Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue October 20, 2014

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


Newsletter available





USDA Community Facilities Program


At the VRHA Annual Conference, get great information about the program which helps provide low interest loans and small grants to help rural communities fund their essential community needs. Eligible rural nonprofits and communities can finance essential community needs as building or retrofitting a rural hospitals or community owned medical clinics. 

The USDA can finance equipment as well. Grants are limited and the maximum grant award is $50,000. Communities are considered rural if they are 20,000 or less in population and truly rural meaning that they are not contiguous to a metropolitan area.  There are Specialists throughout the state of Virginia that are assigned various counties to assist with loan or grant application origination. Applications can be taken throughout the year. The presentation will go over the basics of the program and let you know how to contact the Specialist assigned to your area. 

Click the conference logo above for more information about the 2014 VRHA Annual Conference.

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Poster Presentations

The applications for the 2014 Poster Presentations have been reviewed and the topics selected for display are:

  • Health Attitudes Predict Breast Cancer Screening in Rural Appalachian Women
  • Community Assessment and Education to Promote Behavioral Health Planning and Evaluation
  • Virginia's Rural Stakeholder Communication Plan
  • Improvements in Heart Disease and Stroke in Southwest Virginia From 1960 - 2012
  • Access to Care Associated with Health in Southwestern Virginia Counties
  • Obesity and Environmental Factors Impacting Health in Virginia's Coal Counties
  • Cancer Risk in Virginia Coal Counties Meeting Healthy People 2020 Objectives
  • Environmental Factors Impacting Diabetes Mellitus in Virginia's Coal and Tobacco Counties
  • Precede-Proceed Health Behavior Theory and Virginia’s Health Disparities
  • Impact of Coal on Indicators of Health in Southwest Virginia
  • National Rural Health Day
  • Rural Hospital Care Transitions improves Patient Satisfaction

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Members in the News

From the Office of the Governor

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia is one of only four states to have been awarded a $9.3 million federal grant to hire more than 100 enrollment assisters who will help state residents sign up on the Federal Marketplace for health insurance starting November 15. The federal grant will play a large role in helping Governor McAuliffe implement his “Healthy Virginia” plan to expand health care to more than 200,000 Virginians. 

The federal grant awarded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services enables Virginia to partner with [VRHA member] Virginia Community Healthcare Association and the Virginia Poverty Law Center and deploy more than 100 paid enrollment assisters across the Commonwealth. 

Read the full press release.

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Virginia News

Hospitals Feel Pinch 

Eight hospitals from Roanoke to Tazewell County will see their Medicare payments docked this fiscal year under a federal program that penalizes hospitals for having too many readmissions of certain patients.

Although the penalties are relatively small — ranging from 0.26 percent of Medicare reimbursements at Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital to 2.85 percent at LewisGale Hospital Alleghany — they have been increasing steadily over the past three years.

The cuts are part of a program, launched in 2012 as part of the Affordable Care Act, that prods health care systems to do a better job of ensuring that the patients they admit for certain kinds of ailments don’t wind up back in the hospital within 30 days.

Read the full article.

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Lee County Moving Forward

By Kylie McGivern - News Channel 11

More than 450 people turned out to a public hearing in Jonesville to push for the reopening of Lee County, Virginia's only hospital.

The hearing brought out people from all walks of life: community leaders, former hospital employees, teachers, patients, doctors, farmers, the list goes on. Notably in attendance, representatives for a U.S. Congressman and two U.S. Senators. State delegate Terry Kilgore also attended, and made his case for the dire need of a hospital reopening. Kilgore introduced legislation that made the Lee County Hospital Authority a reality.

Read the full article and related stories from News Channel 11, WCYB, and WJHL.

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All In for Mental Health

By Prue Salasky - Daily Press

Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), the National Council for Behavioral Health, and the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards (VACSB) formed a joint partnership to help improve the quality of and access to mental health services across the Commonwealth. 

Most noteworthy is that Virginia is now an “all in” state, which means that DBHDS and all of Virginia’s 40 CSBs have access to the National Council for Behavioral Health’s wealth of resources and expertise. 

Read the full article.

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National News


By Erin Mahn - National Rural Health Association

President Obama signed into law the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act). This legislation improves post-acute care for Medicare beneficiaries, and standardizes data for quality, payment and discharge planning for post-acute care providers, including nursing homes and home health agencies.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI). More information on the IMPACT Act can be found here.


