August 19, 2015
1. On Tuesday, August 11th, HHS announced $169 million in Affordable Care Act funding for new health center sites across the country, increasing access to primary health care services for more than 1.2 million patients. According to the press release, “what started with one clinic in rural Mississippi and another in South Boston is today a national program that supports 1,300 community-based and patient-directed health centers with 9,000 sites serving nearly 23 million people.” Of the 266 new health centers this funding will help build, 86 will be located in rural areas.
August 7, 2015
1. On Monday, August 3rd the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced $2.7 million awarded for two new rural grant programs:
- The Rural Outreach Benefits Counseling Program is a pilot program awarding each of 10 grantees up to $75,000 a year for three years to increase health insurance outreach and enrollment in rural communities. Each of the grantees will work in a consortium of health care providers and community organizations to educate rural community members on their health insurance options and educate the newly insured on benefits available to them. This program expands on previous FORHP programs that were able to successfully enroll more than 13,000 rural Americans in the last two years.
- The Rural Network Allied Health Training Program, a pilot program developed as part of the Administration’s Job-Driven Training Initiative, awards each of 10 grantees up to $200,000 each a year for three years to support the recruitment, clinical training, and retention of allied health professionals. Emphasis is on integrated rural health networks that can partner with local community colleges and other accredited educational institutions to develop formal clinical training programs. This program builds upon the Rural Health Workforce Development (RHWD) Program which ended in 2013 and had approximately 4,000 program participants complete their rural training. Of these, almost half said they plan on returning to practice in a rural area and a number of them have. Moreover, there was a significant economic impact of $19 million within rural America from FORHP’s $12 million investment through the RHWD Program.
August 5, 2015
Prehospital Emergency Medical Services Personnel in Rural Areas: Results from a Survey in Nine States
This study uses a survey of all ground-based prehospital emergency medical services (EMS) agencies in nine states (AR, FL, KS, MA, MT, NM, OR, SC, WI) to examine supply and demand for emergency response personnel, the involvement of medical directors, and the availability of medical consultation, in rural and urban agencies. Compared with urban EMS agencies, rural agencies had lower staff skill levels, higher reliance on volunteers, higher vacancy ratios, and less access to oversight and skill maintenance through regular interaction with a medical director and online medical consultation during emergency calls. Agencies in isolated small rural areas were the most distinct from other rural and urban agencies, having the most volunteers (both EMS providers and medical directors) and paid staff vacancies.
Davis Patterson, PhD
WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
Additional Resources of Interest:
August 5, 2015
The Rural Assistance Center is a collaborative effort of the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health, and the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI); and is funded by a grant through HRSA’s Office of Rural Health Policy. View the RAC Online newsletter.
August 5, 2015
The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) is pleased to announce awards for two new pilot programs developed in FY 2015.
The Rural Outreach Benefits Counseling (Benefits Counseling) pilot program has awarded 10 grantees up to $75,000 each a year, for 3-years, to work with a consortium of local health care providers and organizations to increase health insurance outreach and enrollment in rural communities. The awardees will focus their efforts on educating the eligible uninsured on insurance options and the newly insured on their health insurance benefits, including how they can start accessing primary and preventive care. This program expands upon previous work implemented by the office around getting rural Americans educated and enrolled into the Marketplace where FORHP grantees were able to successfully enroll over 13,0000 rural Americas over the past two years. For more information about the Benefits Counseling program, please contact Linda Kwon (firstname.lastname@example.org).
August 3, 2015
1. On July 30, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced pre-publication of the Final Rule for 2016 Prospective Payment for Skilled Nursing Facilities. This annual update to the rule increases payments by 1.2% in FY 2016, though both hospital-based and freestanding rural facilities are projected to receive slightly less than their urban counterparts (0.6% vs. 1.4%, respectively). New this year, CMS has implemented requirements for data submission, including staffing information and a Quality Reporting Program (QRP), in which failure to report leads to a reduction of annual payment increases. Also new, CMS has outlined policies and one quality measure for a Skilled Nursing Facility Value-Based Purchasing (SNF VBP) program. Under the SNF VBP, 2% of payments would be redirected to pay higher-performing facilities beginning in 2019; more details are forthcoming in future rulemaking. Official publication is scheduled for August 4.