Virginia Rural Health Association - Weekly Update
VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  September 28, 2015

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities

Thanks to OMHHE for being a Platinum Sponsor of the VRHA Annual Conference!


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Health Policy and the 2016 General Assembly

This session of the VRHA Conference will discuss role of associations as a voice for health policy in Virginia and policy challenges confronting Virginia’s healthcare system in the 2016 General Assembly session; efforts to strengthen and support rural healthcare providers; and new efforts to build public understanding of challenges facing Virginia’s hospitals.

Sean Connaughton, President - Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association for this unique session!  Click the logo to the right for event details.
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VRHA Annual Conference
October 13 & 14
Staunton, VA

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VRHA in the News

By Virgil Dickson - Modern Healthcare

In the Nov. 3 state legislative elections, Virginia voters will have the opportunity to express their views on Medicaid expansion. Most of the Republican candidates for House of Delegates and Senate seats oppose Governor McAuliffe's expansion proposal, while Democrats support it.

All 140 seats in both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly are up for election. Currently, Republicans control both the House and Senate. Democrats need to pick up only one Senate seat to gain effective control of that chamber, though Medicaid expansion would still face an uphill fight in the House, where the GOP holds a two-thirds majority.  

Making McAuliffe's task even harder is that the Republican primaries eliminated some GOP candidates who might have been open to some form of Medicaid expansion. In the 24th Senate District, Sen. Emmett Hanger, who proposed Medicaid expansion through a private-plan model, had to fight hard to beat back a primary challenge. “Just discussing the possibility of a Medicaid expansion put (him) at risk in the primary,” said Beth O'Connor, executive director of the Virginia Rural Health Association. 

Read the full article.

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Members in the News

By Scott Smith - Allegheny Mountain Radio

There’s no question that the continuing discussions surrounding [VRHA member] Bath County Hospital are an indication of how much the community recognizes what a valuable asset it possesses, and how important it is to retain it. Today’s economic and health care climate often make it difficult for independent hospitals to survive.

To better understand the economic issues that health care institutions can face, we spoke with Alan Morgan, Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Health Association. The NRHA is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to improving health and healthcare in rural communities. Mr. Morgan did not address the Bath County Hospital specifically, but rather the overall picture.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Dismal Performance

By Michael Cassidy - Commonwealth Institute

Virginia turned in a dismal performance on reducing the number of uninsured residents in 2014 because state lawmakers have refused to close the coverage gap and help people who can't otherwise afford health insurance. Meanwhile, neighboring states -- like Kentucky, West Virginia, and Maryland -- are out in front seeing historic gains in coverage that help their residents get the care they need to go to work, take care of their kids, and be healthy, productive members of their community.

Virginia had 107,000 fewer uninsured people in 2014, according to official data on health insurance rates released today by the Census Bureau. That's a small drop -- just 11 percent -- from 2013, and it would have been much larger had the state closed the coverage gap. States that have done so had much higher reductions in the share of people without insurance. Kentucky saw a drop of 41 percent. West Virginia saw a drop of 39 percent. And Maryland saw their uninsured drop rate by 22 percent.

The reason this matters is that insurance -- public or private -- is the first step to getting access to quality, affordable health care. And that level of care can provide much needed economic stability to people working hard to make ends meet.

Read the full article and related commentary from GoDanRiver

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Loan for Lee

By Cassandra Sweetman - WCBY

Two years of hard work is starting to show progress in re-opening an area hospital.  Jill Carson has been following developments with the Lee County Hospital since its 2013 closure. Her family has personally felt its loss.
"We actually waited 45 minutes for an ambulance because there was only one ambulance on duty here in our town, Pennington Gap and it was out transporting someone else, so we had to wait for ambulance service to come from Jonesville to Pennington when that ambulance was available, and then transport him 45 min to Norton," Carson said.
Carson may not have to wait much longer for relief now that the Lee County Hospital Authority is nearly finished with an application for a $10 million dollar loan from the USDA. Authority Vice President Ronnie Montgomery said the money is needed to bring the hospital up to date with federal and state standards.

Read the full article.

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Close to Home

By Jason Bailey - KCEP

New Census data released  showed Kentucky led the nation in its drop in the share of people who are uninsured.  More detailed Census data shows it’s in Appalachian Kentucky where the biggest gains were seen. The state as a whole saw its uninsured rate fall from 14.3 percent in 2013 to 8.5 percent in 2014, a gain of 5.8 percentage points. Among congressional districts, the biggest drop was in eastern Kentucky’s 5th district, where the rate fell 8.7 percentage points — from 17.1 percent in 2013 to 8.4 percent in 2014.

The Medicaid expansion and the creation of the Kynect have hugely benefited the poorest region of the state in terms of access to insurance and the opportunity to improve its health status. Now we must build on that success with stronger efforts to create jobs and raise incomes in the region.

