Not displaying correctly? View this email in your web browser... Miss an issue? View the archives...
NCHN eNews
August 23, 2011
Dear NCHN Members and Friends,

Welcome to the latest issue of the NCHN Weekly Digest. There is a lot of national news this week. USDA and HHS have signed a MOU to expand HIT Infrastructure in Rural Areas. The White House Rural Council has recommended initiatives to increase rural access to health care jobs and technology. Last but not least, we are especially excited that NRHA's Alan Morgan is on the list of the 2011 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare. Go Rural Health! Speaking of which, don't forget that November 17th is National Rural Health Day: SAVE THE DATE & CELEBRATE!

Let us know what's going on with your network
If you have information you would like to share, or have any feedback, please email us.








Extraordinary Leadership Transforms Networks - 2011 NCHN Leadership Summit Sept 27 2011 in Kansas City MODate: September 27, 2011
Location: Hyatt Regency Crown Center
2345 McGee
Kansas City, MO

According to Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary, the first know use of the word “Transform” was in the 14th century.  Transform implies a major change in form, nature, or function. A little creativity can transform an ordinary meal into a special event.  One synonym of transform is “metamorphose” – which suggests an abrupt or startling change induced by or as if by magic or a supernatural power! 

Join us in Kansas City for a “metamorphosing” experience!

Early bird registration ends Sept. 15, 2011 @ 5:00 PM ET
$125 for NCHN Members ($175 after 9/15/11)
$200 for non-Members ($275 after 9/15/11)

Hotel Reservations: $135+tax (if made by September 5, 2011)


From the Forum

There are no new posts this week.



Know a word of letters three. Add two, and fewer there will be.



Special Topic: Community Needs Assessments and the Affordable Care Act

Per the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), all 501(c)3 hospitals must conduct a community health needs assessment every 3 years and results must be reported on the hospital's Form 990. This can be found in Section 501(r)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and section 9007(a) of the PPACA.

Heman Marshall, Attorney with Woods Rogerts PLC, has informed us that the IRS issued a notice on July 7, 2011 (see seeking comments on proposed regulations regarding community health needs assessments required of tax-exempt hospitals under PPACA.  Per the IRS, hospitals may rely on the notice until further guidance is issued.  The IRS is accepting comments until Sept 23. 

Mr. Marshall has offered to look into this topic more if needed. Please email us if you are interested in a summary of the community needs assessment regulations set forth in the PPACA.

More on this...
IRS Issues Interim Guidance Concerning Community Health Needs Assessment Requirements Applicable to Tax-Exempt Hospitals (Hunton & Williams, August 12, 2011)

Upcoming NCHN Calls & Events

2011 Leadership Summit Committee Call
Thursday, August 25 @ 11:00 AM ET

Board of Directors Call
Monday, August 29 @ 2:00 PM ET

Quarterly Membership Call
Monday, September 12 @ 2:00 PM ET (Topic TBA)

Executive Coaching Training Calls
Wednesday, September 14 @ 11:00 AM ET

1st NCHN Leadership Summit
Tuesday, September 27
Hyatt Regency Crown Center: Kansas City, MO

» VIEW THE NCHN CALENDAR for more upcoming calls



There are no new member blurbs this week. » SUBMIT YOUR NEWS



NRHA's Alan Morgan Makes List of Modern Healthcare's 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare

Congratulations to NRHA CEO Alan Morgan, who rolled in at #82 in Modern Healthcare's 2011 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare! The annual 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare competition recognizes the men and women considered among the most influential throughout the industry, as chosen by readers of Modern Healthcare.


GrantStation Offers Free Tour of the Grant Station Website

Webinar: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 2:00 PM ET

Join Jeremy Smith, GrantStation's Communications and Technology Director, for a short tour of the GrantStation website. Learn how to use the tools that GrantStation provides to help you identify the right grantmaker for any program or project. If you've just joined GrantStation, this tour will help you determine the most effective way to use the valuable resources the website provides. If you haven't joined yet, this tour will help you determine if a GrantStation Membership fits your needs. There will be plenty of time for questions. This webinar will be held Wednesday, August 24, 2011.


GrantStation is an NCHN partner and offers subscriptions to NCHN members at a discounted rate. For more information, contact Cindy Stinnett at



CMS Rural Health Open Door Forum

August 23, 2011 @ 2:00 PM ET

Dial: 1.800.837.1935
Conference ID: 68647472
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Conference Call Only


State Health Insurance Exchanges Webinar

August 31, 2011 | 3:00 - 4:30 PM ET

John O'Brien, senior advisor to the SAMHSA Administrator and former longtime consultant on health care financing, will again be the featured presenter in a webinar on state health insurance exchanges being developed as part of the Affordable Care Act. This webinar will look at the elements required for the exchanges and the benefits that coverage provided by the exchanges must include, as well as the processes by which exchanges are being developed in different states.


Conference Calls: Affordable Care Act 101
Hosted By the HHS Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Tuesday, August 23, at 8 pm ET
Wednesday, August 31, at 12:30 pm ET
Wednesday, September 14, at 12:30 pm ET

Did you know...?