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Healthcare's Future

By Tim Size - Daily Yonder

A lot of people write about the future of rural health care. Typically there is no shortage of anxiety on the topic. But there is more to the story. We need to understand that rural can be health care’s future.

I know better than most the list of challenges for rural communities. I don’t deny them, but it pays also to look at what we do well and how rural health care can help lead American health care.

Rural health care is part of the change sweeping across the country. The mandate has rightly become to drive quality of care up and costs down while improving the health of the whole community. Rural is and will be part of that “Triple Aim” movement.

The best of rural health has long focused on places and patients. “Place-based” care means that health organizations consider the values, tradition and economic well being of the community when they make decisions. “Patient-centered” care means that we organize the health-care experience around the needs of the patient as opposed to just the convenience of the provider.

Read the full story.


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Defining Rural

By Krista Holyak - VHA Office of Rural Health 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Veterans Health Administration leads the nation in caring for rural Veterans. In order to do so, VA must know where rural Veterans live to provide adequate access to care. This requires the best possible definition of “rural.”

As such, VA recently changed how it defines urban, rural and highly rural land areas. The Rural-Urban Commuting Areas (RUCA) system replaces the current method, which is based on US Census Bureau criteria.

Read the full article.

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A New Rural Model

By Bob Herman - Modern Healthcare

For people in rural areas, a closed hospital means they have to travel farther, sometimes hours, for care. And that could mean life or death in situations such as cardiac arrest, car accidents, workplace injuries and other emergencies. 

But Georgia—where Republican elected officials have rejected expanding Medicaid, which hospital leaders say would help the finances of rural facilities—has proposed a regulatory change that some observers think could help rural hospitals across the country. In March, Gov. Nathan Deal said financially struggling rural hospitals can offer fewer inpatient services and still keep their hospital licenses. In essence, they can convert into free-standing emergency departments that stabilize and transfer patients to bigger hospitals. Under Deal's proposal, these rural facilities also could offer other basic services such as labor and delivery.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

October 29: Strategic Planning That Leaves You Smiling - webinar
October 29-30: Strengthening Local Food Systems in Appalachia - Abingdon
October 31: A Small Physician Practice’s Route to ICD-10 - Chesapeake
November 5: Transitioning to ICD-10 - webinar
November 14: Virginia Oral Health Summit - Richmond
December 11 & 12: Virginia Rural Health Association Annual Conference - Staunton


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Impact of Insurance Expansion on Hospital Uncompensated Care Costs
This report summarizes research on the effect of the major health insurance coverage expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the drivers of uncompensated care (UCC) and on hospital UCC costs.

Rural Childhood Obesity Prevention Toolkit
New from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rural Childhood Obesity Prevention Toolkit provides comprehensive policy options for healthy eating and active living which rural communities can implement to address this threat to children’s health.
Recommendations are specific to rural settings, but also can be adapted to urban or suburban areas. They are focused on helping rural communities make healthy eating and physical activity the easy and available option for all residents.

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Funding Opportunities

Promise Zone 2nd Competition Launched: Economic Opportunity in High-Poverty Communities
The Administration is launching the competition to designate the next round of Promise Zones, part of the President’s plan to create a new pathway to the middle class by partnering with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, improve educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime. Urban, rural, and tribal communities nationwide will be invited to put forward a plan to partner with local business and community leaders to make evidence-based investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity.

Hearst Foundation Grants
Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
The Hearst Foundations provides funding to support large-scale health initiatives.  

USDA Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) Grants
Deadline:  November 12, 2014
Awards to provide financial and technical assistance to carry out housing, community facilities, and community and economic development projects, including development of health infrastructure. 

CHS Foundation Grants
Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Awards funding for projects and programs related to rural youth leadership, rural cooperative education, community leadership development, and farm and agriculture safety.

Technical Assistance and Training Grant for Rural Waste Systems
Application deadline: Dec 31, 2014
Grants for organizations that assist communities with water or wastewater operations through technical assistance and/or training.

Agricultural Safety Grants
Application deadline: Jan 7, 2015
Awards funding to local- or regional-level agricultural health and safety intervention projects.

System-Level Health Services and Policy Research on Health Disparities (R01)
Letter of Intent (Optional): Dec 20, 2014
Application deadline: Jan 20, 2015
Funds system-level health services and policy research that can contribute to the elimination of health disparities, with an emphasis on research related to minority, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and rural populations.

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Blacksburg, VA 24060

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