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Category Archives: Current Affairs

USDA Helps Farms and Businesses Cut Energy Costs

September 15, 2016

USDA News Release

COLUMBIA, MO, September 15, 2016 – USDA is offering grants and loan guarantees to help rural businesses and agricultural producers reduce their energy costs and consumption. The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  Loans and grants are available to install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.

“REAP is a community and economic development program. Any time a program can reduce costs for producers and businesses, the result is improved community stability and vitality,” said Missouri State Director Janie Dunning. “Through REAP, projects are funded which reduce operating costs for businesses, farmers and ranchers. These projects not only assist community and economic development, but the energy savings and energy advancements extend the life of existing energy resources and contribute to preserving a healthy ecosystem.”

Renewable energy systems include solar, wind, geothermal, anaerobic digesters, and renewable biomass.

Energy efficiency improvements include grain drying and handling, lighting, refrigeration, facility improvements (such as adding insulation or replacing windows), heating and cooling upgrades, motor replacements and automated control upgrades.

Cedar Creek Hardwoods, Inc. (Fredericktown, MO) received a $20,000 grant to upgrade their lighting and HVAC system which will lower their costs by 49%.

SP Aker-Haslag Poultry, LLC (Windsor, MO) received a $14,770 grant to upgrade six poultry barns with retrofits that will lower costs by 23%.

Grants of up to 25% of a project’s total costs are available.

  • The maximum grants are $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements and $500,000 for renewable energy systems

Loans guarantees of up to 75% of a project’s total costs are available.

  • The minimum loan is $5,000
  • The maximum loan is $25 million

For grant requests of $20,000 and less the application deadlines are October 31, 2016 and March 31, 2017. For grant requests greater than $20,000 the application deadline is March 31, 2017. Guaranteed loan applications will be reviewed on a monthly basis.

For information on REAP contact (573) 876-9321 or email

Don’t miss this great opportunity!

President Obama’s historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $212 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

Rural Health Research & Policy Centers

September 15, 2016

View the Research Alert.

Rural Health Information Hub

September 15, 2016

View the Rural Health Information Hub updates

Industry Webinar: ICD-10 Unspecified Codes

September 13, 2016

ICD-10 Unspecified Codes
September 14, 2016  – 12:00 PM ET

Welcome to the Azalea Health Industry Webinar Series, dedicated to helping you successfully navigate the healthcare industry. When ICD-10 codes became mandatory in 2015, physicians were granted amnesty from Medicare and most commercial payers.  This grace period will officially end on October 1, 2016.  After this date, providers will be subjected to post payment reviews and denials if claims are submitted with unspecified codes. This webinar will provide an in-depth look at how the lifting of the grace period will affect your practice and its reimbursement, as well as best practices moving forward.

During this webinar, attendees will learn how to identify unspecified ICD-10 codes currently being used in their software and how to prepare from a billing & coding viewpoint and clinical documentation perspective.

For more information, contact Azalea Health at: or 877-777-7686.

Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

September 13, 2016

What’s New

$63 Million for Enrollment Assistance. With open enrollment for health insurance only a few weeks away, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), announced $63 million in Navigator grant awards to returning and new organizations.  These awards will support local in-person assistance to help consumers understand the coverage options available to them as well as help them pick, apply for, and enroll in a plan of their choice. Consumers can also use the Find Local Help online tool to locate assistance with the Federally-facilitated Marketplace in their area. Navigators also provide outreach and education to raise awareness about the Marketplace, and refer consumers to health insurance ombudsman and consumer assistance programs when necessary. The full list of 2016 Navigator Grant Award recipients can be accessed here.

State of ObesityThe Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which produced the 2016 County Health Rankings earlier this year, has issued its annual report on obesity.  The study breaks down the rates of obesity by state and age-group and concludes that, while growth in the rate of obesity has slowed overall, they are still too high and require a concerted effort to help more Americans reach and maintain a healthy weight.  The report’s policy analysis offers lessons learned and promising approaches from public and private programs to address obesity.  Rural providers and stakeholders can also find resources, including a Rural Obesity Prevention Toolkit, on the Rural Health Information Hub.


Rural Health Research & Policy Centers

September 13, 2016

View the Research Alert.

Apply Now: 2017 NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program

September 13, 2016

One Month Left to Apply!

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Students to Service Loan Repayment Program (S2S LRP) provides up to $120,000 to medical (MD and DO) or dental (DDS or DMD) students in their final year of school in return for a commitment to provide primary health care full time for at least 3 years at an approved NHSC site in a Health Professional Shortage Area of greatest need.

Application Guidance

2017 Application and Program Guidance (PDF – 491 KB) has the detailed information you need to apply. Please read carefully before you start your application.

Accepting applications through October 13, 7:30 p.m. ET


Students to Service loan repayment award recipients receive up to $120,000 (tax free) for at least three years of full-time service at an approved NHSC site in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) of greatest need. Upon completion of residency for medical students (dental residency is encouraged but not required), recipients serve as primary care providers in an NHSC-approved site in a HPSA of greatest need.

Technical Assistance

Access the NHSC S2S Program Application Webinar Recording

Technical Assistance Call & Online Chat

Thursday, September 29 from 7-9 p.m. ET
Number: 1-888-324-4392
Passcode: 1058390

Get Started!

The program is expected to be competitive. Please note that applicants who have federally-serviced loans will need to create a FSA ID before beginning the application process.