VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  February 5, 2018

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


February Newsletter




VRHA in the News 

By Beth O'Connor - Bacon's Rebellion

In the January 24th edition of Bacon’s Rebellion, author James A. Bacon poses the question; “Are Broke Rural Hospitals Worth Saving?” He acknowledges that many of Virginia’s rural hospitals are in trouble, but wonders if it makes financial sense to let them die.

The problem with his question is that he is only considering the issue in terms of healthcare dollars and outcomes. The reality is that a small rural hospital means much more to the local community and taxpayers than just a place to go when you have a heart attack.

Read the full editorial.

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Members in the News

By Jeff Lester - Coalfield Progress

This is where the region’s illicit drug problem has come to: A proposal to provide clean needles and syringes to users. Local, state and federal health officials say such a program is needed for reasons that include preventing the spread of disease.

Lenowisco Health District Director [VRHA member] Dr. Sue Cantrell seeks the blessing of local governments to step up the region’s drug use “harm reduction” efforts.

Read the full article.

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More Members in the News

By Luanne Rife - Roanoke Times

[VRHA member] Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine and Bluefield College said Wednesday they have created a new master’s degree program to prepare students for medical school that will guarantee its graduates admission to VCOM.

Classes for the master of arts in biomedical sciences degree will be offered on VCOM’s Blacksburg campus. The 35-credit-hour curriculum will emphasize biomedical coursework, research, field study and seminars in professional development.

Students who meet academic and performance benchmarks will be admitted into the doctor of osteopathic medicine program at one of VCOM’s three campuses. Similar programs at other schools guarantee interviews but not admission.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Expansion - with Strings

By Laura Vozzella - Washington Post

Virginia House Speaker M. Kirkland Cox on Monday signaled that Republicans would be willing to go forward with some kind of Medicaid expansion if Democrats support a work ­requirement for recipients.

He did so in a letter addressed to Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who made expansion the cornerstone of his 2017 campaign and greeted the missive as good news. But the letter reads like an ultimatum.

It warns the new governor that expansion could hinge on the fate of two bills to impose work requirements on existing Medicaid recipients. The bills, which come before the House Rules Committee on Tuesday, would require the state to apply for a federal waiver to impose work requirements on existing Medicaid recipients.

Read the full article.

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Ballad Merger

By David McGee - Bristol Herald Courier

The Tennessee Department of Health issued a Certificate of Public Advantage January 31 to allow two area health care systems to join and form Ballad Health. The department issued a written statement, where Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner announced the state is officially allowing a merger of Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance.

The Virginia Department of Health is expected to issue its cooperative agreement, which is similar to the Tennessee COPA.

Read the full article and related stories from Johnson City Press (and 2nd story), WJHL, and Bristol Herald Courier.

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JCHS - RU Merger

By Luanne Rife - Roanoke Times

Carilion Clinic’s Jefferson College of Health Sciences will become part of Radford University under a plan announced last month. The merger of Jefferson into Radford’s Waldron College of Health and Human Services is expected to take up to two years to complete, as leaders of the three entities determine how to combine the private college with the public university, which programs to keep, expand or create, and the types of housing and other services the students will require.

“The nidus of all health careers is here in Roanoke,” said Nancy Agee, CEO of Carilion, which owns Jefferson College. “The opportunity is here for Jefferson College and Radford University to have all the health careers here as we flesh out even more the health sciences and technology campus. So that’s the really exciting part of this is being able to bring a lot more students to the area to grow our whole focus on health sciences.”

Read the full article.

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National News

Funding in Peril

By Harris Meyer - Modern Healthcare

Healthcare stakeholders are watching in horror as the fate of a number of critical healthcare programs has gotten bound up in Congress' intractable political battle over immigration.
The short-term continuing budget resolution approved by lawmakers Jan. 22 to keep the federal government open through Feb. 8 provided a big jolt of relief by extending funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program for six years, ensuring coverage for nearly 9 million kids.
But the continuing resolution deal left federally qualified community health centers, hospitals serving the poor, rural hospitals and substance abuse treatment centers hanging, as President Donald Trump and Republicans and Democrats in Congress seemingly remain far apart on immigration issues.

Read the full article.

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More Treatment Options

From Reuters

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said on Tuesday it had changed a regulation to allow more healthcare professionals to prescribe a medication used to treat opioid addiction, opening up access in rural America where there are few doctors.
Prior to 2000, only physicians could treat those with opioid addiction and had to register with the DEA as both physicians and operators of narcotic treatment programs. The latest change is part of a 2016 law that added categories of practitioners who may prescribe the narcotic drug buprenorphine for maintenance or detoxification treatment, the DEA said in a statement.
A 2017 study published by the National Rural Health Association found that 53 percent of rural counties had no physician able to prescribe medication to those addicted to opioids, the DEA said. About 90 percent of physicians allowed to prescribe such medication live in urban counties, and 30 million people live in areas where treatment is unavailable.

