Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  September 26, 2016

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


Newsletter available





Candidates for Congress

VRHA is, at its heart, a grassroots advocacy organization. We work with our elected officials to help them understand how their decisions affect health and healthcare in rural Virginia.

On the last day of the conference, attendees will have the opporunity to hear from two people who want to be making those decisions.

At 9am, Derek Kitts, Democratic candidate for Virginia's 9th Congressional District will address the conference.  At 11am, incumbent Republican will have the opportunity to do the same.

NOTE: VRHA does not endorse political candidates. This is an opportunity for our members to hear from both sides.

Click the conference logo to the right for event details.

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VRHA Annual Conference
October 19 & 20
Abingdon, VA

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Members in the News

By Jim Talbert - SWVA Today

Veterans in southwest Va. will have another choice for their medical care Nov. 1. John C. Harvey, Virginia’s Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs and Homeland Security joined county officials Aug. 31 to announce a veteran’s clinic is opening at [VRHA member] Carilion Tazewell Community Hospital.  Harvey said nearly 10 percent of the area’s population is veterans and the affiliation with Carilion provides them another option for access to quality health care.

The clinic will serve veterans in an eight county area and there are plans to offer transportation to those who need it. Mike Hymes, chairman of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors said the county had been working to obtain the clinic since 2007.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Expansion Budget

By Secretary Bill Hazel - Richmond Times Dispatch

The current state of the Virginia budget requires that we revisit the issue of Medicaid expansion. There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation about the impact and costs of expansion. It’s important that we correct these misunderstandings and, frankly, frequent misrepresentations. 

Medicaid expansion would have made the budget shortfall smaller. More important, we still have the opportunity to take this action, making medical care available to 400,000 Virginians while relieving some of the difficult budget decisions that lie ahead.

The facts clearly show that if we expanded Medicaid coverage, Virginia would actually experience a net savings of $71 million over the current two-year budget.

Read the full editorial and related article from the News Leader.

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STEM-H Gains

From the Office of the Governor

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia’s state agencies granted 5,778 more STEM-H Workforce Credentials during fiscal year 2016 than in fiscal year 2015. In August 2014, the Governor issued Executive Order 23 Establishing the New Virginia Economy Workforce Initiative, which challenged Virginia’s education and workforce development programs to produce 50,000 STEM-H Workforce Credentials a year by the end of the Governor’s administration. Virginia’s agencies are now producing 46,230 STEM-H workforce credentials a year.

STEM-H Workforce Credentials include industry certifications, occupational licenses, registered apprenticeship credentials, and college certificates and associate of applied science degrees aligned with STEM-H occupational skill sets. These workforce credentials can help job seekers attain good paying, high-demand technician, technologist, and trades jobs across the Commonwealth. Last year, according to a Burning Glass report, the Commonwealth had 175,000 vacancies for these jobs. 

Read the full press release.

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Close to Home


Rebecca Gadley’s father searched for months to find a therapist who could treat his teenage daughter for depression in their small Kentucky hometown. The few child psychiatrists within driving distance said she’d be waiting months for an appointment; another refused to accept new patients altogether.

Then, in January of this year, Rebecca’s father finally found someone who could see his daughter every week. Better yet, the treatment could start immediately. There was just one catch: Rebecca and her therapist would be separated by nearly 260 miles. She would be able to hear and see her therapist, but her “telehealth” appointments would mean that she might never get to shake her hand.

Read the full article and related story from MDDI.

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National News

Hospital Economy

By Ben Rowley - Lincoln County Record

Keeping the local hospital strong is a must for building a rural economy. It’s possible, but not easy.
In Nevada, Professors John Packham and Thomas Harris direct Nevada Rural Health Works (RHW), a program focused on the impact of healthcare on rural economies. In the Silver State it directly provides 6,000 to 7,000 good paying jobs and another 1,500 secondary jobs. In Humboldt county, which has a population of over 17,000, the dollar impact of rural healthcare numbers in the tens of millions.

For employers, having a local hospital means employees don’t take a day or two off just for routine doctor visits. Being able to go down the street to get blood drawn for example, “adds to the productivity of a rural economy,” Harris said.

Read the full article.

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Prison Epidemic

By Josh Keller and Adam Pearce - New York Times

Donnie Gaddis picked the wrong county to sell 15 oxycodone pills to an undercover officer. If Mr. Gaddis had been caught 20 miles to the east, in Cincinnati, he would have received a maximum of six months in prison, court records show. But Mr. Gaddis lived in Dearborn County, Ind., which sends more people to prison per capita than nearly any other county in the United States. After agreeing to a plea deal, he was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison.

A bipartisan campaign to reduce mass incarceration has led to enormous declines in new inmates from big cities, cutting America’s prison population for the first time since the 1970s. But large parts of rural and suburban America — overwhelmed by the heroin epidemic and concerned about the safety of diverting people from prison — have gone the opposite direction. Prison admissions in counties with fewer than 100,000 people have risen even as crime has fallen.

The divide does not appear to be driven by changes in crime, which fell in rural and urban areas at roughly equal rates, according to the F.B.I. Instead, it reflects growing disagreement about how harshly crime should be punished, especially drivers of the criminal justice system like theft, drugs, weapons and drunken driving. Cities have adopted a more lenient approach to drug offenses in particular, diverting many low-level drug offenders to probation or treatment rather than to jail.

Read the full article and related story in the Journal Courier.

