VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  April 24, 2017

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


Newsletter now available




Be a Student Representative!

VRHA is accepting applications from students who wish to serve as a representative on the VRHA Board of Directors.  Up to five students will be selected for a one year appointment.  

Applications must be submitted no later than May 26, 2017
The VRHA Student Representatives to the Board of Directors are expected to serve as a communication link between the current leaders of VRHA and the future ones.  In order to meet this expectation, the students selected will need to interact with both the VRHA Board Members and students in a wide variety of health-related programs. The students selected will help VRHA achieve its strategic goals, with particular emphasis on increasing awareness of VRHA and the benefits of VRHA membership among students.   

Results will be announced on June 9, 2017.

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Join Us!

VRHA is proud to be a Participating Host of the 2017 Virginia Health Care Conference.

What impact does this uncertainty have on the business community as employers seek to lower costs and improve the health of their workforce? How are employers addressing health care within their organizations? What are the strategies for moving from a “volume” to “value” based system, and how are payers, providers, physicians and patients adapting? What impact is technology and innovation having on this transition?

Come join us in Richmond on June 8th for this important disucssion!

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Members in the News

By Caitlin Francis - WDBJ7

After more than 30 years and three clinic locations [VRHA member] Tri Area Community Health is expanding its Ferrum location. From small beginnings to making big plans. The Franklin County Community will soon have more options for affordable health care here in Ferrum.

“We’re talking about 5,000 square footage here, and we’re hoping to have about 16,300 square footage on our new site which is on Ferrum Mountain Rd. just around the corner,” said Larry Meadors, Board Member of Tri Area Clinic.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Short on Mental Health

By Elizabeth Hilscher - Washington Post

It is hard to believe that it has been 10 years since the horrific day at Virginia Tech when 32 students and faculty were killed and many others were injured by a young student with untreated mental illness. Ten years since countless lives and families were altered forever, including my own. And yet, in many ways it hurts like it was yesterday.
My daughter Emily was among the victims. She was 18, a freshman, an animal and poultry sciences major, and member of the equestrian team. She, like the others, had so much to offer and so much more to do.
While I searched for answers and attempted to understand how such a horrible event could occur, it became clear that a flawed and inadequate mental-health system was a major factor. That finding gave my surviving daughter and me the determination to move forward and be part of a movement to spur significant changes in Virginia’s mental-health system. Many individuals, organizations and agencies rallied to improve mental-health care in Virginia.
Although progress has been good, Virginia sits in the bottom half of states in overall ranking for mental health care per person. Virginia still needs funding to establish consistent and comprehensive services in all communities; to expand intervention, treatment and transition programs for young adults, especially for those experiencing the first signs of mental illness; to attract and retain mental-health providers in the face of a critical workforce shortage; and to establish strict quality and performance outcomes to meet the needs of families and communities in our commonwealth.

Read the full editorial.

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Addiction Treatment Beds

By Christine Vestal - Stateline

In the throes of an opioid epidemic that killed more than 33,000 people in 2015 alone, the nation’s supply of residential treatment slots falls far short of the number needed to serve everyone who walks in, gets dropped off by police, or is transferred from a hospital or crisis center. Waitlists persist almost everywhere, primarily because of a growing number of people addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers.

To boost the number of beds available for low-income residents, the federal government has granted California, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York a waiver of an obscure Medicaid rule that prohibits the use of federal dollars for addiction treatment provided in facilities with more than 16 beds. Seven other states — Arizona, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Utah and Virginia — are seeking similar permission.

In March, the Trump administration’s new Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, told governors that the agency would continue the Obama administration’s waiver policies for residential facilities with 16 or more beds.

Read the full article.

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Public Health in Appalachia

By Tiana Bohner - WCYB5

A new group is getting involved in the conversation about rural health in our region. Public health leaders tell us there is a health crisis in Appalachia. Now national leaders in communication are weighing in to find solutions.

Experts from the National Communication Association tell me their focus is how to use communication to combat health disparities here. That means not only looking at how healthcare is discussed on a national level, but also, looking at the personal level between patients and doctors.

Read the full article.

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National News

Veterans' Choice Extension

By Erin Mahn Zumbrun - National Rural Health Association

President Donald Trump signed legislation to extend the Veterans’ Choice Program, which was set to expire in August. This temporary extension will allow veterans to continue to access timely care in their own communities until the roughly $1 billion in remaining previously appropriated funding is expended.

NRHA applauds the continuation of the Choice program. Rural veterans often face significant challenges in accessing health care services, from the lack of full VA facilities in rural America to the limited service offerings at those facilities. This is particularly concerning since a disproportionate number of veterans are from rural America, and many return to rural areas following their service to our nation.

However, this is only a temporary extension and does not provide any new funding nor does it tackle some of the problems faced by the program. The bill does eliminate a requirement that VA act as the secondary payer, which has increased costs and unnecessary burdens for providers. A replacement for the Choice program is expected this fall, according to VA Secretary David Shulkin.

