Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  June 13, 2016

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Resources
Funding Opportunities
VRHA Site

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VRHA News

VRHA Network!

The Virginia Rural Health Association has been awarded a U.S Department of Health & Human Services Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant in the amount of $97,864.00.  VRHA will use the grant to support the creation of the Virginia Rural Health Telecommunications Consortium (VRHTC).  The consortium would draw down federal funds to improve health information technology applications in rural communities. 
 
Once established, VRHTC will have the capacity to participate in Federal Communication Commission (FCC) programs which would reduce prices for higher bandwidth and offer better connectivity for rural healthcare providers.  Participation would encourage competitive bidding by telecommunications providers across the state, resulting in lower fees for the participating consortium members; and access to funds for equipment and facilities, and equipment necessary to manage a dedicated healthcare broadband network.

See the VRHA website for more information.

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Members in the News

- Roanoke Times

“If you go to Brazil and come back with Zika, and a mosquito bites you and then bites me, then I can get Zika from the mosquito population that got it from you. We in Virginia are trying to prevent that for as long as we can,” said [VRHA member] Dr. Molly O’Dell, medical director of the New River district of the Virginia Department of Health.

O’Dell worries that we’ve become complacent about mosquitoes, viewing them as a nuisance rather than a health threat, and will fail to do our part to keep them from breeding and feeding on infected people.

Read the full article.

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More Members in the News

By  - WDBJ7

[VRHA member] Rockbridge Area Health Center in Lexington served more than three thousand insured, uninsured, and low income patients last year and that number is rising.  They plan to use a million dollar grant to renovate and expand, but recently ran into a hiccup.
"We were disappointed," said Sheridan. "But it was also an opportunity for us to really look at the community and we've decided then to develop more of a master plan."
 
She said that master plan will help them figure out the needs of the facility over the next few years. On top of that, they're re-thinking what kind of changes they should make to the building for the most efficient use of the grant.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Insurance Mergers

From Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare

There have been a raft of recent headlines about the planned mergers of health insurance giants Anthem with Cigna, and Aetna with Humana, and how those mergers might affect the availability and price tag of healthcare coverage. The proposed mergers would reduce the number of major health insurers nationally from five to three, and in Virginia would cement Anthem as the dominant player in both the ACA Marketplace and employer coverage. That level of market power could put all the cards in the hands of the insurers, leaving consumers with a very limited number of choices in healthcare.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on the results of a poll of Virginia consumers, which showed that 87% of the 1,300 people surveyed were concerned about the impact of the merger on the citizens of our state. Only 20 percent of the respondents knew that the top five insurance companies in the country could be reduced to three, while only 30 percent knew that the State Corporation Commission has the power to regulate if and how the mergers occur in Virginia.

Read the full commentary.

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Budget Veto

By Michael Martz - Richmond Times-Dispatch

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is reopening the door to expanding Virginia’s Medicaid program by vetoing a provision of the state budget that he said unconstitutionally ties all spending in the $105 billion document to a bar against accepting federal funding to expand health coverage of uninsured Virginians.

The line-item veto announced by McAuliffe would eliminate the so-called Stanley amendment, sponsored two years ago by Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin, to prevent the governor from appropriating billions of dollars in federal funding under the Affordable Care Act without General Assembly approval to expand health coverage.

Read the full article and related article from Becker's Hospital Review.

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Escaping the Gap

By Katie Demeria - Richmond Times-Dispatch

There may be a gaping health insurance coverage gap in Virginia, but at least it’s escapable. Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act marketplace ended Jan. 31, but Virginia residents who have a change in circumstances that qualifies them for subsidized health insurance, such as marriage or a new job, do not have to wait until next year to get insurance — they might qualify for a special enrollment period.

There are various ways to qualify for special enrollment periods, from life changes such as getting married, having or adopting a child, leaving incarceration, gaining citizenship, graduating or moving.

But anyone who simply starts earning enough money to pull themselves over the federal poverty line, such as an unemployed person finding a job or a part-time employee getting full-time work, can qualify. The federal poverty line is at $11,880 a year for an individual and $24,300 for a family of four.

Read the full article.

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National News

ARCH Funding

By Christopher Bouchard - Aroostook Republican & News

Veterans and supporters from around the region gathered at Cary Medical Center to share their concerns and push for renewal of a model rural health program that is set to expire in early August.

U.S. Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin assured the veterans that they would be taken care of no matter what happens to the popular Access Received Closer to Home or ARCH program. Shulkin, who was invited to Caribou by members of Maine’s congressional delegation, toured the facility with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin to learn more about the program, which was established in Caribou in 2011 as one of five pilot sites around the country.

Collins and fellow U.S. Sen. Angus King have introduced legislation that would keep ARCH running through 2021, while Poliquin and fellow Rep. Chellie Pingree submitted a companion bill in the House. Still, Collins said she separately was trying to get the VA to administratively authorize continuation of the program permanently.

Read the full article.

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Drawing Dentists

From KSL.com

A program that offers assistance in paying off student loans is helping draw dentists to small towns in Iowa. Since the grant program started in 2002, 28 of the 31 dentists who received the financial aid have remained in Iowa. Sixty-five of Iowa's 99 counties are short on dentists.

Adrienne D'Agostino Kane is receiving $80,000 in tuition reimbursement that helped make it possible for her to take over her father's practice in Maquoketa and serve the community she grew up in. Delta Dental of Iowa provides most of the grant money while the state and local communities add to the total. Participants receive $50,000 from the insurance agency, $25,000 from Iowa and $5,000 or more from local communities.

Read the full article.

