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Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

June 2, 2015

HOT OFF THE PRESSES

1. On May 26, 2015, CMS released the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Managed Care proposed regulation.  This proposed rule modernizes Medicaid managed care regulations that have not been revised since 2002.  The rule seeks to strengthen actuarial soundness and align the requirements with other major sources of health insurance coverage, such as with Medicare and the Health Insurance Marketplace. The proposed rule also changes the definition of rural currently used by the Medicaid program to that used by the Medicare Advantage program.  This is important because, in those areas deemed rural, if there is only one managed care plan offered, the state must either seek a waiver with certain requirements (such as provider choice) or allow fee for service payments outside of the managed care plan.  Even under a waiver, the enrollee must have access to providers outside the plan’s network if the plan does not have the right provider in-network.

2. Feedback from rural stakeholders is essential to understanding the role small providers can play in delivery system reform and demonstrating value. Your comments are requested on the HHS funded, consensus-based committee work on Performance Measurement for Low-Volume Providers, led by the National Quality Forum (NQF). The draft report will be available for 30 days beginning June 1, 2015, at http://www.qualityforum.org/Rural_Health.aspx. If you are interested in learning more about the NQF consensus process and the NQF commenting process, FORHP is hosting a webinar with representatives from NQF on Friday, June 5, 2:00pm EDT. It will be about 20 minutes of discussion from NQF and time for Q&A. We’ll send a link to the recorded session in future announcements. To join, go to https://hrsa.connectsolutions.com/low-volume_measures/ with call in number 888-790-3523 and passcode: 3010058

RURAL RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

3. New research from the University of California, Davis found a $1.96 return on investment for each dollar spent on telemedicine in rural emergency departments.   The study focused on pediatric asthma, bronchiolitis, dehydration, fever and pneumonia and saw that telemedicine consultations resulted in 31 percent fewer patient transfers compared with telephone consultations and a cost reduction of $4,662 per child per year.

 WEBINARS, EVENTS AND OTHER TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

4. The Health Resources and Services Administration will host a webcast on Monday, June 1st  from 3:00-4:00 PM EDT to help its grantees learn more about the Veterans Choice Program.  Since November of last year, this program created by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has allowed veterans to receive care from non-VA providers.  Representatives from any organization that may serve veterans are encouraged to attend and learn more about the scope of the program and requirements for participation. An audio recording will also be made available. Advanced registration is not required for this webcast.  To access the webcast go to http://services.choruscall.com/links/hrsa150601.html.  For questions about the webcast, email Hannah Eichner at heichner@hrsa.gov .

5. The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) will be hosting a Summit on Transforming Veteran’s Care: Patient Engagement and Care Coordination on June 9-10 in Washington, DC.  A collaboration between ONC and the Veterans Administration, the event pushes forward efforts initiated under the White House Rural Council to improve veterans care through health IT.  The first day of the summit will focus on priority areas for veteran’s care. The second day will be a training day focused on the day-to-day operations of the Veteran Initiated Electronic Care Coordination project.  To register and receive a detailed agenda, please contact Leila Samy at Leila.Samy@HHS.Gov.

6. FORHP’s Rural Health Value program will hold a webinar on Monday June 22nd at 2:00pm EDT to talk about the newly developed Rural Taxonomy of Population and Health-Resource Characteristics.  This tool can help identify similar rural places (in terms of demographics, socioeconomics, and availability of health care resources) across the United States so that these communities can learn from one another to develop strategies, adopt innovations, form learning collaboratives, and more.  This webinar will briefly explain how the tool was developed and show participants how the tool can be used by policy makers and rural communities.    No registration is required.  To join, go to https://hrsa.connectsolutions.com/rural_taxonomy/, using dial-In #888-950-9404 and participant Code 4550932.

7. The Health Resources and Services Administration will join with the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to host a public meeting July 1-2 to discuss increasing the use of naloxone to reduce incidence of opioid overdose. Key academic experts, government officials, industry representatives, and patient advocates will meet to develop collective strategies to encourage naloxone use. If you wish to attend the meeting, please email your registration to NaloxoneWorkshop@fda.hhs.gov by June 22, 2015. For more information on the meeting, please see the Federal Register Notice.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

8. On Monday, May 22, USDA began accepting applications for its Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants, a program that “provides increased access to education, training and health care resources in rural areas.  The deadline to apply is July 6th. To get more information on requirements and detailed guidance on submitting a successful application, attend one of two webinars hosted by the Rural Utilities Service on June 4th and June 10th.

To see all funding opportunities available from FORHP, return often to http://www.hrsa.gov/ruralhealth/index.html

OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

9. As noted in previous announcements, comments on the CMS Meaningful Use Stage 3 NPRM and ONC EHR Technology Certified to 2015 Edition NPRM are due Friday May 29th at 5 PM. Both proposed rules focus on the interoperability of data across systems and make key changes to the EHR Incentive Program.

10. In addition, comments for the Modification to Meaningful Use in 2015-2017 NPRM are due June 15. That rule proposes revised requirements for eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals participating in the EHR Incentive Programs in years 2015 through 2017.

11. The Broadband Opportunity Council, established by the President in March 2015, issued a Notice and Request for Comments for all interested parties to share their perspectives and recommend actions the Federal Government can take to promote the deployment, adoption and competition for the use of broadband technology. Written comments are due on or before 5PM Eastern Time on June 10, 2015.

12. The next meeting of the Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment (HOP Panel) will be August 24-25. Comments and presentations are due July 24. Those who wish to attend the meeting in person must register after June 29 and before July 31, or anyone may participate via webcast, which does not require registration. See the Federal Register Notice of the meeting for full details. The meeting agenda has not yet been published. As background, CMS permits hospitals to request supervision level changes for outpatient therapeutic services through the HOP Panel process. The Panel makes recommendations to CMS about the appropriate supervision level (General, Extended Duration, or Direct) for outpatient therapeutic services presented for consideration.

13. Click here for the latest issue of MLN Connects, a weekly newsletter that gives provider news and updates that may affect how rural providers are impacted by CMS rollouts. Previous issues and a link to subscribe to MLN Connects are available in the archive.

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