NRHA encourages Congress and the Administration to continue to work to fix problems in the Choice program, including the timely reimbursement problems many rural providers are facing in the program.

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Recess Tips

From the National Rural Health Association

Your Senators and Representatives are back in the district. Take advantage of the Congressional recess by reaching out to your elected official to discuss rural health issues that are important to you.

Three fixes that must be included in any modification to the Affordable Care Act are

  1. Medicaid
  2. Market Reform
  3. Stop Bad Debt to Rural Hospitals

Click here for details on these three issues and tips on connecting with your members of Congress.

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Concussion Experts

From Medical Press

From bustling cities to tiny farming communities, the bright lights of the local stadium are common beacons to the Friday night ritual of high school football.  But across the sprawling stretches of rural America, these stadiums are commonly far from doctors who could quickly diagnose and treat head injuries that have brought so much scrutiny to the sport.

A first-of-its-kind study from the Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute and Mayo Clinic shows the technology exists to ease this dilemma: By using a remote-controlled robot, a neurologist sitting hundreds of miles from the field can evaluate athletes for concussion with the same accuracy as on-site physicians.

Read the full article.

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USAC Funding

From the Schools, Health, and Libraries Broadband Coalition

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) announced earlier today that qualifying applicants in the Rural Health Care Program who submitted requests for funding during the September – November 2016 filing window period will not be fully funded.  Qualifying applicants for the FY2016 September – November filing window period will receive a pro-rata percentage of 92.5% of their requested funding (a reduction of 7.5%).
John Windhausen, Jr., Executive Director of SHLB stated; “The SHLB Coalition appreciates the difficult position faced by USAC, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and applicants in the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program.  For the first time, demand for RHC program funding in FY 2016 has exceeded the $400 Million cap, and as a result, several rural telehealth providers will suffer reductions in funding.  Unfortunately, this will mean that many rural health centers will be forced to pay more to maintain their existing telemedicine connections, and some of these clinics may be forced off the network altogether, which jeopardizes the quality of health care delivered to rural America.  This funding crisis points to the need for comprehensive reform of the RHC program, which the SHLB Coalition requested in its Petition for Rulemaking filed in December 2015.  The RHC program is the only one of the four Universal Service Fund programs that has not been fully reformed, and we urge the FCC to move forward to upgrade this program as soon as possible.”

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Mark Your Calendar

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

May 9: Rural Medical Education Conference - San Diego, CA
May 9-12: 40th Annual Rural Health Conference - San Diego, CA
May 9-12: Rural Hospital Innovation Summit - San Diego, CA
May 19: Aging in Appalachia Conference - Marion
May 23: Synthetic Narcotic & Opioid Abuse Prevention Seminar - Big Stone Gap
June 8: Virginia Health Care Conference - Richmond
June 21: Responding to Natural Disasters in Rural Communities  - webinar
August 16: A Focus on Suicide Prevention in Rural Communities  - webinar

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Population Health Portal
Created in cooperation with the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, is designed to help critical access hospitals, Flex Coordinators and rural health networks navigate the journey towards improved population health.

Community Health Assessment Toolkit
A web-based tool that offers a nine-step pathway to guide and support a robust, community-engaged health assessment process. Newly revised to better address the full cycle from assessment through implementation, this toolkit provides strategies for each step of the process and a wealth of resources, including The Guide to Community Preventive Services and other sources of evidence-based interventions. 

Demonstrating Critical Access Hospital Value: A Guide to Potential Partnerships
Using a market-based approach, this guide assists critical access hospital (CAH) leadership in identifying ways to demonstrate the value they bring to potential partners including networks, affiliations, payers, community-based organizations or accountable care organizations (ACOs).

Strategic Plan for Preventing Diabetes in Virginia
Prediabetes is a growing problem in Virginia with more than 1 out of 3 adults having been diagnosed.  Given this alarming number, it is critical that steps be taken to prevent both prediabetes and diabetes.  A group of stakeholders met in September 2016 to discuss just that – an action plan to scale and sustain diabetes prevention efforts.  

No Wrong Door Virginia
A virtual system and statewide network of shared resources, designed to streamline access to long term services and supports – connecting individuals, providers and communities across the Commonwealth

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Funding Opportunities

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

Continuum of Care Program Collaborative Applicant Registration (CoC)
The Continuum of Care Program provides grants for community collaboration projects that assist individuals and families who are homeless by providing supportive care services, transitional housing, and permanent housing. Projects must designate a collaborative applicant and successfully complete a collaborative registration process to be eligible to apply for funding.
Application Deadline: May 1, 2017 

Phyllis and Milton Berg Family Respite Care Grant
Funding to help alleviate the cost of respite care for families caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.
Application Deadline: Jun 1, 2017 

NACHC Policy Internship Program
Internships in Washington, D.C. for individuals who are interested in improving health for medically underserved communities and the relationship between health centers and the evolving healthcare system.
Application Deadline: Jun 30, 2017 

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