January 18, 2018
Two New Policy Briefs from the National Advisory Committee. The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services is a citizens’ panel of nationally-recognized rural health experts that provides recommendations on rural issues to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services twice each year. The latest policy briefs were written by the committee after a meeting last fall in Boise, Idaho, where the group focused on the impact of suicide in rural America and enhancing the Rural Health Clinics program to adapt to a value-focused health care environment. Also, a new website for the rural health advisory committee provides a look back more than two decades into the past with recommendations for health policy issues such as provider payment reform, workforce development, and telehealth implementation. Beginning in 2003, the committee expanded its focus to include human services and started addressing such issues as homelessness, intimate partner violence and social determinants of health.
CDC Updates Numbers on Opioid Overdose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collected mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System and found that there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016. The age-adjusted rate of death was 21 percent higher than it was just one year before. The highest rates of death were among adults aged 35-44, the age range that also had the greatest percentage increase in overdose death rate, 29 percent higher than in 2015. Last year, the CDC determined that the drug overdose rate in rural areas is higher than in urban areas.
2020 Census Expected to be a Challenge for Rural Areas. Rural areas and particularly minority populations that live in them are typically considered Hard to Count (HTC) for Census data collection every decade. But researchers at the University of New Hampshire Carsey School of Public Policy predict that the 2020 Census will present an even greater challenge for the population count that’s used to determine federal spending, community planning for schools and hospitals and site selection for new business, among other uses for the data. Seventy-nine percent of HTC counties are in rural areas, where counts are typically conducted via mail and door-to-door canvasing. Plans for the 2020 Census call for a majority of residents to receive communication that will urge a response via the internet, for which broadband access adds a special challenge for rural areas.