VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  September 5, 2017

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


Newsletter now available




Healthcare Safety Net

Governor McAuliffe released the following statement on Anthem’s decision to leave the federal health insurance exchange in Virginia: "Today’s decision will result in more than 200,000 Virginians losing their quality, affordable coverage through Anthem, representing approximately half of the Virginians who purchase insurance on the exchange."

How do we reach the people that tend to fall through the cracks?  How can we provide better services to Veterans, the homeless, and others that don't tend to fit into our typical program boxes?

Join the conversation at the Rural Providers Conference. Carissa South of 211 Virginia will lead the "Healthcare Safety Net" breakout session.  
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October 25 & 26
South Boston, VA

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Reminder: MIPS Technical Support


2017 is the performance year for the Medicare Quality Payment Program. Clinicians must participate in the QPP or face a negative payment adjustment in 2019.
IPRO has contracted with CMS to provide technical assistance, free of charge, to MIPS-eligible clinicians in small practices.  On September 6th at noon, IPRO will host a webinar for Virginia clinics to provide an overview of the QPP, discuss available resources, and explain how IPRO can help guide your practice in transitioning to this new payment program and work with you to avoid the negative payment adjustment in 2019.

Click here to register for the webinar. We also information about the Quality Payment Program and a Resource Guide.

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Members in the News

From WDBJ7

[VRHA member] Tri-Area Community Health Center in Franklin County is celebrating 10 years serving the community. Now, they're expanding their Ferrum location, from a 5,000 square ft. to 16, 300 square ft. in a brand-new facility right up the road.

"Much larger clinic, and pharmacy, drive through window, mental health, and we'd eventually like to get into the dental part,” said Larry Meadors, Board Member of Tri-Area Community Health. 

Read the full article and watch the video.

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Virginia News

Lee County Hospital Sale

By Luanne Rife - Roanoke Times

Lee County has opted to sell its idle hospital to a startup with little experience and no proof of capital, rejecting an offer by a regional provider that planned to immediately provide urgent care.

In a 5-3 vote, [VRHA member] Lee County Hospital Authority entered into a letter of intent with Florida-based Americore Health to sell the hospital for $2 million, with the expectation that Americore will pursue opening a critical access care hospital along with implementing its business plan to run enhanced laboratory services and provide behavioral health care. The agreement does not specify when Americore would begin to offer health care.

Initially, Lee County had been in talks with Mountain States to manage the hospital. Last summer, Americore CEO Grant White arrived on the scene and said his startup was implementing a new business model for health care. He said Americore would lease the building from the county and provide emergency care, hospital beds, diagnostics and more.

Read the full article.

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Health Wagon

From the Patient-Center Primary Care Collaborative

The Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC) announced the recipients of its 2017 advanced primary care leadership awards, which honor diverse members of the clinical team involved in providing high value primary care or shaping related policies that support such care.

The PCPCC will present the Health Wagon with the Primary Care Community/Research Leadership Award, recognizing the organization’s commitment to ensuring that primary care is foundational to the community. The Health Wagon is a nonprofit organization founded in 1980 that provides mobile health services to the medically underserved in Southwest Virginia. The organization has more than 9,000 annual patient encounters for which patients receive comprehensive primary and preventive health care services. 

Read the full article.

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Close to Home

By Allison Kodjak - NPR

In Prince George's County, Md., every first responder carries naloxone, the drug that can reverse an opioid overdose. The first responders in Prince George's County are pulling the drug out of the bag more than ever. Last year they administered 877 doses to people who had overdosed. This year, they're on track to administer 1,230 doses, Spies says. That averages out to more than three doses a day in just one county.

The prices of some brands of naloxone have risen in recent years, according to an analysis by the investment research firm SSR Health for NPR. The price of a vial of generic naloxone made by the company Amphastar rose from about $4 in 2009 to about $16 this year, according to SSR.

Read the full article.

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National News

Rural OB

By Ali Galante and Maggie Fox - NBC News

Babies often come in the middle of the night and it was no different for Clare Shirley. But instead of a convenient trip to a nearby hospital, Shirley and her husband Dan embarked on a frightening middle-of-the-night race to the delivery room. That’s because the closest hospital had stopped delivery services a year earlier, and the baby was coming too fast for them to make it to the nearest big city hospital in Duluth.

It’s a problem affecting people across rural America as hospitals struggling to break even shut down expensive and staff-heavy maternity wards. 

But one innovative program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health aims to reverse the trend by training obstetrician/gynecologists in rural areas with the goal of having them practice in the area. 

Read the full article.

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Opioid Treatment Desert

By Brian Rinker - STAT

Heather Menzel squirmed in her seat, unable to sleep on the Greyhound bus as it rolled through the early morning darkness toward Bakersfield, in California’s Central Valley. She’d been trapped in transit for three miserable days, stewing in a horrific sickness only a heroin addict can understand.

