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NCHN eNews
December 13, 2011
Dear NCHN Members and Friends,

In NCHN news, we want to remind you that the deadline for proposals for the 2012 NCHN Conference is approaching. It is 8 days away... before we leave for the break. Please get these in if you are planning to present or give a nudge to that great resource you have in your contacts. Under Partner News, NRHA asks that we all contact our representatives to protect rural Medicare extenders. Under Funding, you will find an interesting new opportunity from AHRQ and the looming deadline for LOIs to be submitted for the Health Care Innovation Challenge.

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.







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Upcoming NCHN Calls & Events

Program Development Committee Call
Tuesday, December 13 @ 1:00 PM ET

Executive Coaching Team Training Session
Wednesday, December 14 @ 11:00 AM ET

RHNR Consulting Task Force
Thursday, December 15 @ 12:00 PM ET

2012 Annual Conference Planning Committee
Monday, December 19 @ 2:00 PM ET

NCHN Offices Closed for Holidays
December 23, 2011 - January 2, 2012




I am weightless, but you can see me. Put me in a bucket, and I'll make it lighter. What am I?



NCHN Social Networking Survey - We have a winner (and results)!

Thank you to all who have taken the time to provide feedback through NCHN's Social Media survey. And congratulations to Steve Stoddard on winning the $15 gift card. We used an online random number generator to execute the drawing at 5:00 PM EST on Friday. Steve was lucky #12!

Our goal was, first and foremost, to gauge how well we are meeting your expectations in delivering news, and secondly, to find out how we can better connect with you and your organizations via the social networking sites NCHN uses (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn).


  • There were 20 respondents and all were NCHN Members
  • 95% prefer to receive news via newsletters, while 75% prefer individual email announcements;
  • All were either "very satisfied" (75%) or "somewhat satsfied" (25%) with NCHN's newsletters
  • The news topics that most interest you are:
    What other Networks are doing (85%)
    Funding Announcements (85%)
    Leadership Development (85%)
    Upcoming Events (85%)
  • Only 10% prefer to check news via Facebook or Twitter

We are thrilled that most of you are satisfied with the newsletter, but one of the most significant messages we take away from this survey is that members want to know what other networks are doing. We need to include more information from you and about you. Share information about your network...

The survey is still open and we would love to hear from more of you.

Estimated time to complete: 5 minutes

Call for Presentations: 2012 NCHN Annual Educational Conference

Health Networks of the Future - All Together Now!
Denver, CO: The Curtis
April 15 - 18, 2012

Deadline for Submissions: Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The National Cooperative of Health Networks Association (NCHN) invites NCHN members, Business Partners and guests with an interest in health networks to submit proposals for presentations at our 18th Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado. “Heath Networks of the Future – All Together Now!” will be an opportunity for network leaders to gather and share with their peers. 

We are interested in presentations that discuss and explore strategies of a successful network. In additions, the Conference Planning Committee is seeking mini-workshops that will provide hands-on, interactive audience participation.  The following topics are specific areas of presentation interest:

  • maintaining board member commitment and participation
  • collaboration/creating partnerships with other organizations, such as, local and state agencies, networks, other federally funded projects, etc.
  • strategies for dealing with the many changes occurring in healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act;
  • the continual implementation of Health Information Technology programs within health networks;
  • written communications, e.g., developing ROI reports, newsletters, websites, etc.
  • business planning
  • developing new programs and shared services
  • negotiation skills
  • value propositions for integrated vertical networks

The target population at the NCHN conference is Network Leaders, network staff, and network board members.   NCHN member success stories of innovations; new product/activity development; sustainability; strategic planning; board management; and other topics related to the developing and maintainence of a successful health network are also welcome.  

If you have questions, contact Rebecca at or 270-925-5611.




NCHN Quarterly Membership Call

Special thanks to the following NCHN members for sharing their Business Plans and presenting on the NCHN December Quarterly Membership Call.  The details to access the recording for the call, which will be available until January 11, 2012, along with the handouts for the call are posted on the NCHN’s Discussion Board.  If you need assistance in accessing the documents please email for assistance. 

