VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue April 7-13, 2014

Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


Virginia Health Care Foundation

Spring Newsletter




New Officers

Last weekend's board retreat included the election of new VRHA Officers:

- Mary Crandall, President

- Suzanne Lo, Vice President

- Chuck Carr, Treasurer

- Susan Meacham, Secretary

Congratulations to our new leaders! Much thanks to outgoing officers, Derek Burton, Kirk Ballin, & Brenda Hart.

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Student Members in the News

Please join us in congratulating the team of [VRHA member] Hussein Al-Mohamad, Ryan Anderson, Rohini Manaktala, and [VRHA member] Logan Rhea who won the 2014 Medical Jeopardy Tournament at the Virginia ACP (American College of Physicians) annual meeting in Richmond! The ACP is the second largest physician organization in the country and the premier Internal Medicine group with one of its strongest chapters in Virginia. 

The team from the Edward Via College of Osteopathmic Medicine competed against other medical student teams from around the state including UVA, MCV, and Carilion.  By the end of the second round they had already secured the win but still went on to answer the final jeopardy question correctly.   

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Members in the News

By Lindsey Ward - WSLS10

The American Red Cross and WSLS 10 team up once again for celebration of heroes. We bring you [VRHA member] Bill Jacobsen's story, a hospital administrator at Franklin Memorial who is this year's Medical Hero.

When Jacobsen moved here nearly eight years ago to take over as Vice President of Carilion Clinic and lead Franklin Memorial Hospital in Rocky Mount, work to increase access to urgent care and decrease emergency room visits had already begun.

Read the full article.

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Virginia News

More on Covering the Gap

The issue of covering the gap for the uninsured continues to be a hot topic. Here are a few samples of recent media headlines.

- Bipartisan Support for Closing the Coverage Gap (The Office of the Governor)

- Representatives Urge the General Assembly to Close the Coverage Gap (The Office of the Governor)

- Hiding in Plain Sight (Roanoke Times editorial board)

- Lawmakers stick to budget rhetoric (Roanoke Times)

- The security of access to care (Roanoke Times)

- I am the coverage gap (Healthcare for All Virginians)

Also note the list of scheduled town hall meetings. VRHA encourages you to attend meetings in your district and speak out in support of closing the coverage gap. Click here to review talking points.

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Mental Health Initiatives

By Gnomes National News Service

To address the shortage of mental health professionals in Virginia, the Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) has launched two initiatives: A scholarship program to increase the number of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners and a Continuing Medical Education Webinar for physicians and nurse practitioners who want to further develop their knowledge about prescribing behavioral health medicines.

Read the full article.

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Education Collaboration

By Gene Marrano - Roanoke Star

The Jefferson College of Health Sciences and Virginia Western Community College further cemented their long-standing relationship by signing another series of articulation agreements recently. The agreements mean that students in good standing who graduate from VWCC’s two-year programs in respiratory therapy, health & exercise science and health psychology can transition into JCHS bachelor’s level programs without a problem.

That makes around a dozen health care tracts for which the two schools have signed articulation agreements. New River Valley Community College also signed off on articulation agreements with Jefferson College at the same time. JCHS president Dr. N.L. Bishop said the school’s leadership team – the department chairs – and the Deans “work closely with…Virginia Western Community College…in looking at what is projected to be the needs [of the marketplace].”

Read the full article and related report by WDBJ7.

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National News

SGR Patch

By David Lee - National Rural Health Association

The President has signed a 12 month delay of cuts scheduled to take affect under the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate.  In addition to the delay of these cuts, the bill extends the Medicare Dependent Hospital Program, Low-Volume Hospital adjustment, current rural and “super-rural” ambulance payment rates, and the rural “work floor” in the geographic practice cost index.  NRHA is appreciative of efforts made to extend these programs permanently in the Senate as well as the one year extension of the programs.

The bill has also delayed ICD-10 implementation until October 1, 2015. 

NRHA also sought to include regulatory relief as part of this bill, including addressing issues with the 96-hour condition of payment rule currently experienced by Critical Access Hospitals as well as mandating that supervision levels for outpatient therapy services be reverted to a level of “general”. While these issues were not included in the package passed today, NRHA will continue to advance these efforts through NRHA-supported legislation that has already been introduced in both the House and Senate.

