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

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


Winter Newsletter available





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:

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

Visit the VRHA webinar page for details and registration.

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Members in the News

By Allie Robinson Gibson -

[VRHA member] Smyth County Community Hospital has been ranked No. 18 on The SafeCare Group's 100 SafeCare Hospitals list, officials announced. The SafeCare group studied some 3,500 hospitals for the overall lowest rick of mortality, readmissions, surgery and medical complication rates, infections and patient satisfaction scores, according to a statement from Mountain States Health Alliance, which oversees the Smyth County hospital.

“We pride ourselves on providing the best care and a safe environment for our patients,” said James Tyler, vice president and chief executive officer at the hospital, in the statement. “To be recognized for our achievements in these areas by The SafeCare Group is a testament to the great work our team members do each and every day.”

The recognition comes months after the hospital got high honors from the Centers for Medicare and medicaid Services and Premier, Inc., the statement said.

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More Members in the News

By NBC29

A new study at the University of Virginia is examining the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, and why so many young women are opting out even though the state started mandating it in 2008. Sixth grade girls are supposed to get this vaccine, but with a nationwide average of 38 percent, only 28 percent of the commonwealth's adolescent girls are getting it.

"One of the aspects of our research is looking at messaging; How do we, as providers, have those conversations with our patients?” said [VRHA member] Emma Mitchell, assistant professor at the UVA School of Nursing.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

Holes in the Net

By Healthcare for All Virginians

The Healthcare for All Virginians (HAV) Coalition is deeply disappointed in the members of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees for their refusal to include the federal funding available to provide health insurance to over 400,000 low income Virginians.

The budgets adopted leave gaping holes in Virginia’s safety net. While committee members included some funding for health clinics and the seriously mentally ill, that is a piecemeal approach to an enormous problem.

It’s a sad day when legislators allow a political agenda to trump the urgent needs of Virginia families. The HAV Coalition will continue to advocate for action until this coverage is a reality for low-income Virginians.

Read the full statement  and a budget analysis from the Commonwealth Institute.

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There's More

By Massey Whorley - Commonwealth Institute

Nearly 385,000 Virginians signed up for private health insurance this year through the marketplace, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. That’s 168,000 more than last year, exceeding the goal set by Governor McAuliffe before enrollment opened up last fall.

Why the jump? When Virginia lawmakers declined to establish a state-run insurance marketplace, they relied instead on the federal government. As a result of this choice, the state was unable to get federal funding to pay for consumer assistance, leaving many Virginians unaware of their coverage options and with very few ways to get in-person help.  This changed in September 2014, when Governor McAuliffe released his Healthy Virginia plan. It allowed Virginia to tap $13.6 million in federal grants to hire 21 outreach specialists to promote the marketplace and 118 in-person assisters to help consumers enroll. Clearly that investment has paid off.

There is another part of national health reform that would have huge benefits for Virginia if lawmakers would agree to close the coverage gap, like 28 other states and Washington, D.C., have. 

Read the full article and related story from the Public News Service.

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Bright Spots

By the Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky are working together on a new three-year "bright spots" health research project to learn about factors that support a culture of health in Appalachian communities and to determine if that knowledge can be translated into actions that address health disparities between Appalachia and the nation as a whole. The project, "Creating a Culture of Health in Appalachia: Disparities and Bright Spots," will run through the end of 2017.

The project will identify Appalachian areas, or "bright spots," where health outcomes are better than would be expected based on unemployment and poverty rates and other community factors. Experts will then seek to determine the factors that help cause health outcomes in specific communities to be better than expected. The project will also seek to determine why health outcomes in some communities are not as good as would be expected, based on a series of community data points.

Read the full article.

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National News

LVH and MDH Legislation

By Diane Calmus - National Rural Health Association

The National Rural Health Association applauds the introduction of the bipartisan Rural Hospital Access Act (H.R. 663) introduced by Reps. Tom Reed and Peter Welch and its companion Senate bill S.332 introduced by Sens. Grassley and Schumer.  The bill will make permanent two crucial rural hospital payments, the Medicare-dependent hospital program and low-volume hospital adjustment.

These two programs are essential for many small rural providers operating on razor-thin margins and are an important part of ensuring rural facilities can remain open and able to see the many Medicaid and Medicare patients they serve.

These programs were created to ensure rural hospitals can continue to provide much needed services in their community. Since rural residents are more likely to be older, poorer and sicker than their urban counterparts, these programs were created to ensure Medicare payments better reflect the actual costs of providing care in rural areas.

Currently, NRHA along with rural hospitals and other advocates must appeal annually to Congress to ensure the programs continue each year. These important bills will provide hospitals, and the communities they serve, the ability to better plan for the future by making these important programs permanent. NRHA encourages members of Congress to cosponsor these important bills and encourages Congress to act quickly to make these important programs permanent.


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Losing Rural Hospitals

By Misty Williams - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Pam Renshaw doesn’t know how long she lay unconscious amid the flames.  Twenty seconds? Thirty? Long enough, at least, for the fire to sear nearly half of her body before Renshaw’s boyfriend found her pinned under the four-wheeler that had flipped into a pile of burning trash. Billy Chavis lifted Renshaw into his truck and floored it toward downtown Folkston.

But he wasn’t headed to Charlton Memorial Hospital in Folkston. There is no Charlton Memorial. It had closed 45 days before Renshaw’s accident.

Seven other rural hospitals have closed since 2001, and dozens more are hemorrhaging money at an alarming rate — ultimately threatening access to critical health care for nearly 1 in 10 Georgians.

Read the full article.