  • Eric Buckland, FACHE, Executive Director of the Oregon Rural Health Care Quality Network
  • Toniann Richard, Executive Director of the Health Care Coalition of Lafayette County
  • Steve Stoddard, MHA, FACHE, Executive Director of the Southwest Idaho Community Health Network; and
  • Esther Hammerschlag, Network Director, Princes of Wales Health Network




NRHA: Contact Congress today to protect rural Medicare “extenders”

December 12, 2011 (NRHA email) - The National Rural Health Association calls upon you to contact your House representative today and tell them to vote no on HR 3630.

A vote for this bill is a vote against rural providers, and NRHA expects a vote on this bill this week.
This bill, intended to update the sustainable growth rate and other "extenders," fails to extend various rural provisions and cuts hospital payments for bad debt and Medicaid disproportionate share hospitals.
These “extender” provisions gained broad bipartisan support in the 111th Congress and are vital to ensuring that rural hospitals, doctors and other health care professionals can provide needed emergency and primary care.  If congressional action is not taken, these vital programs will expire at the end of the year.  Their expiration will inhibit the ability of hospitals and providers to recruit and retain professionals, further extending gaps in essential care.

That is why NRHA asked Congress to stand up for rural providers by extending these vital programs in addition to those already proposed:

  • Outpatient Hospital Hold Harmless Provisions
    Small rural hospitals (100 beds or fewer) receive Medicare payments so that they are held harmless from the effects of the outpatient prospective payment system. 
  • Section 508 Hospital Payments
    Created as part of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, certain rural hospitals, commonly referred to as “section 508 hospitals” are reimbursed by Medicare at rates that better account for the valuable service they provide to rural communities.
  • Extension of physician fee schedule mental health add-on
    Increased payment rate for psychiatric services delivered by physicians, clinical psychologists and clinical social workers by 5 percent.
Join the fight now by calling your representatives and senators and explaining the need to reauthorize all rural Medicare “extenders”.  Click here to email NRHA staff for a full list of expiring programs.

NRHA's 2012 Rural Health Awards
An awards event celebrating excellence in rural health

Nomination Deadline: February 8, 2012

Each year the National Rural Health Association honors outstanding individuals and organizations in the field of rural health at its Annual Conference, and 2012 will be no exception. Act now to nominate your favorite rural health professional or student in hope that they might be known and honored nationally for dedicating their time and talents to improving the health and well-being of others. The entry deadline is Feb. 8.




Health Care Innovation Challenge Webinar 3
"Achieving Lower Costs Through Improvement"

December 13, 2011 @ 2:00 PM ET

The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced the Health Care Innovation Challenge from the CMS Innovation Center, a new initiative designed to test creative ways to deliver high quality medical care and reduce costs across the country. In this third of four-webinar series on the Innovation Challenge, CMS Innovation Center staff will be presenting an explanation of "Total Cost of Care" and how potential applicants can demonstrate their path to achieving lower costs through improvement.


State Support for Primary Care Practice Transformation: Replication of the North Carolina Model
National Academy for State Health Policy

Webcast: December 13, 2011 @ 2:00 PM EST

This webcast is an introduction to the new Infrastructure for Maintaining Primary Care Transformation (IMPaCT) initiative in North Carolina, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). It will outline the key components of North Carolina’s primary care practice transformation strategy, their interrelationship, lessons learned, the role of a state level coalition, and collaboration with area health education centers. The webcast will describe an upcoming opportunity for three states to receive technical assistance to adapt North Carolina’s model.


HRSA HIT and Quality Webinar

“Tips For Overcoming the Gray Areas of Meaningful Use Stage 1 for Safety Net Providers”

December 13, 2011 @ 2:00 PM ET


National Medicare Training Program December Update
CMS Webinar

December 13, 2011 @ 2:30 PM ET

The CMS National Medicare Training Program will hold the December update webinar on Tuesday, December 13th.

The National Medicare Training Program provides consistent, accurate, and reliable information for Medicare partners—professionals and volunteers who work with seniors and people with disabilities—to help people with Medicare make informed health care decisions. 

We will be sharing information on the Elimination of Part D Cost Sharing for Recipients of Home and Community-Based Services, and an overview of recent CMS website updates.