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Surgery Safety

By Mary Elizabeth Dallas - HealthDay 

Having a commonplace surgery -- such as a gallbladder removal -- may be safer when done in a rural hospital compared to a suburban or city hospital, a new study finds.

"This study gives credence to what rural surgeons long suspected -- that well-done rural surgery is safe and cost-effective," study author Dr. Tyler Hughes said in a University of Michigan news release. 

The study also revealed that it cost Medicare about $1,400 less for the same operation at a rural hospital than at a larger hospital.

Read the full article and review the JAMA study.

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Opioid Epidemic

By Zachary Toliver - RHI Hub

Opioids have seeded their way into every community and social class across the country. In rural areas, the epidemic is challenging the limits of healthcare delivery systems. As the CEO of Margaret Mary Health (MMH) in Batesville, Indiana, Tim Putnam has seen first-hand the effects of opioid use in a rural community. From overdose, to blood-borne infections, to the need for treatment, MMH has been struggling to keep up with the increasing needs. In 2014, the hospital in the town of 6,500 people documented 34 cases of Hepatitis C, more than triple the previous year’s number.

That same year, MMH had 27 overdose cases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of death from opioid-related overdoses is 45 percent higher in nonmetropolitan counties.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

June 15: Innovations in Patient Centered Medical Home Adoption - webinar
June 16: Provider Cost Containment in a Rural Healthcare Environment - webinar
June 21: Getting Fit for the Future: Community Hospitals in a Time of Transition - webinar
June 23: 3 Key Strategies to Battling the Nursing Shortage - webinar
July 13-15: Rural Quality & Clinical Conference - Oakland, CA
September 20-21: Rural Health Clinic Conference - Kansas City, MO
September 21-23: Critical Access Hospital Conference - Kansas City, MO

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Resources

Model Program: Gloucester ANGEL Program
In rural Massachusetts, the Gloucester Police Department initiated an opioid outreach program that has helped over 400 people find treatment for the disease of addiction. 

TalkAboutIt.org
A new website to raise awareness about epilepsy and to help people with epilepsy talk about their condition with others. 

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Funding Opportunities

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

Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training for Paraprofessionals and Professionals
Awards funding to colleges and universities to support pre-degree internships and field placements for students pursuing careers in certain behavioral health careers. Special consideration will be given to programs that provide information and education dissemination to rural and medically underserved areas.
Application Deadline: Jul 1, 2016 

PeopleForBikes Community Grant Program
The PeopleForBikes Community Grant Program offers funding for important and influential projects that leverage federal funding and build momentum for bicycling in communities across the United States. Grants of up to $10,000 are provided for bicycle infrastructure projects and targeted advocacy initiatives that make it easier and safer for people of all ages and abilities to ride. Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations with a focus on bicycling, active transportation, or community development; city or county agencies or departments; and state or federal agencies working locally.
Letters of interest for the fall 2016 grant cycle will be accepted from June 13 to July 29, 2016; full applications will be due October 7, 2016. 

American Legion Child Welfare Foundation
The mission of the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation is to provide nonprofit organizations with a means to educate the public about the needs of children across the United States. The Foundation supports organizations that contribute to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual welfare of children through the dissemination of information about new and innovative programs designed to benefit youth, or through the dissemination of information already possessed by well-established organizations. Grant requests should have the potential to help American children in a broad geographic area (more than one state).
The application deadline is July 15, 2015. 

Department of Agriculture
The Rural Cooperative Development Grant program provides support to improve the economic condition of rural areas by assisting individuals or entities in the startup, expansion, or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other business entities.
The application deadline is June 20, 2016. 

Faculty Loan Repayment Program (FLRP)
Offers loan repayment to individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who serve as faculty at eligible health professions schools for a minimum of two years.
Application Deadline: Jun 30, 2016 

Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI)
Provides funding to help non-profit housing and community development organizations support housing, community facilities, and community and economic development projects in rural areas.
Application Deadline: Jul 22, 2016 

Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program
Grants to support community-based child health projects that improve the health status of mothers, infants, children, and adolescents by increasing their access to health services.
Application Deadline: Aug 2, 2016 

Pearson Early Career Grant
Encourages early career clinicians to work in an area of critical societal need. Pearson partnered with APF to ensure psychology addresses critical needs in society. One $12,000 grant is available. The program's goals are to support psychology's efforts to improve areas of critical need in society, including but not limited to innovative scientifically based clinical work with serious mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, incarcerated or homeless individuals, children with serious emotional disturbance (SED) and adults with serious mental illness (SMI); and to encourage early career psychologists to devote their careers to under-served populations.  $12,000 to support early career psychologists to work in an area of critical social need.
Deadline: December 31, 2016

Ashoka Changemakers: Children's Wellbeing Initiative
The Children's Wellbeing Initiative is seeking social entrepreneurs who have launched their own original initiatives focusing on children’s issues in education, government, health, family services, and community development.
Deadline: June 22

Cigna Foundation: World of Difference Grants 
The Cigna Foundation is committed to providing opportunities for individuals everywhere to achieve the best possible health. The Foundation’s World of Difference Grants focus on health equity, helping people overcome barriers to their health and well-being related to factors such as ethnicity, race, gender, age, geography, or economics. There are two different types of World of Difference Grants: Community Health Navigation grants support projects within the United States that help individuals understand the particular health equity challenges affecting them, and assist them in finding services in their communities that address those challenges. Workplace Wellness grants support projects outside the United States that help individuals understand their health challenges and learn how to make healthy choices through information and services made available to them where they work.

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Virginia Rural Health Association
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