News Blog
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  • 21 Jan 2018 10:14 PM | Mary Reuter (Administrator)

    Two New Policy Briefs from the National Advisory CommitteeThe 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.  

  • 21 Jan 2018 9:32 PM | Mary Reuter (Administrator)

    Guest Column: Growing Idaho's Physician Workforce

    January 20, 2018 at 5:00 am | Coeur d’Alene Press

    By Rex W. Force |

    Idaho currently ranks 49th for physicians per capita and the strongest predictor of where physicians practice is where they train. Not coincidentally, Idaho also ranks 49th in the number of resident physicians per capita. Physicians are called residents when in specialized training programs (like family medicine, psychiatry, or surgery) after they graduate from medical school but before they begin independent practice. This lack of physicians has health and economic impacts for our state. Simply put, Idaho must train more physicians.

    Last year the governor requested that the State Board of Education develop a plan to grow Idaho’s residency programs. The plan would more than double the number of physicians trained in Idaho each year, adding nearly 2,000 over 10 years. This is especially important because 27 percent of Idaho’s physicians are over the age of 60 and will be retiring soon.

    This plan is now before the Legislature and the state’s commitment represents only about one-third of the costs required to train these new doctors. The remainder of the funds must come from partnering hospitals, the residency programs themselves, clinic revenues, and other sources. The request for next year is $5.2 million, a tiny fraction of the $3.66 billion state budget.

    One might question what the investment in physician training will bring to Idaho. It is important to recognize that physicians are important economic drivers in our communities. The latest data indicate that each physician creates 12 jobs. Pharmacies, home health care companies, nurses, and other health care providers flourish when partnered with a physician. Estimates of the economic impact, when keeping just half of the new doctors in Idaho results in a return on investment of $15.9 for every $1 invested by the state. Idaho’s existing residencies have been successful at keeping greater than 50 percent of their graduates in-state.

    The impact of physicians is even more pronounced in our rural communities. These small towns struggle to attract new businesses if health care is not available. In addition, a lack of access to physician services may force some individuals to move and seek care elsewhere. Substance abuse, obesity, smoking, and many chronic illnesses are more common in rural populations, likely related to lack of access to health care. This translates to increased premature death in our rural communities.

    Idaho ranks among the lowest states for rates of screening for cervical, breast and colon cancer. This is indicative of a lack of access to preventative care. In addition, high rates of care through hospital emergency departments increases costs and decreases the continuity of care, which is important to maintaining good health.

    Finally, Idaho’s suicide rate is currently the 5th highest in the nation and Mental Health America ranks Idaho 47th for the delivery of mental health services, highlighting the need for more psychiatrists in our state.

    The investment in residency programs makes sense for Idaho. Training more doctors will lead to healthier Idahoans, economic benefits to our communities and returns on investment that far outweigh the costs.

  • 16 Oct 2017 3:24 PM | Mary Reuter (Administrator)

    Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program – December 6.  Up to 25 rural public and nonprofit entities forming a consortium of three or more organizations will be awarded total funding of $5 million/year to expand health care services into underserved areas.   This unique program administered by FORHP allows communities to determine their most pressing health need and the best approach for addressing them. Applicants may apply for the traditional Outreach Program track addressing a health need specific to their community, or they may apply to a newly created track,  the Health Improvement Special Project (HISP) focusing on cardiovascular disease risk. HISP applicants will be required to meet certain requisites as outlined in the Notice of Funding Opportunity and, if awarded, will utilize the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Heart Age Calculator to assess cardiovascular disease risk and track the same subset of individuals in their community throughout the 3-year project period. You can learn more about the work of our Outreach Program grantees on the Rural Health Information Hub, which includes videos of current and past work.  FORHP will host a live technical assistance webinar on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 2 p.m. ET to review the NOFO guidance.  For more information, please contact Meriam Mikre at

  • 16 Oct 2017 3:11 PM | Mary Reuter (Administrator)

    The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) is pleased to announce the release of its 2017 Compendium of Rural Oral Health Best Practices.