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Mental Health Help

By Mattie Quinn - Governing

With 717 square miles to call its own, Codington County, S.D., is home to a handful of lakes and 28,000 people. As in any rural county, government resources are stretched thin, which made the costly overcrowding at the county jail all the more frustrating. Codington didn’t have an acute crime problem. Rather, the lack of mental health resources kept the same people cycling through county services: hospital emergency departments, social services and, eventually for many, the county jail.

Despite all of the obstacles, a movement toward changing the balance of access and care in rural regions is showing signs of life. It flickered in 2008 with a federal mental health parity law that required insurers to offer behavioral health services on par with primary care ones. But that rule has not been rigorously enforced. Now, spurred by aspects of the Affordable Care Act and by technology that can bring virtual care to those who need it, rural mental health experts see the new wave of innovation as a means of bringing much-needed help to counties. “We’ve just recently finished what I like to think of as chapter one in the story of mental health in rural America,” says Ron Manderscheid, executive director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, referring to the 2008 law. “I want to focus on chapter two, which is ever-evolving.”

Read the full article.

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Expansion Gap


It isn’t news that in rural parts of the country, people have a harder time accessing good health care. But new evidence suggests opposition to a key part of the 2010 health overhaul could be adding to the gap. The finding comes from a study published in the journal Health Affairs, which analyzes how the states’ decisions on implementing the federal health law’s expansion of Medicaid, a federal-state insurance program for low-income people, may be influencing rural hospitals’ financial stability. Nineteen states opted not to join the expansion.

Rural hospitals have long argued they were hurt by the lack of Medicaid expansion, which leaves many of their patients without insurance coverage and strains the hospitals’ ability to better serve the public. The study suggests they have a point.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

October 18: Rural Health Telecommunication Consortium Kick-Off Meeting - Abingdon
October 18-19:  Rural Health Coding & Billing Specialist Training  - Abingdon
October 19-20: VRHA Annual Conference - Abingdon
October 27: RHC Update Seminar - Compliance and Billing - Nashville, TN
February 5-8: Rural Healthcare Leadership Conference - Phoenix, AZ

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Healthcare Expansion Toolkit
Information from the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy to help you meet with your Delegate and Senator, organize a letter-writing opportunity in your congregation, ask your city, town or county to pass a resolution calling upon the General Assembly to expand healthcare by drawing down federal Medicaid dollars, answer questions people may have about the issue, learn what your faith tradition says about expanding healthcare.

SelfMade Health Network
A national network of dedicated professionals, organizations and communities seeking to eliminate cancer and tobacco-related disparities among our nation's most vulnerable, underserved and "high-risk" populations. As a cross-sector network of members, we aim to educate, empower and mobilize systems within communities nationwide for a healthier future. Website provides a variety of tools and resources.

Grant Writing for Rural Healthcare Projects
This newly updated topic guide provides tips on searching for rural-specific funding, grant proposal preparation, building successful funding relationships, and planning for program sustainability. 

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Funding Opportunities

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

Surdna Foundation
The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States – communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies and thriving cultures. They seek projects that focus on collaboration, long-term impact via policy or advocacy, can be replicated and expanded upon, engage leaderships among low-income communities, and/or addresses equity and social justice. The Foundation makes both project and general support grants and accepts letters of inquiry on a rolling basis. 

AmeriCorps State and National Grants 
AmeriCorps State and National engages in strategic grantmaking to support organizations that see service as a solution to local and national challenges. Multi-state, state, local and tribal grantees recruit, train and manage AmeriCorps members in direct service and capacity building activities to address unmet community needs in six focus areas:  education, healthy futures, clean energy/environment, veterans and military families, disaster services, and economic opportunity. 
Deadline: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 

The Milbank Foundation
The primary mission of the Milbank Foundation is to integrate people with disabilities into all aspects of American life. The Foundation's current priorities include consumer-oriented projects that enable people with disabilities to lead fulfilling, independent lives; innovative policy research and education on market-based approaches to healthcare and rehabilitation; improving and expanding quality health services, especially palliative care; and education and training of health and rehabilitation professionals. Nonprofit organizations may submit letters of inquiry throughout the year.

Wells Fargo Charitable Contributions Program
Wells Fargo is committed to improving the bank’s local communities across the country through grants and volunteer activities. The funding priorities of the Wells Fargo Charitable Contributions Program vary from state to state; however, the bank generally supports the following areas of interest: community development, including affordable housing, workforce development, financial literacy, and economic development; education, including K-12 and higher education; human services, including healthcare and basic needs; and arts, culture, and civic projects.

Increasing Openness and Transparency in Research
The purpose of this solicitation is to encourage and support a series of projects aimed at increasing transparency and accountability throughout the research life cycle, with a special emphasis on open access, to increase the speed of the flow of information from funded research to action. RWJF wants to use these grants to help increase our understanding, and the understanding of the research community, about the potential for these approaches to accelerate the discovery process and expand access to research findings.  
Deadline: October 5 - letter of intent, December 9 - full proposal

Improving the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorders 
The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) is requesting proposals from tax-exempt organizations for projects that evaluate existing treatment programs for addiction treatment, test new approaches, and re-orient government spending around effective programs that demonstrate measurable results.  
Deadline: December 15 

Accountable Health Communities: Track 1 – Awareness
This funding opportunity announcement is for the Track 1 – Awareness track only and includes the following elements: (1) screening of community-dwelling beneficiaries to identify certain unmet health-related social needs and (2) referral of community-dwelling beneficiaries to increase awareness of community services.
Application Deadline: Nov 3, 2016 

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Virginia Rural Health Association
2265 Kraft Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24060

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