Call-In Number: 800-603-1774
Conference ID: 24381429


HRSA HIT and Quality Webinar

"Tips For Engaging Safety Net Patients Using Health IT”

January 20, 2012 @ 2:00 PM ET


NRHA Rural Health Policy Institute

January 30 - February 1, 2012
Washington, D.C.

Join NRHA for the largest rural advocacy event in the country. Learn firsthand about the development and implementation of health care policy at the federal level and meet with your members.




CMS Releases Final Rule on Medicare Data to be used for Performance Measurement

December 9, 2011 (HealthReformGPS) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a final rule on the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program. Created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the CO-OP program seeks to establish nonprofit cooperative insurance plans in all States. The ACA authorizes HHS to make loans available to eligible prospective CO-OPs, with the goal of creating one CO-OP per State. The ultimate intent is for CO-OPs to be able to offer affordable, qualified health plans (QHPs) to consumers through each State’s health insurance Exchange.


HIMSS JobMine – Connecting Health IT Professionals to Safety Net Providers

December 12, 2011 (Health Information Technology and Quality eNews, November/December 2011) - HIMSS Career Services Center, powered by HIMSS® JobMine, is excited to announce its expanded focus to meet the health IT career and workforce development needs of safety net providers throughout the United States.  Through this effort, HRSA grantees will be able to leverage the HIMSS ® JobMine site to post and search resumes, take advantage of career development services, and post job openings – all at no charge to these safety net providers.


Early EMR adopters get a break; tougher criteria delayed to 2014
by Charles Feigl, amednews staff

December 12, 2011 ( - Physicians who didn't wait until 2012 to get their first meaningful use bonus will have an extra year to meet more rigorous reporting thresholds.

Physicians meeting criteria in 2011 to earn federal electronic medical record incentives will have more time before the Dept. of Health and Human Services requires them to satisfy tougher standards for attaining additional bonuses.

The move is being viewed by physicians and health policy observers as a goodwill gesture by the Obama administration toward EMR early adopters. Doctors and hospitals who currently meet stage 1 meaningful use criteria would be able to vie for bonuses for an extra year under the same requirements, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced on Nov. 30. These bonus recipients would not need to upgrade their EMR systems to comply with stage 2 standards until 2014, instead of 2013 under the initial plan.


Just Released: HCUP Facts and Figures, Updated for 2009
Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project

December 9, 2011 (HCUP eNews, Winter 2011) - HCUP has released its new statistical report, HCUP Facts and Figures: Statistics on Hospital-Based Care in the United States, 2009. The report is an update and expansion of the HCUP Facts and Figures, 2008 report and uses the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) to present information about hospital care in 2009 and trends in care between 1993 and 2009. This year's report features a special chapter on women's health.

The 2009 HCUP Facts and Figures report can be found in the Reports section of the HCUP-US Website. Facts and Figures reports from previous years can also be accessed on this page.

AHRQ Releases New Medication Reconciliation Tool for Hospitals

December 9, 2011 (AHRQ Electronic Newsletter, Issue #331) - AHRQ has released a new toolkit to help hospitals improve their medication reconciliation processes to reduce adverse drug events. The Medications at Transitions and Clinical Handoffs (MATCH) Toolkit provides step-by-step instructions on how to improve a medication reconciliation process, from planning to pilot testing, implementation, and evaluation. A workbook is included that helps users implement the Toolkit. 


AHRQ’s Innovations Exchange Focuses on Partnerships to Improve Care Coordination

December 9, 2011 (AHRQ Electronic Newsletter, Issue #331) - The December 7 issue of AHRQ’s Health Care Innovations Exchange features profiles of two programs that have implemented strategic partnerships to improve care coordination for seniors and veterans. One such program, the Cathedral Square Support and Services in Burlington, VT, provides a range of services to help senior citizens and other Medicare beneficiaries remain in their homes. A multidisciplinary, onsite health team conducts an initial assessment and creates an individualized care plan, coordinates nursing care and other services, and provides community activities to support health and wellness. A year-long pilot test with 65 residents showed the program reduced hospital admissions and readmissions, decreased falls, improved nutritional status, and increased levels of physical activity. The Innovations Exchange contains more than 650 searchable innovations and 1,625 searchable QualityTools.


