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Category Archives: Current Affairs

FORHP Award Announcement: Rural Allied Health and Benefits Counseling Awards

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 (


Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

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.


Rural Assistance Center Health & Human Services Update

July 30, 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.

Rural Health Research

July 30, 2015

Research Alert: July 22, 2015
Rural Medicare Advantage Enrollment Update, March 2015

Rural Medicare Advantage (MA) and other prepaid plan enrollment in March 2015 was nearly 2.08 million, or 21.2 percent of all rural Medicare beneficiaries. This one year increase of 6.8 percent in rural MA enrollment is lower than the increase in national MA enrollment (16.7 million enrollees, up 8.6 percent from March 2014).

Contact Information:
Keith J. Mueller, PhD
RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis
Phone: 319.384.3832

Additional Resources of Interest:

Rural Health Research & Policy Centers

July 28, 2015

View the information here.

Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

July 27, 2015


1. A new policy brief from the RUPRI Center for Health Policy Analysis finds that rural enrollment in Medicare Advantage (MA) Plans increased by 6.8 percent between March 2014 and March 2015, more than 21 percent of all rural residents eligible for Medicare.  In addition, enrollment in private fee-for-service (PFFS) plans continued to decline, both nationally (16 percent) and in rural counties (12 percent).  Only eight states showed an increase in PFFS plan enrollment.  Five states experienced decreases of 50 percent or more.  Continued research into rural enrollment in MA and other prepaid plans is important as the effects of the Affordable Care Act and the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 become more clear.


Lactation Support Mini-Grant for Businesses

July 21, 2015

The Missouri Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Program is a state-wide initiative to increase employer support for breastfeeding mothers.  The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is offering up to $500 to a limited number of Missouri employers to create or improve their lactation support policies and programs.

For example, funds may be used on:

  • Locks on doors
  • Privacy screens/partitions
  • Comfortable chair
  • Signs
  • Table or other flat surface to hold a breast pump

To be eligible to receive a mini-grant, the employer must submit their breastfeeding support policy which must be in compliance with the breastfeeding support requirements from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  To apply, complete the attached application and submit by October 1, 2015 to  Please contact 573-522-2820 with any questions.