Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue March 23, 2015

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities

VCOM-Virginia 2

Newsletter Available




Present at VRHA!

VRHA is now accepting applications for Poster Presentations at the VRHA Annual Conference.

Posters will be on display October 13 with presentations made from 3:30-5:00 that day.  

The Poster Presentations provide participants with the ideal opportunity to disseminate information to other rural health stakeholders. Poster Presentations may include research projects, case studies, clinical evaluations, case presentations, observations, unusual or uncommon situations and other topics as they relate to rural health.  Both students and professionals are encouraged to submit applications for consideration.

New for 2015!  Judging & Awards!

Visit the Conference website and click the "Poster Presentations" tab for full details and the application form.  Submission deadline is August 15, 2015.

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Rural Health Works!

Research shows that community health services provide more than medical care. Rural health providers have a reciprocal effect on the community’s jobs, commerce, and overall economy.

How do you demonstrate that effect?  Through Rural Health Works!
VRHA is partnering with the National Center for Rural Health Works to provide a FREE webinar series on the economic impact of healthcare in rural communities.  Webinar schedule is:

  • March 26:  Impact of a Rural Health Network
  • April 30: Impact of a Community Health Center (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinic
  • May 28: Impact of a Small Rural Hospital

Visit the VRHA webinar page for details and registration.

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Virginia News

ACP Leading the Way


Whether in the classroom or in the lab, students at the Appalachian College of Pharmacy in Buchanan County are being put to the test.  The school opened its doors in 2005 and graduated its first class in 2008. Since then, it has made a name for itself, graduating some of the top pharmacists in Virginia. Nearly 96% of the 2014 graduating class passed a national licensing exam in addition to scoring in the top five of all U-S accelerated three-year Doctor of Pharmacy programs.

Read the full article and watch the video.

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The Cost of Bad Info

By Massey Whorley - Commonwealth Institute

The 2015 General Assembly session may be over, but one big problem remains: lawmakers still refuse to close the health care coverage gap. That refusal has cost the state $1.8 billion in federal money so far and kept 195,000 Virginians from getting the health care they need. And at the heart of the problem lay mistaken notions about Medicaid in Virginia that remain stubbornly persistent in public discourse and serve as baseless excuses for legislators’ refusal to budge.

A favorite smokescreen is the claim that Medicaid needs to be reformed before it can be expanded. However, this claim neglects the fact that recent Medicaid reforms are not only in place in Virginia, but are exceeding expectations. For example, improved oversight is already saving $98.5 million in the behavioral health provider network. And the cost of the state’s private managed care plans have come in $71 million under budget.

The bottom line is despite attacks on an “out of control” system, Medicaid in Virginia actually is running a $312 million surplus. You read that right. 

Read the full article.

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Healthcare and SCOTUS

By Shawn Day - The Virginian-Pilot

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in King v. Burwell, a case that will determine whether people who enrolled in health insurance plans through the federal exchange, rather than a state exchange, can still receive premium assistance tax credits.

In Virginia, where lawmakers refused to create a state exchange, more than 300,000 people have purchased coverage in the federally run exchange, the majority with the help of an income-based tax credit that helps lower the cost of their plan. The credit averages close to $3,000.

Read the full editorial and related commentary in the Charlottesville Weekly, the Daily Press, the Economist, and the Commonwealth Institute.

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National News

#2 at HHS

By Lindsey Corey - National Rural Health Association

The National Rural Health Association is pleased that former NRHA member and longtime rural health advocate Mary Wakefield will serve as acting deputy administrator of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“We are thrilled to see such a strong rural advocate assume a key position within HHS,” said Alan Morgan, NRHA CEO. “Dr. Wakefield is a stalwart champion for rural health within the administration.”

Read the full article and related article from the Hill.

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As the Crow Flies

Veterans and some VA doctors say that the new “choice card” program, meant to reduce long patient wait times, is confusing and causing more stress. The card gives veterans who have been waiting more than 30 days for appointments or who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility the chance to see a private doctor.