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Missing the Network

By Mark Guydish - Civitas Media

Less obvious forces are driving rural costs up. National Rural Health Association Senior Vice President for Membership Services Brock Slabach notes an often overlooked factor: Rural areas get shortchanged in “social services that are part of a network of care you take for granted in urban communities.”
Such care can include everything from a prenatal support group for expectant mothers to meal delivery for housebound elderly.
The lack of social services bodes ill for rural hospitals as the “Hospital Re-admissions Reduction Rate” program created by the Affordable Care Act kicks in. The program punishes hospitals that have high readmission rates by reducing Medicare reimbursement, and Slabach said more than 2,000 hospitals are expected to take a hit in 2015.

Read the full article.

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Reversing the Decline

By Nathan T. Washburn and Karen A. Brown - Harvard Business Review

There are two kinds of health-care innovation: more-for-more and more-for-less. The American health-care system exemplifies the first kind, offering more and more value at higher and higher costs. If you have the money and can travel, the U.S. is the place to take advantage of the latest innovations such as proton-beam cancer-radiation therapy, for which the equipment and facilities cost about $1 billion.

There are, however, isolated pockets of extreme need in rural U.S. communities, where conditions are ripe for more-for-less innovation. These communities are facing a health-care crisis because economic and regulatory pressures are pushing providers to cluster in urban centers. The consequences are dire. Last year, 13 rural hospitals closed, and a tidal wave of closures is expected over the next few years. These hospitals are caught in a vicious cycle: Rural patients with serious health problems are traveling to cities to seek care from medical specialists, causing revenue declines at rural hospitals and clinics, which respond by downsizing and offering fewer services, causing more patients to seek care in major urban centers.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

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

February 26: Impact of a Small Rural Hospital or Critical Access Hospital - webinar
March 26: Impact of a Rural Health Network - webinar
March 29-31: Shaping the Future of Healthcare through Innovation and Technology - White Sulphur Springs
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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Dental Benefits
Fact sheet from DMAS and DentaQuest regarding the dental benefits for pregnant women that will begin on March 1. 

Critical Access Hospital Finance 101 Manual
Author: National Rural Health Resource Center
Updated with 2012 US Median financial data. Includes top 10 financial indicators for critical access hospitals.

Road to 10
CMS has created "Road to 10,"an online resource, to help you jump start the transition to ICD-10. Built with the help of small practice physicians, "Road to 10" is a no-cost tool that will help you:

  • Get an overview of ICD-10 by accessing the links on the home pg.
  • Explore Specialty References by selecting a specialty below
  • Click the "Build Your Action Plan" box to create your personal action plan

Quality Improvement Toolkit for Emergency Department Transfer Communication Measures
This toolkit contains recommendations and principles of care transitions from the emergency department, instructions on developing and implementing an action plan, as well as sample checklists, logs and transfer forms.

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Funding Opportunities

Virginia Community Foundation
Funding for projects that will have a positive impact on the community's quality of life.

Rural Outreach Benefits Counseling
Closing Date for Applications:Mar 30, 2015   
The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) is pleased to announce the release of the Rural Outreach Benefits Counseling Program (Benefits Counseling), a new one-time funding opportunity. FORHP is committed to increasing health insurance coverage for all of rural America and is providing funding for this new community-based pilot program. The Benefits Counseling Program is targeted to improve outreach and service delivery in local and regional rural communities. The purpose of the three-year program is to expand health insurance outreach, education and enrollment efforts to eligible uninsured and newly insured individuals and families in rural communities. FORHP plans to award up to 10 new awards for $75,000 per year.  

Gertrude M. Condruff Foundation 
Funding to organizations that promote independent living for elderly and those with special needs.
Hearst Foundation Culture Grants  
Funding to support cultural institutions that offer meaningful programs in the arts and sciences.
Marietta McNeill Morgan & Samuel Tate Morgan, Jr. Trust  
Funding to support and promote quality educational and human services programming.

Newman's Own Awards Program  
The purpose of the Newman's Own Awards Program is to recognize volunteer and nonprofit organizations supporting our nation's military families. Eligible applicants must be comprised primarily of volunteers or be a nonprofit organization, and be working with the families of Active Duty, National Guard, or Reserve units and/or veterans. Applying organizations will be evaluated on their innovative plans for improving the quality of life for members of the military and their families. Grants of up to $50,000 are provided. The application deadline for 2015 is April 29.

Anthem Foundation
The Anthem Foundation supports the company's commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem serves in 24 states [including Virginia]. The Foundation seeks to promote healthy behaviors, health-risk prevention, and healthy environments by supporting public health-related issues that impact key health conditions and systems. The focus is on organizations that address the following five areas: cardiac mortality, cancer prevention and smoking cessation, maternal and newborn health, diabetes prevention and management, and childhood and elderly obesity. Nonprofit organizations that serve company communities are eligible to apply. The application deadlines for 2015 are March 6 and August 28.

Grants to States to Support Oral Health Workforce Activities
Application deadline: Mar 16, 2015
Offers funding to states to develop and implement programs that address the dental workforce needs of designated dental health professional shortage areas.

Rural Health Value Program
Application deadline: Mar 23, 2015
Offers funding to establish and operate the Rural Health Value Program, which will inform rural healthcare providers and stakeholders about set policies impacting healthcare providers and the impacts of healthcare system delivery changes. The awardee will also offer technical assistance to rural providers seeking new approaches to healthcare delivery in their communities.

The Dammann Fund
Funding to organizations who focus on mental health or teen parenthood.    


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Blacksburg, VA 24060

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