Read the full blog.

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National News

Community Health

Medical care can be as much the hospital coming to you as it is about you coming to the hospital. Rural hospitals are reaching out to their communities to find ways of treating the rural population and as a preventative approach to medicine. 

“We go out on site,” explains Beth Jackson, an RN at Iowa Specialty Hospital in Clarion. Jackson is part of an occupational health program at the hospital and serves as occupational health and cardio-pulmonary leader. She and others involved conduct educational and treatment programs in the community (such as giving flu shots).

The community involvement leads to better health care in a variety of ways, says Teresa Armstrong, an occupational health physician’s assistant. First of all, it brings the health care professionals and the community closer together, breaking down walls and letting them communicate, she says.

Read the full article.

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Dealing with Child Abuse

- Grand Forks Herald

Rural Minnesota counties are struggling to meet new state requirements aimed at quicker response to child abuse allegations. At times, rural law enforcement personnel are called into service at nights and on weekends to screen reported child abuse cases. They often are not trained to do that and may be forced to juggle that with other duties ranging from responding to traffic accidents to investigating crimes.

"A deputy sheriff does not have that full range of resources," Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, said Tuesday after he co-chaired a meeting updating lawmakers on improvements in the Minnesota child protection system.

Read the full article.

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Rural Psych Research

By Annie Zak - Puget Sound Business Journal

In Washington state, a shortage of primary care physicians can make it hard for people in rural areas to get access to health care. Getting treated for mental health disorders is just as difficult. Now, the University of Washington is setting out to study how to best treat people with psychiatric disorders in rural areas.

UW is leading a $11 million study, funded by Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, a nonprofit in Washington D.C., for what the university says is the largest clinical trial ever of rural Americans with psychiatric disorders.   The trial will enroll 1,000 patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or both, from Washington state, Arkansas and Michigan.

The goal of the study is to determine which of two models is better for treating psychiatric patients in areas with a huge lack of mental health resources. More than half of the counties in Washington state have no practicing psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker.

Read the full article.

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CMS to Address Health Equity 

From the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH), unveiled the first CMS plan to address health equity in Medicare. The CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare (CMS Equity Plan for Medicare) is an action-oriented plan that focuses on six priority areas and aims to reduce health disparities in four years.

The Equity Plan focuses on Medicare populations that experience disproportionately high burdens of disease, lower quality of care, and barriers accessing care. These include racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, people with disabilities, and those living in rural areas.

Read the full press release and related article from USA Today.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

September 29-30: Rural Health Clinic Conference - Kansas City, MO
September 30-October 2: Critical Access Hospital Conference - Kansas City, MO
October 13-14: VRHA Annual Conference - Staunton
October 15: REVIVE! Training of Trainers - Staunton
December 3: TCI Policy Summit - Richmond
February 2-4: Rural Health Policy Institute - Washington, DC

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CMS Medicare Learning Network Newsletters:

How ICD-10 Will Affect Your Practice
With ICD-10 less than 30 days away, now is the time to get ready. You can make sure your practice is prepared by following the ABCs of ICD-10.

Veterans Choice Program
Information to help patients understand eligiblility and registration for the Veterans Choice Program.

Rural Hospital Toolkit for Transitioning to Value-Based Systems.
This toolkit captures consultant recommended best practices and strategies from Small Rural Hospital Transitions (SRHT) and Rural Hospital Performance Improvement (RHPI) onsite hospital consultation projects. It also incorporates hospital actions for implementing the best practices and adopting successful strategies. The toolkit is rich with embedded links to resources that will assist your hospital or network to implement best practice recommendations and hospital actions.

Value-Based Care Strategic Planning Tool
Assesses 121 different value-based care capacities in eight categories. After you complete the online VBC Tool, you will receive a Value-Based Care Readiness Report that you may use to assess your organization's readiness for value-based care and to develop value-based care action plans.
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Funding Opportunities

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

Visiting Lectureships Program
Deadline: October 30
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Julius B. Richmond Visiting Lectureships Program provides four awards of up to $3,000 each to fund two-day educational programs focusing on the field of tobacco control and children's health. The lectureships are designed to promote secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure control and to integrate secondhand smoke prevention activities in pediatric education.

Claneil Foundation Special Project Fund
Provides seed funding to emerging nonprofits, or to new projects of established organizations in the areas of education; environment; health and human services; and hunger and nutrition.
Geographic coverage: Available in 13 eastern states and the District of Columbia.
Application Deadline: Dec 1, 2015

Open Meadows Foundation Grants
Grants for projects that are led by and benefit women and girls, particularly those from vulnerable communities.
Geographic coverage: Nationwide
Application Deadline: Feb 15, 2016

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Blacksburg, VA 24060

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