Lake Isabella sits in the Kern River Valley, home to 32 churches but not a single methadone clinic or doctor able or willing to prescribe buprenorphine. Like half the counties in California, the valley is an opioid “treatment desert.”

“In rural areas, historically, there has been a lot of stigma around addiction treatment,” said Kelly Pfeifer, a primary care doctor and opioid project director at the California Health Care Foundation. “Although the state is trying to remedy this, there are still wide treatment deserts across California.”

Read the full article.

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Nursing Homes for Veterans

By Matt Voltz - ABC News

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said  during a visit to Montana that his agency will propose changes to make it easier for rural areas to receive funding to build nursing homes for veterans. 

Rural areas are often bypassed under the agency's existing guidelines for awarding grants for veterans' homes, Shulkin told reporters after touring VA facilities and meeting with veterans in Helena.

The VA now sets its priority list by looking at veteran demographics and the need for beds, making it difficult for some rural areas to compete, VA officials said. The agency plans to propose regulation changes by year's end to ensure some of the money goes specifically to rural areas.

Read the full article.

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Rural Medical Hubs 

By Craig Settles - Daily Yonder

Pioneering communities provide some valuable lessons. Loma Linda, California, is a town with about 23,000 people. With long-range planning and gig infrastructure, small towns in rural areas could emulate Loma Linda and become medical hubs to increase the quality medical care typically lacking in rural areas.

Loma Linda’s network helped 1) improve the financial health of existing medical facilities, 2) increase the number of healthcare facilities AND professionals, and 3) attract hospitality facilities for out-of-town guests visiting sick relatives. The town shifted from residential and business sales in 2009 to sell internet access services primarily to businesses, hospitals and small physician practices that connected their two or three offices.

The town’s healthcare institutions’ employees increased by 20% since 2009. More than 20,000 people work in that industry (the small city is adjacent to the much larger city of San Bernardino and is part of a metro area of about 2 million). There’s a hospital bed for every house in Loma Linda. Shifting the focus of broadband to modernizing healthcare was responsible for convincing the government to build a VA clinic in town that brought in 1,500 jobs and generates $500,000 annually in property taxes.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

September 7: Empowering a Rural Community to Create a Culture of Health - webinar
September 11: REVIVE! Opioid Overdose Education - Abingdon
September 21: Financial Distress and Closures of Rural Hospitals - webinar
September 25 & 26: The Governor's Summit on Rural Prosperity - South Boston, VA
October 24 & 25: Rural Health Documentation & Coding Bootcamp  - South Boston, VA
October 25 & 26: Virginia Rural Providers Conference - South Boston, VA
November 12 & 13: Virginia Telehealth Network Summit - Richmond

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Model Program: Spit It Out - West Virginia
Created by the Southern Coalfields Tobacco Prevention Coalition Network, the Spit It Out program partnered with mining companies to reduce tobacco use, particularly smokeless tobacco use, in 6 counties in West Virginia's "Coal Country." Spit It Out provides miners and their spouses with education, a medical consultation, and immediate access to the nicotine replacement therapy of their choice. 

Model Program: Lunch Express Summer Food Program
When school lunches are unavailable during summer, food insecurities exist for children. With re-purposed school buses and a mission to serve unique populations, Second Harvest Food Bank of NE Tennessee feeds nearly 350 rural children in remote regions. 

Rural & Community Healthcare Collaborative
A charity organization dedicated to raising funds for struggling rural hospitals confronting financial viability. As a 501(c)3 organization, RCHC will make available no- and low-cost consulting services to troubled community hospitals to help ensure their solvency and sustainability.

AHRQ Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) issued its annual report, mandated by Congress, providing a comprehensive overview of the quality of health care received in the U.S. and disparities experienced by different racial and socioeconomic groups.  In addition to trends and changes in disparities over time, the report looks at initiatives across the country demonstrating quality improvement for vulnerable populations.  

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Funding Opportunities

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

Resident Opportunity and Self Sufficiency Service Coordinator Program
Grants to fund Service Coordinators to assist residents of public and Indian housing in making progress towards self-sufficiency, including the provision of job training, employment, adult education, housing, and health resources.
Application Deadline: Oct 23, 2017 

AmeriCorps State and National Grants
Funding for programs that are designed to strengthen communities and solve local problems, including those found in rural and underserved areas.
Letter of Intent (Optional): Dec 13, 2017
Application Deadline: Jan 17, 2018 

Students to Service Loan Repayment Program
The National Health Service Corp (NHSC) is now accepting applications for their 2018 Students to Service Loan Repayment Program. The S2S awards up to $120,000 to medical and dental students in their final year of school in return for a commitment to provide primary care services full-time for at least 3 years at an approved NHSC site in an underserved rural, tribal or urban area.
Application Deadline: October 19

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