National Rural Health Association

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Hospitals on Life Support

By John Buntin - Governing

Like most rural hospitals, Bryan Whitfield is in many ways a creature of government. Built with the help of federal funds under the Hill-Burton Act of 1948, the hospital is organized under Alabama state law as an independent health authority. The city of Demopolis appoints five of the hospital board’s nine members and, under the terms of a court settlement, appropriates $125,000 a year to provide indigent care to town residents. Marengo County, in which the hospital is situated, pays an even larger sum—$360,000 a year—under the terms of the same settlement. By far the biggest contributors to the hospital’s bottom line, though, are Medicare and Medicaid. Roughly 75 percent of the hospital’s $73 million-plus budget comes from those programs, a significantly higher percentage than the average hospital.

In rural Alabama, $73 million is a large number. Even so, Bryan Whitfield’s profit margins are razor thin—and recently got thinner. About two years ago, the federal recovery audit program found that the hospital had improperly billed Medicare; the federal government demanded that the hospital repay $1.3 million immediately. That presented hospital administrator Mike Marshall with tough choices. In December, he announced that the board had voted to lay off 40 employees and shut down the hospital’s labor and delivery unit, which delivered 231 babies last year, but which did not collect enough revenue to cover its costs. If the labor and delivery unit shuts down, the residents of Demopolis and the areas that surround it, like Forkland, will be forced to drive to Tuscaloosa, Selma or Meridian, Miss., to receive prenatal care and to give birth.

Read the full article and a similar article about hospitals in South Carolina.

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Confronting Higher Costs

By Kristen Wyatt - Associated Press

Bill Fales wanted a new baler and a better irrigation system for the 700-acre ranch where he raises grass-fed beef cattle, but he scrapped those plans when he saw his new health insurance premiums. His Cold Mountain Ranch is in western Colorado's Rocky Mountains, a rural area where outpatient services are twice as expensive as the state average. Fales recently saw his monthly premiums jump 50 percent, to about $1,800 a month.

Health care has always been more expensive in far-flung communities, where actuarial insurance data show fewer doctors, specialists and hospitals, as well as older residents in need of more health care services. But the rural-urban cost divide has been exacerbated by the Affordable Care Act.

Read the full article.

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Online Nurse Residency

By the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Nurse residency programs have been touted as a way to reduce turnover among new graduate nurses. But many health care facilities, especially smaller ones in rural areas, cannot afford to launch costly programs to help new nurses transition into clinical practice.

A nursing task force in Iowa, comprised of nurse leaders in acute care, long-term care, and education, as well as new nurse graduates and student nurses, has developed an innovative solution: an online nurse residency program that all health care facilities in the state—and potentially across the country—can use for a modest fee.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

For more information about these and other events, visit the VRHA Calendar.

April 22: NRHA's Rural Medical Educator's conference - Las Vegas, NV
April 22-25: NRHA's Annual Conference - Las Vegas, NV
April 22-24: National Rx Drug Abuse Summit - Atlanta, GA
May 7: Improving Health Care for Veterans Begins With You - webinar
May 12-16: Behavioral Health and Integration Training Institute - Radford
May 21: Project REVIVE! - webinar

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County Health Rankings & Roadmaps
The County Health Rankings show how we're doing and where we can improve on health. The Roadmaps show what we can do to create healthier places to live, learn, work and play.

New Tools to Support Implementation of the Updated Competitive Foods Standards 
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation launched a Smart Snacks Product Calculator that can help determine whether snacks, sides, or entrée items meet the new USDA Smart Snacks in School Guidelines. The Alliance also released a Step-by-Step Guide for Implementing Smart Snacks, as well as a product navigator that allows users to browse products that meet the new guidelines.

Project ACTION
Easter Seals Project ACTION collaborates and partners with transportation and disability organizations within the community around accessible transportation. These partnerships have supported the development of resources, publications, training events, technical assistance activities, and other important programs and activities. Easter Seals Project ACTION connects with professionals from the transportation and disability communities, as well as others interested in the topics of accessible transportation through social media, including a blog, Twitter, online communities and online dialogues.

