Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  August 15, 2016

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


August newsletter





Plan for Well-Being

Featured speaker at the VRHA conference will be Marissa Levine, MD, Virginia Health Commissioner.

Dr. Levine will describe Virginia’s health status and focus on all the factors that affect health.  In this session, she will outline an approach to population health improvement and introduce the Virginia Plan for Well-Being, a tool to align our efforts for more intentional health improvement.  Dr. Levine seeks to engage the group in further discussion of opportunities to build on efforts already underway in many parts of the Commonwealth with the goal of enhancing opportunity for health and well-being for all people living in rural Virginia.

Click the logo for detailed event information
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October 19 & 20
Abingdon, VA

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Rx Abuse Forums

VRHA in collaboration with One Care of Southwest Virginia is pleased to announce a free CME opportunity for healthcare providers.  The Forum on Prescription Drug Abuse for Healthcare Providers will be offered at four locations around the Commonwealth:

September 10: Lynchburg
September 11: Midlothian
September 24: Abingdon
September 25: Blacksburg

There is no registration fee for this event.  However, attendee space is limited, so early registration is essential.

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Members in the News


A medical center in Nelson County is taking the stress out of the "Back-to-School" hustle and saving parents a few dollars in the process.  In Nelson County, school is back in session starting on Wednesday, and [VRHA member] Blue Ridge Medical center jumped into action to help local families prepare.
Nelson County mom Kate Rutheford said getting her kids ready for the start of school can be a big task.
"This is something that would've taken me, as a mom of four, probably an entire day to get things accomplished," said Rutheford. "To be here and get it all done at one time is a blessing."

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Merger Advice

By Katie Demeria - Richmond Times-Dispatch 

The State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance last week released a long-awaited analysis of the proposed merger between insurers Anthem and Cigna, finding that Anthem’s intended $54 billion acquisition is not in Virginians’ best interests. The analysis, is meant to provide more information to Virginia’s SCC as it considers approving or blocking Anthem’s attempted acquisition.

“The Bureau has determined that the merger will impact competition at both a state and local level in the market for large group comprehensive medical insurance,” the report states. “Despite general claims of benefits and mitigating factors, the Bureau further has determined that this impact raises the potential of harm to policyholders as well as the general public.”

Read the full article.

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Shared Challenges

By Laura Goren - Commonwealth Institute

Too many African-American and immigrant Virginians are locked out of health insurance due to decisions by Virginia’s legislature. Virginia lawmakers have made a number of choices to limit access to health insurance, including in some cases where the federal government would cover all the cost. By not closing the health care coverage gap, policymakers have left 230,000 Virginians without insurance. On top of that, Virginia places additional barriers – above-and-beyond the five-year waiting period that federal law requires – for lawfully present immigrants before they can obtain health insurance through the state’s meager Medicaid.

Virginia could go a long way toward fixing Virginia’s health insurance gaps that hit immigrants, African-Americans, and Latinos by fixing Virginia’s deliberate barriers to health insurance. This should start with closing the coverage gap by expanding Medicaid and, as an important corollary, making sure immigrant Virginians have a decent shot at qualifying for the coverage  by removing the state’s extra barriers on Medicaid access for immigrants that go beyond federal requirements.

Read the full article.

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Close to Home

By Adam Edelen - Lexington Herald Leader

I worked hard as the taxpayer watchdog to root out corruption and inefficiency, to make Kentucky a place where we do big, important things while protecting every tax dollar. I believe that such an approach represents a better way for Kentucky. But now Gov. Matt Bevin wants to add new layers of bureaucracy and mandates to our health system.
His plan would hollow out Medicaid, replacing a simple, streamlined program with a hodgepodge of burdensome policies that restrict people’s ability to access care. It would jeopardize the health of our citizens and cost our state budget millions and our state’s economy billions.
Thanks to Kynect and Medicaid expansion, Kentucky’s uninsured rates have plummeted, and so has wasteful spending on emergency room visits for non-emergency care. It turns out that regular access to care makes a real difference. Fewer people are skipping their meds before payday, and more Kentuckians than ever have access to care that can keep them healthy.

Read the full editorial and related editorial.

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National News

Predicting Closures

By Lindsay Corey - National Rural Health Association

“Predicting Financial Distress and Closure in Rural Hospitals,” a new article in the Journal of Rural Health by George M. Holmes, PhD, Brystana G. Kaufman and George H. Pink, PhD, looks at rural hospitals which have closed since 2010 at an increasing rate. The researchers from the North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center studied the financial performance of closed rural hospitals compared to those which remain open.

The study uses a sequence of financial events associated with risk in order to create an improved predictive model. The authors studied financial and community data for 2,466 rural hospitals from 2010 to 2013 and developed a risk assessment tool specifically for rural hospitals.

Read the full article.

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Expansion Deluge

A network of clinics that serves low-income patients in rural Northern California is finally finding balance after being deluged with newly insured patients under the Affordable Care Act. After a more than two-year moratorium on nearly all new adult patients, the Redding-based Shasta Community Health Center has reopened its doors to some newcomers this month, and it will start accepting more new patients in September.

When Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid, was first expanded under the Affordable Care Act in early 2014, the number of people insured under the program doubled to around 40,000 people in the region served by Shasta Community Health. Not only did the clinics see new patients, but the demand for services soared from existing ones who were newly insured. The clinic network already had a shortage of doctors and nurses. — a problem shared by many other rural health clinics in California.

