Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  September 6, 2016

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


Newsletter available





Internet Discounts

VRHA has a grant to assist rural providers pay for internet service upgrades.  A kick-off meeting for the newly formed Virginia Rural Health Telecommunications Consortium will be held the afternoon prior to the VRHA conference.

Some providers are eligible to have the cost of attending the VRHA conference reimbursed as an incentive for attending the kick-off meeting. Contact Beth O'Connor (540-231-7923) to learn if you are eligible for a refund on conference registration, hotel, & mileage. 

Click here to learn more about the kick-off meeting and click the conference logo for details about the annual event.
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VRHA Annual Coonference
October 19 & 20
Abingdon, VA

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Deadline Approaching!

VRHA ​has funds available to assist students who wish to attend the VRHA 2016 Annual Conference.  Any full-time student studying a health-related profession may apply. Funds will cover conference registration fees.

Completed forms must be e-mailed to on or before September 9th.  Winners will be announced on September 16th.

Click here to download the application form.  Click the conference logo to the right for event details.

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Members in the News

From the Augusta Free Press

[VRHA member] Augusta Health is among eight hospitals in Maryland and Virginia to receive the Virginia Health Quality Center 2015 Quality Innovation Award. The award recognizes hospitals that are achieving reductions in hospital-acquired infections (HAI) and who are creating a culture of patient safety.  All hospitals enrolled in the VHQC Maryland-Virginia HAI Improvement Network were reviewed, based on 2015 calendar-year performance.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Pride & Anger

By Ike Koziol, Kenneth Olshansky and David F. Gardner - Richmond Times-Dispatch

The annual Remote Area Medical Clinic was held in Wise County in Southwest Virginia from July 21-24. This clinic treated more than 2,000 individuals who have no health insurance. It is an event that stirred up emotions of pride and anger in all three of us. Pride, because we came away feeling good that we helped people in need. Anger, because this clinic should not have to happen in the richest country in the world.

Do we all know that much of this suffering can be prevented? Do we even appreciate how much suffering there is in areas like Wise? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is all well and good, but without good health care a person can lose life early and not be free enough to pursue any semblance of happiness. We are all equal under God and that should include access to health care.

This is the reason we feel angry. Our state delegates and senators know this exists and they choose to ignore it. Good leaders should be interested in the welfare of all of their citizens. Our Republican legislators have blocked Medicaid expansion for many years. This expansion would cover an estimated 40,000 citizens in southwest Virginia and some 400,000 statewide.

Read the full article.

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Affordable Access

By Katie Demeria - Richmond Times-Dispatch

Even while double-digit rate increases loom for Virginians with Affordable Care Act plans in 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says reasonably priced plans will still be available to consumers in the commonwealth. 

Marketplace rates for 2017 will not be finalized until October, after they are reviewed by both state and federal regulators. But based on what was filed with Virginia’s State Corporation Commission earlier this summer, insurance companies are expecting rates to increase by an average of 14 percent in Virginia.

In its report, however, the Department of Health and Human Services states that, even if all rates increased by 25 percent, most consumers in Virginia — 74 percent — would still be able to purchase coverage for less than $75 per month.

Read the full article.

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Expansion = Budget Fix

Gov. Terry McAuliffe suggested tapping the state’s rainy day fund and accepting more federal Medicaid money as a way to patch the state’s $1.5 billion budget hole. McAuliffe (D) formally informed legislators of the budget shortfall, the result of lower-than-expected revenue from payroll and sales taxes, at a meeting of House and Senate money committees on Capitol Square.

“We could soften this budget shortfall significantly if Virginia agrees to expand Medicaid and accept federal dollars that remain on the table waiting for our decision,” McAuliffe said. “Those funds would go a long way in relieving some of the difficult budget actions that lie ahead.”

Read the full article and related story from AMNI Newswire.

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National News

Rx Drug Death Rates

By Tim Marema - Daily Yonder

Rural counties have seen a disproportionate jump in deaths from prescription-drug overdoses in the past 15 years, increasing at a pace three times that of the nation’s most urban counties. About three-quarters of all U.S. deaths caused by prescription drugs in 2014 were from opioid pain killers, making prescriptions a major part of the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Rural – or “noncore” – counties saw an average increase in prescription drug deaths rates of about 9 percent per year from 1999 to 2014. Central counties of large metropolitan areas (1 million residents or more), on the other hand, saw the death rate climb by less than 3 percent per year on average over the same period.

Read the full article.

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Suicide Economics

By Eric Thayer - Quartz

The state of the US economy has a lot to answer for these days, including a pervasive feeling of hopelessness, the perception that crime is rampant (even if it’s at near record lows), and Donald Trump’s poll numbers.

But perhaps the most troubling trend is the toll the economy seems to be taking on Americans’ mental health. Suicide rates have been on the rise—especially in economically depressed regions of the country, and especially among the middle aged. Suicide rates have increased everywhere, but the largest increase has come in rural areas.

Read the full article.