  • young adults can stay on their parent’s health insurance until the age of 26, even if they don’t live at home or are married?
  • there is now a plan for people with pre-existing conditions to access health insurance called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan?
  • 8 million children who are currently uninsured are eligible to receive care through the Children’s Health Insurance Program known as CHIP?

There are millions of people who lack access to health care, essential for healthy children, families and communities, throughout the United States.  Many families don’t know what their options are to access better care.

NOW YOU CAN LEARN MORE about many provisions that are currently in place that could help you and those in your congregation or community.

The Affordable Care Act expands access to care, ends abuses of insurers, and makes health care more affordable.  The law helps those with pre-existing health conditions, people who are under age 26 and without health insurance, the most vulnerable in our society and those who are currently insured.  To learn more about the health care law and how to access health care benefits in your community, RSVP to attend our Affordable Care Act 101 Conference Call.


Monthly Rural Health Care Conference Call

September 8, 2011 @ 2:00 PM ET

Dial-in: 1 (800) 240-9939
Passcode: 6772 932#
Universal Service Fund (USF)

The Rural Health Care Program of the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), is a support program authorized by Congress and designed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide reduced rates to rural health care providers (HCPs) for telecommunications services and Internet access charges related to the use of telemedicine and telehealth.

Program applicants and service providers can raise issues of concern or seek clarification on program rules during monthly outreach conference calls. The discussion of agenda items is followed by a general question and answer period.


National Rural Health Day - SAVE THE DATE!

November 17, 2011

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) invites all rural stakeholders to join the inaugural National Rural Health Day celebration on Thursday, November 17. NOSORH partners planning to recognize this special occasion include:

  • State Offices of Rural Health
  • National Rural Health Association
  • Rural Recruitment and Retention Network
  • National Cooperative of Health Networks
  • Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

How you celebrate is up to you — just be sure to celebrate!

» CONTACT BILL HESSERT to be placed on the NRHD mailing list



USDA and HHS Sign Agreement to Help Expand Health IT Infrastructure in Rural America

August 22, 2011 (ONC Health IT) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Rural Health Information Technology (Health IT) Task Force, specifically the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Health Resources and Services Administration, has been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure that rural health care providers can use USDA's Rural Development grants and loans to support the acquisition of health IT infrastructure.

HHS and USDA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) linking rural hospitals and clinicians to existing capital loan programs that enable them to purchase software and hardware needed to implement health IT. On August 16, 2011, the White House publicly announced the Administration's commitment to this MOU in a press release.

Two key USDA Rural Development programs that can help expand health IT infrastructure in rural America include the:

  • Community Facilities Program, which provides direct and guaranteed loans as well as grants for community facilities projects in rural areas. This program may help offset the costs of electronic health records implementation for rural health care providers.

Staffing Changes at ORHP

August 22, 2011 (ORHP email)
ORHP Partners:

The Office of Rural Health Policy is pleased to announce two staffing changes. First, to help in meeting the increased demands of program integrity and performance measurement within the office, both the Hospital State Division and the Community Based Division have created Deputy Director Positions. Kathryn Umali will serve as the Deputy Director of the Community Based Division and Mike McNeely is the new Deputy Director of the Hospital State Division.

Kathryn’s primary focus as the CBD Deputy role will be around assisting in the operations and management aspects of the Division. This includes but is not limited to: Grants coordination, PIMS coordination, Budget coordination and development of a communication plan with the other divisions.  She will also remain to be the program coordinator for the Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program (Outreach Program) providing leadership and programmatic oversight of this program.  Prior to this position, Kathryn served as the Program Coordinator for the Delta Health Initiative (DHI) and Co-Coordinator for the Intergovernmental Affairs of HRSA.  She also worked at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals on emergency preparedness and various maternal and child health initiatives. Ms. Umali holds a Master of Public Health degree in Health Education/Communication and Maternal and Child Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota.

Mike’s primary focus as the HSD Deputy will be around the operations and management of the Division’s programs. He will work with grants program coordination and with EHB, performance measure He will remain in his role of Flex Program Coordinator and as a project officer in Region C. Mike has been with the Office since 2007and joined HRSA as a HRSA Scholar in 2006.  In his time at the Office, Mike has coordinated the Office’s policy activities around health information technology (HIT) with a particular focus on the HITECH Provisions included in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.  Over the past year, Mike has helped to staff the Secretary’s Rural HIT Task Force while also serving as a project officer within the Hospital State Division at ORHP working with the Flex, State Office and Small Hospital Improvement grant programs.  Prior to working with HRSA, Mike worked at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program as a public health advisor.  Mike has an MBA from Thomas More College and a Master's of Public Health in Health Services Management from the University of Kentucky.

We would like you to join us in congratulating them in their new role and please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!