    Part of the National Rural Oral Health Initiative, a collaboration between the NRHA and the DentaQuest Foundation, the compendium’s specific purpose is to provide leadership with the intent to establish oral health care as part of primary care.

    This initiative is designed to enhance access to quality oral health care, a pressing need in rural communities, and is a crucial step in improving health care access for rural Americans.

  • 19 Aug 2017 9:13 AM | Mary Reuter (Administrator)

    GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health is happy to announce that they have again been chosen as the grantee to lead the Rural Health Research Gateway website.

    The website, funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP), allows users free and timely access to all of the federally-funded Rural Health Research Center’s products. Products include policy briefs, factsheets, chartbooks, and more, all with the end goal of educating and informing health professionals, policy makers, and students.

    At users can:

    • Search for summaries of research projects, both underway and completed.

    • Subscribe to research alerts to receive the latest rural health research in their inboxes.

    • Access information about the Rural Health Research Centers, including contact information and areas of expertise.

    “We have a long history serving as the Rural Health Research Gateway, and we look forward to continuing our work with the Rural Health Research Centers, as well as numerous State and national partners, as we all strive to share rural health research,” said Dr. Shawnda Schroeder, PhD, Gateway’s principal investigator. “Having served as the Rural Health Research Gateway for over a decade, we are excited to continue sharing relevant and timely rural health research with diverse audiences.”

    For more information, like Gateway on Facebook, follow Gateway on Twitter, and subscribe to Gateway’s YouTube channel.

  • 19 Aug 2017 9:03 AM | Mary Reuter (Administrator)

    This Web-based Toolkit contains information and tools to implement state of the art suicide prevention practices and overcome the significant hurdles this life-saving work faces in primary care practices. The Toolkit is a collaborative project of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) and the Western Interstate Commission of Higher Education (WICHE), Mental Health Program. Although the tools are designed with the rural practice in mind, most are quite suitable for use in non-rural settings, as well.

    order a toolkit online now

    Hard copies of the toolkit are available for $25.00 (includes shipping) through WICHE Mental Health Program. A Pocket Guide for Primary Care Professionals is also available for $1 each. It reviews assessment and interventions with potentially suicidal patients and is also included in the toolkit. For more information, please contact

  • 28 Jul 2017 1:41 PM | Mary Reuter (Administrator)

    New Proposals for RHCs and FQHCs on Care Management Services and ACO Assignments Listening Session — August 1

    Tuesday, August 1 from 2 to 3:30 pm ET

    Register for Medicare Learning Network events.

    During this call, CMS experts review proposals for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in the Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule on requirements and payment for Care Management Services, which includes Chronic Care Management (CCM), General Behavioral Health Integration (BHI), and Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model (CoCM) services. Learn about the CMS CCM Campaign and the proposed new process for using RHC and FQHC claims to assign beneficiaries to Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

    A question and answer session follows the presentation. We will open the lines for feedback. Note: feedback received during the listening session will not be considered formal comments on the rule. See the proposed rule for information on submitting these comments by the close of the comment period on September 11, 2017.

    Visit these CMS websites for more information: RHC Center, FQHC Center, and Connected Care: The Chronic Care Management Resource.

    Target Audience: RHCs, FQHCs, and other interested stakeholders

  • 05 Jul 2017 7:28 AM | Mary Reuter (Administrator)

    National Rural Health Association CEO Alan Morgan says the organization will oppose the Senate’s health care bill because the legislation will hurt rural America. “In its current form, this bill is anti-rural,” Morgan says. The Better Care Reconciliation Act contains several provisions that would hit especially hard in rural areas, Morgan says, including deep cuts in Medicaid spending and an end to Medicaid expansion. According to NRHA, the Senate version does nothing to improve insurance marketplaces for rural areas and could make them worse by cutting tax credits for insurance purchases. NRHA implores Congress to act now to protect rural health care across the nation and for its constituents to demand that their representatives make health reform work for rural America.