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Medicare Payment System

Lee Gross is worried. He has practiced family medicine in North Port, Fla., near Sarasota, for 14 years. But he and two partners are the last small, independent medical group in the town of 62,000. Everyone else has moved away, joined larger organizations or become salaried employees of hospitals or health companies.

The latest challenge — a target of growing physician anger and frustration nationwide — is a 2015 federal law that changes the way Medicare pays doctors. Many fear it will sharply increase the financial pressures that physicians in rural, solo and small practices face.

The new law has two payment tracks. On one, doctors whose performance and quality of care exceeds benchmarks will get bonuses of up to 4 percent of their total Medicare reimbursements. At the same time, physicians who score poorly on the benchmarks will face penalties at the same levels. The other track involves alternative payment models, which hold large practices or organizations accountable for the quality of care delivered by all of their physicians.

Read the full article.

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Free Standing ERs


Freestanding emergency centers have sprouted in recent years across the suburban landscape, taking root in affluent neighborhoods and directly challenging nearby medical clinics and hospitals.

As these centers offer another choice for people tired of deflating wait times at hospital emergency rooms, their escalating numbers are sending ripples across the health-care field. Critics say they do little to help those in rural America with dire medical needs, siphon away skilled emergency physicians and too often stick patients with overinflated bills.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

September 10: Forum on Prescription Drug Abuse for Healthcare Providers - Lynchburg
September 11: Forum on Prescription Drug Abuse for Healthcare Providers - Midlothian
September 20-21: Rural Health Clinic Conference - Kansas City, MO
September 21-23: Critical Access Hospital Conference - Kansas City, MO
September 23: Rural Health Funding Summit - South Boston
September 24: Forum on Prescription Drug Abuse for Healthcare Providers - Abingdon
September 25: Forum on Prescription Drug Abuse for Healthcare Providers - Blacksburg
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

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Rural Diabetes Prevention and Management Toolkit. 
In a project developed with support from FORHP, the Rural Health Information Hub provides seven learning modules in this toolkit to help providers prevent and/or manage diabetes in rural areas, where residents experience a 17% higher rate of type 2 diabetes than urban residents.  The modules include program models and successful examples, implications to consider for rural populations, and strategies for sustainability.

3RNet Recruiting for Retention Academy
Online educational opportunity to learn about tools and resources that can assist you in recruiting qualified providers to your rural and underserved areas.

Rural Hospital Toolkit for Transitioning to Value-based Systems
The Toolkit shares best practices for improving financial, operational and quality performance that position rural hospitals and networks for the future, as well as outlines strategies for transitioning to value-based purchasing and population health. Rural providers and leaders should use the Toolkit to identify performance improvement opportunities for their hospitals and networks, and develop strategies for successfully transitioning to population health.

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Funding Opportunities

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

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. Funds may be used for programs that utilize AmeriCorps member in the following areas: disaster services, economic opportunity, healthy futures, environmental stewardship, education, and veterans and military families.
Letter of Intent (Required): Dec 7, 2016
Application Deadline: Jan 18, 2017 

Henry Schein Cares Medal
The Henry Schein Cares Medal recognizes excellence in expanding access to healthcare for the underserved nationwide. Applying nonprofit organizations must demonstrate that their submitted program has expanded access to healthcare for the underserved in a novel and innovative way that is measurable and quantifiable. Emphasis will be placed on access to healthcare for children (birth to age 18), although all efforts to expand access to care will be considered, including those involving companion animal health. Programs must demonstrate potential for replication and large-scale impact. Three finalists will be selected among applicants from each of three fields: oral health, animal health, and medicine. In each category, a gold, silver, and bronze medalist will be chosen. Each medalist will receive a cash award in the following amounts: $15,000 for gold, $10,000 for silver, and $5,000 for bronze. In addition to the cash awards, each finalist will receive $10,000 worth of product from Henry Schein, Inc. The application deadline is October 5, 2016. 

Environmental Protection Agency
The Building the Capacity of Drinking Water Systems: Training and Technical Assistance for Small Systems program offers support to provide training and technical assistance to small public water systems, small wastewater systems, and private well owners located in urban and rural communities.
The application deadline is September 30, 2016. 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 
The annual program is designed to support research on suicide from a variety of disciplines. 6 innovation grant categories.
Deadline: Tuesday, November 15, 2016

AHRA and Toshiba Putting Patients First Program
The AHRA (Association for Medical Imaging Management) and Toshiba Putting Patients First Program seeks to improve pediatric and adult patient care and safety in diagnostic imaging. In 2016, the program will provide six grants of up to $7,500 each to single-site hospitals and imaging centers located in the United States. Three grants will be awarded for projects that improve the safety and comfort of pediatric imaging and three grants will be awarded for projects that improve overall patient care and safety in imaging. In addition, one grant of up to $20,000 will be awarded to an Integrated Delivery Network (IDN) or hospital system for projects that improve overall patient care and safety in imaging implemented across the IDN/hospital system. The projects funded by these grants will be used to create a best-practices tool to share with other hospitals and institutions.
The application deadline is October 28, 2016.

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Virginia Rural Health Association
2265 Kraft Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24060

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