Read the full article and DEA press release.

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Medicare Card Campaign

From CMS

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has kicked off the New Medicare Card campaign, designed to promote awareness to beneficiaries, their families, caregivers, and advocates.  We also want to remind this audience to be wary of scam artists and provide tips for protecting themselves.   We hope your organization will join in this effort.
What you need to know:
In April 2018, CMS will begin a year-long process of sending Medicare beneficiaries a New Medicare Card that will have a unique Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), thereby removing the social security number from the Medicare card.   Medicare will automatically mail the new card at no cost to the address on file with Social Security. There’s nothing Medicare beneficiaries need to do!  If they need to update their official mailing address, they should contact Social Security Administration by visiting the online my Social Security account.
We have materials that you can order FREE of charge and FREE delivery.  Visit here to see flyers in several languages that partners can download and print, or click on the link there that lets you ORDER these products. 
What we are asking:
We ask your organization to do what it can to help inform and protect people with Medicare.   CMS has provided new resources that you can use.  Below are direct links to the new materials. 

How you can help:
  • Share the resources with your consumers, your colleagues, partners and community.  Email this to your distribution lists!
  • Display a poster
  • Provide flyers at strategic locations in your office, center, at check-out locations
  • Add Social Media Graphics - see toolkit above
  • Add widget to your signature or website
  • Use the Public Service Announcement (PSA) scripting for any newsletters, bulletins, or public service announcements
  • Share the information at community meetings, staff meetings

If there is additional information you need, please feel free to contact debbie.feierman@cms.hhs.gov

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Mark Your Calendar

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

March 3: Educational Forum on Prescription Drug Abuse - Martinsville
March 4: Educational Forum on Prescription Drug Abuse - Roanoke
April 15-17: MATRC Annual Telehealth Summit - Hershey, PA
May 8: Health Equity Conference - New Orleans, LA
May 8: Rural Medical Education Conference - New Orleans, LA
May 8-11: Annual Rural Health Conference - New Orleans, LA
May 8-11: Rural Hospital Innovation Summit - New Orleans, LA

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Virginia Health Opportunity Index
Multiple factors can affect your overall health. The Virginia Health Opportunity Index (HOI) is a compilation of that information and creates a visual representation.  Includes dashboard that provide information by county, health district, and legislative district, as well as the following profiles: Community Environmental Profile, Consumer Opportunity Profile, Economic Opportunity Profile, and Wellness Disparity Profile

Guidance for Surveyors: Rural Health Clinics
CMS recently released a new version of the State Operations Manual (SOM) Appendix G - Guidance for Surveyors: Rural Health Clinics.

Rural Schools and Health
This guide has been updated with a new Frequently Asked Question on what rural schools can do to help address Adverse Childhood Experiences in their students. 

2017 Rural Health Report Card
Provides an overview of healthcare in rural America and comparatively ranks rural health for each state. Details the reasoning behind the rankings for multiple measures related to mortality, quality of life, and access to care. Includes a discussion on rural healthcare facilities, the urban-rural divide, and rural resources available within the state.

Opioid Crisis Library

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Funding Opportunities

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

Addressing Violence Against Women in Rural Areas – February 15 [DEADLINE EXTENDED] 
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) will make 45 awards of up to $750,000 each to support projects in rural jurisdictions that address and prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.  Eligible applicants include city, county and state governments, Native American tribal governments, nonprofits and public institutions of higher education.  
The original January 31 deadline for applications has been extended to February 15.  


RWJF Change Leadership Programs
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supports clinical and health policy leadership to lead change across disciplines and sectors.  RWJF seeks scholars and leaders from underrepresented populations and backgrounds each year.  Themes for the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Program for 2018 focus on better health care delivery for rural America.  
 - Culture of Health: February 21
 - Health Policy Research Scholars: March 14
 - Interdisciplinary Research Leaders: March 14
 - Clinical Scholars: March 14

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program 
Eligible nurses working full time in a Critical Shortage Facility may receive up to 85% repayment of their unpaid nursing education debt in exchange for a two-year commitment to stay and practice in rural and other underserved areas.  The first of two technical assistance calls for interested applicants will take place on Thursday, February 8 at 2:00 pm ET
Deadline: March 8

Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment Program
Grants to implement screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment services for adolescents and adults in primary care and community health settings for substance misuse and substance use disorders.
Application Deadline: Feb 21, 2018 

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