NRHA Update

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National Rural Health Associations Newsletter.  

In this issue:

Rural primary care physicians more likely to participate in quality improvement 
Rural Health Voices 
A new study in NRHA’s Journal of Rural Health cites a survey of 2,000 rural and urban family practitioners indicating rural primary care physicians are significantly more likely to participate in quality improvement activities. “Rural primary care often faces significant challenges with equal or better patient outcomes. It’s time to start looking at what’s done right in rural,” said Alan Morgan, NRHA CEO. 

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For small hospitals, big decisions can mean life or death 
HealthLeaders Media 
Seeking a strategic path for a health care organization amid historic levels of disruption can be exhilarating, but small systems and standalone hospitals essentially are betting their institutional lives on the changes they’re making. 

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Lucky you: Save $100 on NRHA’s biggest conference 
NRHA’s 37th Annual Rural Health Conference is a sure bet with more than 55 innovative, practical and cost-saving sessions April 22-25David Satcher, M.D., the second person to simultaneously hold the positions of U.S. surgeon general and assistant secretary for health, will headline the Las Vegas event. Save $100 on the nation’s largest gathering of rural health professionals, and come early for the Rural Medical Educators conference April 22Scholarships are available. 

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SPONSORED CONTENT

Faces of the Affordable Care Act: The safety net doctor 
The Wall Street Journal 
Douglas Olson is an internist and chief medical officer at the Norwalk Community Health Center in Norwalk, Conn., which serves as a safety net for many underprivileged and uninsured people in the community. He says the Affordable Care Act will probably mean more of his patients will be insured and more services will be covered. 

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NRHA’s grassroots advocacy call next Wednesday 
NRHA looks forward to giving you the latest from Washington, D.C., in our next grassroots call at11 a.m. CST, Feb. 26. Register today to get updated on issues affecting rural health, including the SGR. NRHA’s government affairs team will discuss funding for rural health programs through federal appropriations, reimbursement issues facing rural health providers as well as the latest news from Capitol Hill. 

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NRHA CEO on why rural needs your voice 
Rural Health Voices 
A unified, authentic rural voice is needed now in Washington, D.C., more than ever before. More than 430 rural advocates were that voice on Capitol Hill recently as part of NRHA’s 25th Policy Institute. It is a powerful message when a rural doctor, a rural nurse and a rural community leader come together to share why rural legislation is necessary for the survival of rural America. 

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New funding to increase access to mental health services under health care law 
The White House Blog 
So far this year, the Administration has taken three key steps as part of its ongoing effort to increase access to mental health services. They will continue to look for steps they can take to help prevent mental health problems and make sure people experiencing mental health problems get the help they need. As the vice president said in December, “The fact that less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need is unacceptable. The president and I have made it a priority to do everything we can to make it easier to access mental health services.” 

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Barriers to healthy country living: Child obesity in rural America, part 2 
Altarum Institute 
In Part 1 of this series, researchers looked at some of the reasons why childhood obesity is more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas. Researchers also explored barriers to combating obesity, including a lack of space for active living and the long distances between the home and opportunities for physical activity and healthy foods. Despite these barriers, in recent years, rural communities and stakeholders have developed promising practices tailored for these areas. 

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Slow EHR, health IT adoption rates may endanger CAHs 
EHR Intelligence 
Small, independent hospitals, especially those located in rural areas, have never had it easy. Tight budgets, scarce resources and an increasingly complex patient population have stretched critical access hospitals to the limit for years. While it may seem counterintuitive to try to break through these barriers by spending money on electronic health records, health information exchange and data analytics technologies, Lorren Pettit, vice president of market research for HIMSS Analytics, worries that CAHs might not be able to hold out on their own for long. 

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HHS releases national vaccine plan 
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released The State of the National Vaccine Plan 2013 annual report, the first of what will be an annual report developed to provide an overview of recent accomplishments and progress that fall under the five goals of the national vaccine plan. The plan aligns with a number of HHS goals and objectives to reduce the occurrence of vaccine preventable diseases by focusing on strategies to improve the quality of all aspects of the immunization system. 

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Must-do task for rural providers: Call Congress 
HealthLeaders Media 
Rural hospitals face a potential double whammy: Not only could they be saddled with paying for the SGR repeal, they also could lose this supplemental money that comes with it. That’s why it is so important for rural providers to take the initiative and contact their elected representatives. “Groups like NRHA do a good job making the case for hospitals. But nothing makes an elected representative take notice like an active electorate,” the article states. 

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Socioeconomic policy is health policy, writes past NRHA president/rural doc 
Rural Assistance Center 
The marked increase in income inequality that people in this country have experienced over the last 35 years is a major factor in our poor health. Unemployment remains high, particularly in rural America, writes Wayne Myers, M.D. Now there’s a lot of controversy about the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and unemployment assistance. The bottom line: social services for low-income people and the unemployed are just as important to health as health care. 

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