Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  August 1, 2016

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

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VRHA News

Poster Presentations

VRHA is now accepting applications for Poster Presentations from health professions students at the conference. A maximum of 15 applications will be approved for display and presentation.

Posters will be on display October 19 with presentations made from 10:45 - 12:00 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.  

All types of health professions students are encouraged to submit applications for consideration.  Posters co-authored by professionals are acceptable as long as the student is the lead author and presenter
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Abingdon, VA  
October 19 & 20, 2016

Click the conference logo for event details including how to submit a poster presentation application.  Membership in VRHA is not required to submit a presentation for consideration.

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Serve on the VRHA Board!

VRHA will be electing new representatives on the Board of Directors at the Annual Conference. Any Organization or Individual member in good standing can serve in this unique opportunity to provide input into the future vision of the Association in this important way.

Are you interested in serving on the VRHA Board of Directors? You can read the board member guidelines, fill out the board application or contact Beth O'Connor

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Members in the News

From the American Psychological Association

For his commitment to providing behavioral health care in underserved rural areas of western Virginia, [VRHA member] James L. Werth Jr., PhD, has been chosen as the 2016 recipient of the Excellence in Rural Psychology Award.
 
“Werth demonstrates a long dedication to addressing the needs of underserved rural populations,” said Iva Greywolf, PhD, chair of the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Rural Health, which established the award last year. “His involvement in supporting the APA Journal of Rural Mental Health® since its inception should be commended, along with the innovative internship model he helped to create between Stone Mountain Health Services and Radford University and East Tennessee State University to benefit rural populations.”
 
The award was established to recognize exemplary work in rural and remote behavioral health care and efforts to keep this field at the forefront of psychological advocacy, research, education and practice.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Merger Monopoly

By Karen Cameron - Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare

The US Department of Justice announced their suit to block the mergers of four large health insurers and Anthem has submitted a response to the suit. You can read the US Department of Justice’s complaint here, and Anthem’s response here.

A number of states have joined in the DOJ’s complaint, including Virginia - Attorney General Mark Herring said in a press announcement that “the proposed mergers of Anthem/Cigna and Aetna/Humana would threaten the cost and quality of healthcare for Virginia seniors and working families.” 

The Virginia State Corporation Commission’s General Counsel issued an economic analysis report this week on the impact on Virginia consumers of the proposed mergers, saying, “the Bureau's position is that Anthem has not made a sufficient showing in favor of the merger. The competitive impact analysis shows a lessening of competition. This finding presumes competitive harm that the detrimental impact analysis - while inconclusive - has not overcome. The burden is to demonstrate - upon a showing of competitive impact - that the lessening of competition as a result of the merger will not harm policyholders or the public in general. The burden has not been satisfied based on the information available and the Bureau recommends at this time that the merger is not in the best interests of policyholders or the public in general.” 

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"Volunterns"

From Remote Area Medical

We have had a program in place since 2014 which allows college students to intern here at RAM headquarters. We call these humanitarian college students Volunterns. They play an important part in to the work we do on a day-to-day basis. Most, if not all, attend our clinics and help any way they can. This year’s interns have been great, and it only seemed right to give them an introduction to the people that care about Remote Area Medical’s mission.

We have people from all over the United States interning with us: New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. The word “intern” means a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, at a trade or occupation in order to gain work experience. Well, this year’s Volunterns have gained quite a bit of experience in non-profit operations, and they are not paid. However, for many of them the knowledge they gain may be worth more than money. Many of them want to work in non-profit organizations when they graduate. There is also something to be said about interacting with people in our country who, while they may have jobs and insurance, are suffering. It’s a very eye-opening experience to meet people who would wait in their cars for two days to get their dental needs met, or to be able to see.

Read the full article.

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National News

Save Rural Hospitals Act

By Erin Mahn Zumbrun - NRHA

The National Rural Health Association applauds the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), which represents 124,900 family physicians and medical students across the country, for supporting the Save Rural Hospitals Act.

In a letter to the bill’s cosponsors, Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA), AAFP acknowledges the unique challenges faced by rural hospitals and recognizes the payment inequities that rural hospitals operate under and believes that they should be abolished.

NRHA urges members of Congress to co-sponsor this important legislation. NRHA also asks the Senate to introduce a companion bill. The Save Rural Hospitals Act will stop the flood of rural hospital closures and provide needed access to care for rural Americans. The bill will stabilize rural hospitals by reversing cuts that are devastating rural hospitals including “bad debt” reimbursement cuts, permanently extending current Low-Volume and Medicare Dependent Hospital payment levels, and eliminating Medicare and Medicaid DSH payment reductions.

Read the full article.