  • 06 Jun 2017 9:12 PM | Mary Reuter (Administrator)

    Mental health, substance use coverage could roll back to pre-ACA levels if AHCA becomes law

    A new report finds that the American Health Care Act (AHCA) could cause millions of Americans to lose insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorders, and limit “parity” protections that ensure benefit criteria for mental health and substance use disorders cannot be stricter than those for other medical care. Prepared by researchers at the Urban Institute, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the report author concludes that the AHCA could reverse decades-long efforts to reduce inequities in coverage for mental illness and substance use disorders. 

    Congress established parity protections for mental health and substance use disorder benefits in piecemeal fashion. The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008 required parity in large employer-sponsored plans and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) extended those parity protections to certain Medicaid plans and individual and small group health plans.

    Prior to the MHPAEA, nearly two-thirds of people with employer-sponsored insurance had special limits on inpatient behavioral health coverage, and three-quarters had limits on outpatient behavioral health coverage. The ACA then provided coverage and parity protections for mental health and substance use disorder treatment to millions of Americans, many of whom were previously uninsured.

    “The ACA closed a significant coverage gap by extending parity for behavioral health coverage to the individual insurance market,” said Katherine Hempstead, senior adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Proposed reforms threaten access for millions, at a time when the need for substance abuse treatment in particular is critical.”

  • 02 Jun 2017 10:34 AM | Mary Reuter (Administrator)

    Trump FY 2018 budget proposes slashing public health funding, environmental protection and programs for low-income Americans 

    On May 24, President Donald Trump submitted his full FY 2018 budget proposal to Congress. The budget proposes to cut $54 billion in nondefense discretionary funding in FY 2018 and increase defense spending by the same amount. The American Public Health Association (APHA) issued a statement condemning the proposal and urging Congress to reject it. The budget would cut $1.2 billion from the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared to current year funding. The budget contains a host of proposed cuts to CDC programs, including a nearly $25 million cut to the National Center for Environmental Health, including the elimination of the agency’s climate and health program. The budget would also cut more than $220 million from chronic disease programs that seek to prevent heart disease and stroke, diabetes and obesity among other conditions. Other proposed cuts and eliminations include: the elimination of the $51 million Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program, which helps states address serious disparities in infant mortality, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and immunizations; elimination of the $160 million Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant; a $138 million cut to occupational health and safety programs; and a more than $139 million cut to CDC’s public health preparedness and response programs that help state and local health departments prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. You can view the full FY 2018 Congressional Justification for the budget proposal on the CDC website. 

    The proposal outlines massive cuts to Health Resources and Services Administration programs that train and diversify our nation’s health workforce, which are critical for addressing future shortages of health professionals. And as the U.S. population continues to grow and become increasingly diverse, the need for a diverse workforce becomes ever more important. The proposal also cuts about 50 percent of funding for rural health programs designed to support the more than 46 million people living in rural America who struggle with accessing health care. Additionally, the president’s budget proposes to eliminate multiple maternal and child health programs including Autism and Other Developmental Disorders, Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, Emergency Medical Services for Children and a program that supports screening, follow-up and health care services to newborns and children who have or are at risk for heritable disorders. Overall, the proposal would cut $674.5 million from HRSA’s discretionary budget authority. You can view the full FY 2018 Congressional Justification for the budget proposal on the HRSA website. 

    The proposal would also cut an astounding 31 percent from the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency in FY 2018, cut more than 25 percent from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides low-income Americans with assistance to purchase food for their families, and cut more than $610 billion from the Medicaid program over 10 years, on top of the more than $800 million that would be cut from Medicaid under the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. APHA and APHA Affiliate members are encouraged to contact their members of Congress urging them to reject the president’s budget and to instead work in a bipartisan manner to develop spending bills that prioritize public health. 

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