-Medicaid beneficiaries. It offers lessons from five health plans with integrated care products to inform other health plans and states.

Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI 2015)
CHSI 2015 is an interactive web application that produces health profiles for all 3,143 counties in the United States. Each profile includes key indicators of health outcomes, which describe the population health status of a county and factors that have the potential to influence health outcomes, such as health care access and quality, health behaviors, social factors and the physical environment.

Dissemination of Rural Health Research: A Toolkit
The Dissemination of Rural Health Research toolkit aims to assist researchers with reaching their target audiences by developing appropriate, timely, accessible, and applicable products. The toolkit includes a description of multiple modes of dissemination including discussion of the purpose of each product, which mode is appropriate given the topic and audience, and how to develop the product. Effective examples are provided where applicable. The included modes of dissemination were identified through collaboration with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) and feedback from representatives of the seven national Rural Health Research Centers.

CMS MLN Connects™ Weekly Provider eNews 

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Funding Opportunities

Visit the VRHA Resources webpage to see funding opportunities without specific deadlines.

The Dammann Fund
Funding to organizations who focus on mental health or teen parenthood.

Aetna Foundation GoLocal Cultivating Healthy Communities Grant 
Funding to organizations that create and expand community gardens, urban farms, and farmers markets.

DTA Foundation Grant
Application deadline: May 27, 2015
Awards funding to projects designed to increase access to oral health care.

Shirley Ann Munroe Leadership Award
Application deadline: Aug 21, 2015
Provides an educational stipend to a small or rural hospital administrator or chief executive officer to attend an AHA Annual Meeting or Health Forum Leadership Conference.

Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Grant Program (ROOR)
The program’s purpose is to reduce opioid overdose morbidity and mortality in rural areas through the purchase and placement of Naloxone and emergency devices, which are used to rapidly reverse the effects of opioid overdoses, and the training of licensed healthcare providers and emergency responders on the use of these devices.  FORHP plans to award one-year funding to no more than 18 rural partnerships for up to $100,000.  The deadline to apply is June 8, 2015. 
For further information, please contact:  Michele Gibson, 301-443-7320.  


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Blacksburg, VA 24060

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