But instead, some veterans say that when they attempted to use their card, the VA told them they had to live more than 40 “miles in a straight line, or as the crow flies,” from their VA rather than Google maps miles, which makes the card harder to use.

Another problem that veterans pointed to is that all veterans, whether eligible or not, get the card. Some are showing up in private emergency rooms and try to use the card only to find out it’s not valid.

Read the full article.

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The Struggle without Expansion

By Alex Smith - KCUR

If you’re in the market for fluorescent light bulbs, you might talk to Chris Smiley. In the past few weeks, she’s been trying to sell off what’s left of Sac-Osage Hospital.  The small, 45-year-old hospital shut down, Smiley explains, because of diminishing payments from Medicare as well as a heavy load of uninsured patients.

Such hospitals are often the biggest employers in rural counties. But unless Medicaid eligibility is expanded to include more low-income people, as the Affordable Care Act envisions, officials at those hospitals say they may be forced to cut jobs – or even, like Sac-Osage, to close down.

Read the full article and related stories from MontanaTexasKansas and Nebraska.

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Loan Forgiveness Funding

By Jeremy Olson - Star Tribune

A shortage of rural health care providers, combined with the success of Minnesota’s current loan forgiveness program, is creating momentum at the Legislature for a plan to nearly triple the funding for these incentives — and perhaps extend them to other medical professionals.

Rural Minnesota is expected to face a shortage of at least 800 doctors in the next decade — a result of looming retirements and a lack of interest among medical students to do primary care — when at the same time the aging of its population will increase the need.

The incentives seem to work. Of the 192 doctors who received loan forgiveness in Minnesota since 1991, 75 percent are still in rural areas; among dentists and nurses, more than half stayed in rural practices after their commitments ended.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

March 26: Impact of a Rural Health Network - webinar
March 27: Road to 10: A Small Physician Practice’s Route to ICD-10
March 29-31: Shaping the Future of Healthcare through Innovation and Technology - White Sulphur Springs
April 1: Investing in Community Health Workers - Fredericksburg
April 8-9: Virginia Forum on Youth Tobacco Use - Richmond
April 30: Impact of a Community Health Center (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinic - webinar

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Medicaid Expansion as a Rural Issue
Center for Rural Affairs report examines the consequences rural states’ decisions on the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid.

10 Things Rural Veterans Should Know About the Veterans Choice Act
Guide provided by the VA Office of Rural Health.

CHSI 2015
An interactive web application that produces health profiles for all 3,143 counties in the United States. Each profile includes key indicators of health outcomes, which describe the population health status of a county and factors that have the potential to influence health outcomes, such as health care access and quality, health behaviors, social factors and the physical environment. 

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Funding Opportunities

Rural Interprofessional Health Professions Summer Preceptorships
Application deadline: Mar 31, 2015
Offers a paid, 6-week educational experience for healthcare professions students who want to learn more about healthcare provision in rural settings.

Typical or Troubled? School Mental Health Education Grants
Application deadline: Mar 31, 2015
Provides funding to high schools and middle schools to implement the Typical or Troubled? school mental health educational program.

Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part C Capacity Development Grants
Application deadline: Apr 27, 2015
Provides funding to assist eligible entities to strengthen their organizational infrastructure and to increase their capacity to develop, enhance, or expand access to high quality HIV primary health care services for people in underserved or rural communities.

Accelerating Community-Centered Approaches in Health
Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Supports innovative population health programs and polices that work to improve health at the community level, including the use of new financial models to achieve cost effective solutions.

Developing Healthy Places
Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Funding to improve the places that shape health, including programs that promote healthy housing and neighborhoods.

National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program
Application deadline: May 7, 2015
Provides scholarships for students pursuing primary care health professions training in exchange for a service commitment in a health professional shortage area.

Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP)
Application deadline: May 15, 2015
The goal of the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) is to assist individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to undertake education to enter a health profession.


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Blacksburg, VA 24060

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