With the local Government as a Partner, the VA is Expanding Access to Care for rural Veterans on the Oregon Coast
by William Murray, Strategic Planner, VA Northwest Network

December 5, 2011 (The Rural Connection Newsletter) - Lincoln County, on the beautiful but geographically isolated Oregon Coast, is home to more than 5,500 Veterans. Until 2010, those Veterans, seeking VA outpatient care, were faced with a two hour drive over Oregon’s rugged Coast Range to reach a VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Salem, Oregon. This all changed in May 2010, when the Portland VA Medical Center (VAMC), with support from the VHA Office of Rural Health (ORH), opened its Newport Outreach Clinic to serve the area’s sizable rural Veteran population.

The Newport Outreach Clinic is open to VA patients four days a week for primary care services. Mental Health services are provided by a traveling VA Psychiatrist, and via tele-mental health services. Demand for primary care services increased quickly after the clinic opened, with the primary care physician’s panel filling within a year. The Newport Outreach Clinic is a pioneering partnership between the VA and the Lincoln County Health and Human Services Department. The VA supplies a primary care provider as well as a part-time mental health provider, and the county offers clinic space, equipment, supplies and support staff.


The Geography of Disability
by Bill Bishop and Roberto Gallardo

November 30, 2011 (Daily Yonder) - The Social Security disability system began in 1957 as a way to help people too sick to work. By 2009 more than 9.6 million Americans were counted as disabled. Rates of disability in rural America are 80 percent higher than in the cities.

More than one out of four working age adults (15 to 64) in Buchanan County, Virginia, was receiving disability payments from Social Security in 2009.

There were nearly 16,000 working age adults in Buchanan, a coal mining county nudged up next to Kentucky and West Virginia. Just over 4,400 were disabled. (To see a chart with the 50 U.S. counties with the largest percentages of disabled working age adults, jump to the next page.)




New AHRQ Funding Opportunity on Research Centers in Primary Care Practice Based Research and Learning
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

December 12, 2011 (AHRQ email) - AHRQ has released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) soliciting Center Core grant applications from organizations with a track record of success in conducting research in primary care practice-based research networks (PBRNs).  Each research center must have at least 120 primary care member practices organized around shared resources and research infrastructure. These centers will foster a highly collaborative, interdisciplinary research environment. AHRQ is particularly interested in supporting center infrastructure that will accelerate both the generation of new knowledge and a community of learning for primary care practices to improve quality, patient safety and effectiveness of care.  AHRQ intends to publish future “rapid-cycle” FOAs describing research projects that will be limited to funded centers because of the cohesive infrastructure required to respond to these rapid-cycle funding opportunities. Applications are due by January 26, 2012.


Health Care Innovation Challenge
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation

LOI Due: December 19, 2011
Application Due: January 27, 2012
Anticipated Award Date: March 30, 2012

The Health Care Innovation Challenge will award up $1 billion in grants to applicants who will implement the most compelling new ideas to deliver better health, improved care and lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP, particularly those with the highest health care needs.

The objectives of this initiative are to:

  • Engage a broad set of innovation partners to identify and test new care delivery and payment models that originate in the field and that produce better care, better health, and reduced cost through improvement for identified target populations.
  • Identify new models of workforce development and deployment and related training and education that support new models either directly or through new infrastructure activities.
  • Support innovators who can rapidly deploy care improvement models (within six months of award) through new ventures or expansion of existing efforts to new populations of patients, in conjunction (where possible) with other public and private sector partners.

Awards will range from approximately $1 million to $30 million for a three-year period.  Applications are open to providers, payers, local government, public-private partnerships and multi-payer collaboratives.  Each grantee project will be monitored for measurable improvements in quality of care and savings generated.

The Health Care Innovation Challenge will encourage applicants to include new models of workforce development and deployment that efficiently support their service delivery model proposal.  Enhanced infrastructure to support more cost effective system-wide function is also a critical component of health care system transformation, and applicants are encouraged to include this as an element of their proposals.



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