Nisha Patel, MA, CHES
Director, Community-Based Division
HRSA/Office of Rural Health Policy, Rm. 5A-55

President Obama Announces New Jobs Initiatives for Rural America

August 17, 2011 (MMD Newswire) - On August 16, at the White House Rural Economic Forum, President Obama [announced] new jobs initiatives recommended by the White House Rural Council for growing the economy and creating jobs in rural America. The Council's recommendations focus on key areas of need in rural communities, including helping rural small businesses access capital, expanding rural job search and training services, and increasing rural access to health care workers and technology.

"These are tough times for a lot of Americans - including those who live in our rural communities," said President Obama. "That's why my administration has put a special focus on helping rural families find jobs, grow their businesses, and regain a sense of economic security."

"Creating jobs and economic opportunity in rural America is a priority for the Obama Administration, and the White House Rural Council has used an 'all hands on deck' approach to leverage resources across the federal government to achieve that goal," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "By bringing new capital, job training, and additional investments to our rural communities, we are working to ensure the people who live in these towns have a better, brighter future."


More on this:
From the Whote House Rural Council website (Aug. 16, 2011) - Increasing Physician Recruitment at Critical Access Hospitals: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will issue guidance to expand eligibility for the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program so that Critical Access Hospitals (those with 25 beds or fewer) can use these loans to recruit new physicians. This program will help more than 1,300 CAHs across the country recruit needed staff.  The addition of one primary care physician in a rural community generates approximately $1.5 million in annual revenue and creates 23 jobs annually.  The average CAH creates 107 jobs and generates $4.8 million in payroll annually.

HHS sponsors contest for Facebook personal preparedness applications

August 22, 2011 (HHS News Release) - Federal officials are challenging software application developers to design new Facebook applications to help people prepare for emergencies and get support from friends and family after an emergency strikes – from personal medical emergencies to natural or man-made disasters. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) issued the ASPR Lifeline Facebook Application Developer Challenge in collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a health-focused online community of developers, designers, patients, providers, health care organizations that promotes health technology innovation.

The online challenge runs throughout National Preparedness Month in September and the remainder of the 2011 hurricane season, closing Nov. 4.

“After disasters, a tremendous number of people use Facebook to post and share information,” said Assistant Secretary Nicole Lurie, M.D., a rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service. “We’re challenging our country’s most innovative developers to create apps that help people use Facebook not only to reach out to friends and family for any kind of help they may need after emergency but also to become better prepared in the first place.”


HHS awards $40 Million in grants to sign up children for health coverage

August 18, 2011 (HHS News Release) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced $40 million in grants for efforts to identify and enroll children eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Grants were awarded to 39 state agencies, community health centers, school-based organizations and non-profit groups in 23 states. The two-year grants are authorized under the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) of 2009.


Medicare to Save Taxpayers and Beneficiaries $28 Billion with an Expanded Competitive Bidding Program
Program to Purchase Durable Medical Equipment Beginning Second Phase

August 19, 2011 (CMS News Release) - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced the next steps for a major expansion of a competitive bidding program that helps lower costs for quality durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies. 

“Today, we’re taking steps that will save Medicare, seniors, and taxpayers $28 billion over 10 years,” said CMS Administration Donald M. Berwick, M.D. “Medicare is paying much more than the private sector for equipment like wheelchairs and walkers. By expanding our successful competitive bidding program, we can ensure that Medicare pays a fair rate for these goods.”.”

The competitive bidding program uses competitions between suppliers to set new, lower payment rates for certain medical equipment and supplies, such as oxygen equipment, walkers, and some types of power wheelchairs.  The first phase of the program was successfully implemented for nine product categories in nine areas of the country on January 1, 2011.

To date, Round One of competitive bidding has yielded savings of 35% compared to the fee schedule, 51% of contracts awarded to small businesses, and no changes in beneficiary health status.   Inquiries in the first quarter of 2011 totaled less than 0.9 percent of calls to the Medicare call center, and Medicare received only 45 complaints during that time.

As required by law, CMS will conduct the second phase of the program for a similar set of products in 91 major metropolitan areas. Competition begins this fall, and the new prices will be in effect on July 1, 2013.


HRSA Data Warehouse: Rural Mapping

August 17, 2011 (HRSA email) - The HRSA Data Warehouse has added a new mapping layer that allows you to map ORHP defined rural areas.  The advantage to this is that you can see both the non-metro counties and the RUCA census tracts laid out so you can see ALL the rural area in a State, a county, or set of counties.  You can also use this to map which HRSA grantees are located in a rural area. (You must use Internet Explorer to access the page.)

Go to

On the left hand column you can specify the geographic area to map.  Then select Rural Health Area from the “Click here to select a layer to add” menu and all the ORHP defined rural area are highlighted in green.  Things become much clearer if you highlight “Base Map Information” in the left column and hit the “Remove” button.

» ACCESS THE APPLICATION (must use Internet Explorer)



There are no new funding announcements this week. However, remember that you can always visit the RAC web site or use GrantStation (if you are a subscriber) to search funding opportunities. Both sites have excellent listings.

Please send us any announcements you would like to share witht he NCHN membership.



NCHN Logo National Cooperative of Health Networks
Contact Us | About Us |
To learn more about membership and to join, go to
or contact Christy Sullenberger at