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Prescription for Disaster

By Richard Oswald - Daily Yonder

“We have a big challenge in our state.” That’s the way U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill approached a problem in Missouri that is mirrored throughout the United States.

It’s an election year. Congress took their summer break early so that all the senators and representatives up for reelection could go home to talk about building walls or making America great again. But Claire isn’t up for election this year, so she and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are using the time to talk positively about real problems of rural America that will likely be ignored by mainstream candidates looking to score a few quick points.

In Missouri that problem is compounded by the fact that we are the only state in America that does not have or participate in some sort of monitoring to prevent people from getting access to opioids through multiple doctors and prescriptions. In most states that type of monitoring is mandatory.

Read the full article.

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Active Living

By Zachary Toliver - RHI Hub

Today is the day you finally decide to strap on those running shoes and kick the healthy habits into overdrive. You begin to jog but soon realize there aren’t sidewalks or safe paths outside of traffic. Or perhaps you hope to ride your bike but find that the roads are too narrow to share. Maybe you’re a kid who has never enjoyed traditional activities such as basketball or football, but you have no other options for activities. Feeling defeated, you put off today’s exercise thanks to an environment unfit for fitness.
 
 “Where we live influences how well we live,” stated Katie Wehr, Program Officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). “You might say that our zip code can be more important than our genetic code.”
 
According to Wehr, nearly one in five rural counties are experiencing worsening premature death rates in the past decade. In addition, rural children and adults have significantly higher rates of obesity than their urban counterparts. No single factor is responsible for the significant differences in health between rural and other types of counties, but evidence suggests that differences in environment play a role.

Read the full article.

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Be a Fellow!

NRHA’s Rural Health Fellows complete a yearlong program that develops leaders who can articulate a clear and compelling vision for rural America. Each year, NRHA selects 10 to 15 highly motivated individuals who have proven their dedication to improving the health of rural Americans through their educational or professional experience.

Applications are due Sept. 1 - VRHA is proud to list 4 members as past participants of the program! 

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Take the Challenge!

On July 22, the National Association of Counties (NACo) hosted its annual conference in Long Beach, CA. At the convening, officials from the White House and HHS highlighted the Rural Impact County Challenge (RICC), a call for at least 100 counties to pledge to create opportunity for kids in rural areas, which was announced earlier this year. Representatives from HHS, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Southern Rural Development Center were also present and announced technical assistance available to counties that are part of the RICC, including community health coaches to help counties develop and begin to implement strategies to address rural child poverty. County officials also had an opportunity to share their priorities and help set the agenda for future conversations including peer-to-peer learning, affordable housing, and continued guidance on federal applications.

There is still time to join — counties and local leaders can simply click here.



Mark Your Calendar

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

August 3: Opioid Prescribing: Safe Practice, Changing Lives ​- webinar
August 3: Ongoing Rural Health Clinic Survey Readiness - webinar
August 25: New HCV Testing Policies: Reality for Rural Clinics​ - webinar
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
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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Resources

Virginia Models and Innovations 
These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a source of ideas. 

United Healthcare Community Grants Program
This month’s Grant Guide, featuring more than 50 opportunities from state, federal government and national foundations. United Healthcare’s Creating a Competitive Proposal webinar, is facilitated by grant-writer Allison Rojas, and offered on the second Wednesday of each month. The next webinar will be held on August 10. Register by through their website.

Telemedicine Reimbursement
Review from American Well on the complex issues of telemedicine payment strucutres.


MLN Connects Provider eNews:

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Funding Opportunities



Rural Capacity Building for Community Development
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will make five awards of up to $2.5 million to national organizations with ongoing experience in rural housing and community development. 
Deadline September 13

Community Facilities Relending Program 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development is making funds available to community lending institutions that qualify as eligible lenders through a new program called the Community Facilities Relending Program. Interested organizations should contact their local USDA Rural Development Office today.
The application deadline is August 8, 2016.

Bank of America Charitable Foundation
The Bank of America Charitable Foundation focuses resources on creating neighborhood excellence in the communities throughout the United States where the bank does business. While the priorities of specific company communities drive how funding is used, giving at the local level typically falls into the following four generic categories: Community Development/Neighborhood Preservation, Education and Youth Development, Health and Human Services, and Arts and Culture.

Catholic Health Initiatives Direct Community Investment Program
Applications accepted on an ongoing basis
Provides low-interest loans to organizations or financing intermediaries that give disadvantaged populations access to jobs, housing, education, and health care. 

Commonwealth Fund Health Grants
Applications accepted on an ongoing basis. Supports independent research on health and social issues and makes grants to improve health care practice and policy.

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Virginia Rural Health Association
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Blacksburg, VA 24060
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