An interactive web-based mapping tool that allows health professionals, policy makers and researchers to combine, analyze and display information in ways that promote better understanding of health and healthcare issues. Free registration required to use the tool.

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Funding Opportunities

School Grants for Healthy Kids

Through partners CSX Transportation, Kellogg Company, and the Kellogg’s Corporate Citizenship Fund, (and more!) Action for Healthy Kids is pleased to release its School Grants for Healthy Kids opportunities for the 2014-2015 school year.  Around 1,000 schools will be awarded funds ranging from $500 to $5,000 to support school breakfast and physical activity programs. Funded schools will also receive expertise and people power to help implement a successful project that leads to sustainable change. Award amounts will be based on building enrollment, project type, potential impact, and a school’s ability to mobilize parents and students around school wellness initiatives. 

VBCF Mini-Grants
Deadline: April 14
The Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation is offering mini-grants of up to $1000 to non-profit organizations.  The purpose of this grant program is to provide funds for breast cancer health education for Virginians. Priority will be given to projects in areas of the state with breast cancer incidence or mortality rates higher than the state average and/or to projects serving low-income, un- or underinsured, medically underserved, or other marginalized populations in need of targeted, customized breast cancer educational approaches.The Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation is offering mini-grants of up to $1000 to non-profit organizations.  The purpose of this grant program is to provide funds for breast cancer health education for Virginians. Priority will be given to projects in areas of the state with breast cancer incidence or mortality rates higher than the state average and/or to projects serving low-income, un- or underinsured, medically underserved, or other marginalized populations in need of targeted, customized breast cancer educational approaches.

Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation Grants
Deadline: Ongoing
The Foundation has two distinct grant programs, awarding Board Grants and discretionary President's Grants. The Foundation also supports educational innovators in medicine and nursing through its Macy Faculty Scholars program.

Reducing Health Care Disparities Through Payment and Delivery System Reform
Application deadline: Apr 18, 2014
Funds up to three awards for paired healthcare payment and delivery system changes that incorporate a focus on reducing disparities in care and/or outcomes, and the collection of evaluation data.

TIGER Discretionary Grants
Application deadline: Apr 28, 2014
Awards grants for transportation projects that better connect communities to centers of employment, education, and services and that hold promise to stimulate long-term job growth, especially in economically distressed areas. Applications may included linkages between transportation improvements, including walking and bike trails, and overall community wellness, health, and livability.
Sponsor: U.S. Department of Transportation

Public Access to Defibrillation Demonstration Projects
Application deadline: Apr 30, 2014
Funding to develop and implement innovative, comprehensive, community-based public access defibrillation demonstration projects.
Sponsor: Office of Rural Health Policy

Rural Access to Emergency Devices Grant Program (RAED)
Application deadline: Apr 30, 2014
Offers grants to rural community organizations for the purchase, placement, and training in the use of automated external defibrillators.
Sponsor: Office of Rural Health Policy

Advancing Social Sciences-Based Research on Food Assistance and Nutrition Challenges in Rural America
Application deadline: May 8, 2014
Funding for social sciences-based research that explores the food and nutrition assistance challenges of residents (or their communities) in rural America.
Sponsor: RIDGE Center for Targeted Studies

Grants for Transportation of Veterans in Highly Rural Areas
Application deadline: May 27, 2014 (deadline extended)
Awards grants to organizations that assist veterans in rural areas with transportation to VA medical centers and other VA and non-VA facilities for medical care.
Sponsor: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Avon Breast Cancer Safety Net Program
Letter of Intent (Required): Jul 18, 2014
Application deadline: Sep 5, 2014
Funding for patient navigation programs, equipment, and infrastructure/staffing needs for safety net clinics that provide breast cancer screening services for medically underserved populations.
Sponsor: Avon Foundation

Innovative Approaches to Improve Community Health
Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Supports promising new practices that serve vulnerable populations by advancing prevention, improving access, and integrating primary community and clinical care.
Sponsor: Kresge Foundation

Summer Food Service Program
Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Funding to provide free, nutritious meals and snacks to help children in low-income areas get the nutrition they need during the summer months.
Sponsor: U.S. Department of Agriculture

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