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Low Data Exchange

By Kyle Murphy - Health IT Interoperability

Compared to larger urban and suburban hospitals, small, rural, and critical access hospitals reported lower rates for sending, receiving, finding, and integrating data electronically, according to new data published by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

For hospitals with all four domains, medium-to-large (34%), non-rural (34%), non-critical (30%) hospitals (34%) outperformed their counterparts by a margin of two to one: small (18%) critical access (17%), and rural (15%) hospitals.

"As hospitals transition to electronic means of sending and receiving summary of care records, they may still have to rely on paper-based methods to exchange information due to their exchange partners’ limited capability to electronically receive information; this was the most common barrier to interoperability reported by hospitals," state Patel et al.

Read the full article.

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Reduced Competition

By Sarah Kliff - Vox

Competition on the Obamacare marketplaces will decline next year. There will be significantly more places in the country where customers have no choice of health insurance because just one company signed up to sell coverage.

This is the conclusion that health policy experts have increasingly gravitated toward in recent months and weeks, as major insurance companies have announced hundreds of millions of dollars in financial losses on the Obamacare marketplaces.

"It seems pretty clear at this point there will be less competition in the marketplaces next year, particularly in rural areas," says Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

August 25: New HCV Testing Policies: Reality for Rural Clinics​ - webinar
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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The Cost to States of Not Expanding Medicaid
States that have expanded Medicaid report net budget savings, furthering the claim that nonexpansion states are losing out on potential economic savings.​

Rural vs Urban Profitability
A new infographic by the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program illustrates that rural hospitals are under greater financial strain than urban hospitals.

Link between Health & Broadband
A new interactive mapping tool from the FCC connects County Health Rankings data to census and broadband data to show how connectivity affects health for every county in the United States.

Medicaid Works in Virginia
Flyer on the benefits of Medicaid expansion

Webinar Recording: Improving Transparency in Auto-HPSA Scoring
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Health Workforce webinar on Improving Transparency in Auto-HPSA Scoring.  Information about the Shortage Designation Project, review process improvements that will go into effect in July 2017, and what to expect leading up to the implementation of the new Auto-HPSA scoring process.

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Funding Opportunities

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

Students to Service Loan Repayment Program 
The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Students to Service Loan Repayment Program (S2S LRP) provides up to $120,000 to medical (MD and DO) or dental (DDS or DMD) students in their final year of school in return for a commitment to provide primary health care full time for at least 3 years at an approved NHSC site in a Health Professional Shortage Area of greatest need.

Community Impact Grants
JRM will award grants of up to $25,000 each to three nonprofit organizations working in any one of three focus areas: health, education/youth services, or housing and food security. Grants may be used for program/project support or general operating support.
Proposals are due by 5pm on August 31, 2016. Notification of awards will be made by December 1, 2016.​

RWJF 2017 Culture of Health Prize 
Each of us has the superhero potential necessary to building a Culture of Health. Is your community harnessing those superhero qualities into powerful partnerships for better health?  If the answer is yes, apply now. Informational webinar September 22 at 3:00–4:00 p.m. ET. 
Deadline: November 03, 2016, 3:00 p.m. ET

MTV Staying Alive Foundation
The mission of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation is to build an empowered and educated generation of young people, equipped with the tools and knowledge to protect themselves and their peers from the HIV epidemic.
Deadline:  August 28

Markets for Good: Good Data Grants
Markets for Good's Good Data Grants are focused on the role of digital data and infrastructure to improve decision-making in philanthropy and in the social sector at large.
Deadline: September 30

AIDS United: Positive Organizing Project
The Positive Organizing Project, administered by AIDS United with funding from Gilead, is designed to revitalize a grassroots organizing movement among people living with HIV and AIDS. The overarching goal of this initiative is to increase grassroots mobilization and engagement among people living with HIV within service delivery systems that directly impact stigma, improve the policy and community environment for inclusive and effective HIV programs, and indirectly improve outcomes along the HIV continuum of care. Grants will range from $10,000 to $20,000. Nonprofit organizations throughout the United States that meet the program’s criteria are eligible to apply. The application deadline is September 1, 2016. 

Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer's Disease Caregiving Legacy Awards
The Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer's Disease Caregiving Legacy Awards, administered by the Family Caregiver Alliance, promote innovation in the field of Alzheimer’s caregiving by recognizing efforts which lead the way in addressing the needs of Alzheimer’s caregivers. Three awards of $20,000 each will be presented to nonprofit organizations, government agencies, or universities in the following categories: The Creative Expression award encourages programs that use novel approaches in supporting family and informal caregivers or persons with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias. The Diverse/Multicultural Communities award recognizes outreach programs to family and informal caregivers of persons with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias in ethnic, rural, religious, low-income, LGBT, and other diverse communities. The Policy and Advocacy award promotes programs that advocate for systems change for the benefit of family and informal caregivers or persons with Alzheimer's disease or related dementias.
Deadline: September 16, 2016.

Finish Line Youth Foundation
The Finish Line Youth Foundation strives to make a difference in the lives of youth in the communities where company employees and customers live by supporting youth development and active lifestyle programs. Programmatic Grants of $1,000 to $5,000 are provided to nonprofit organizations that provide opportunities for youth participation in the following areas: 1) youth athletic programs, with emphasis on community-based programs addressing active lifestyles and team building skills; and 2) established camps that focus on sports and active lifestyles, with emphasis on programs serving disadvantaged and special needs kids. (The Foundation also provides Legacy Grants for facilities improvements and Founder’s Grants for emergency needs.)
Requests are reviewed quarterly; the remaining deadlines for 2016 are September 30 and December 31. 

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Virginia Rural Health Association
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Blacksburg, VA 24060

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