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NCHN eNews
June 19, 2012
This issue's highlights:
  • NCHN News: June Coffee/Tea Chat (Wednesday, 6/20)
  • NCHN News: NCHN Welcomes New Member
  • Member News: Rural Health & Jobs Need Medicare’s Support
  • Partner News: NRHA Government Affairs: MedPAC Rural Report--Action Needed
  • National News: Hospitals Dispute Rural Health Findings
  • Funding: MultiPlan to Award $30,000 in Grants to Rural Hospitals

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June Coffee/Tea Chat

Wednesday, June 20 at 12:00 PM ET

It is time to grab an iced coffee, tea or lemonade and join NCHN members and Dr. Chess for our monthly chat on Wednesday, June 20th from 12:00 PM ET until 1 PM ET. 

One area we'll chat about is "The Check-List for High-Value Health Care", a series of features identified by healthcare leaders across the U.S. to enhance accountability in our communities. 

As a reminder, here are the major areas in the High-Value Checklist - 1) Foundational elements; 2) Infrastructure Fundamentals; 3) Care delivery priorities; and 4) Reliability and feedback.  Some of our inquiry around these items will be:  How are you and your Board demonstrating internal transparency and visible progress on performance and outcomes?  And, what IT (Information Technology) best practices have you identified for reliable information to and from the point of care.

This conversation continues to build on our conversation at the national NCHN meeting around metrics and is a conversation many of your member CEOs are having with their staff and Boards.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday!

PS – Call in details were distributed to NCHN members through a Save the Date announcement and are also posted on the NCHN on-line forum in the NCHN members only section under Coffee/Tea Chat, or you can email Rebecca for the information.


The first is needed to make quotes you see, And it often sticks up when it's time for noon tea.

The second's biggest distinction is found Bearing the symbol of love that is bound.

The third should be biggest but that can depend, Never standing alone or it may offend. The fourth is oft used when making a selection Or if you should need a gun for protection.

The fifth is the fattest and oddest by far, And can sometimes be found in a wrestling war. What are they?


NCHN Welcomes New Member

Please join the NCHN Board of Directors in welcoming NCHN's newest network member: Carol Wilson, Executive Director of North Idaho Rural Health Consortium.

North Idaho Rural Health Consortium was founded in 1991 and is based in Couer d'Alene, Idaho. It is currently comprised of 5 members with the mission of helping hospitals in North Idaho improve the care being delivered to patients. Its programs include networking, education, group contracting, program development, and telehealth.

For more information, contact:
Carol Wilson, Executive Director
Ph: 208-666-3863

Upcoming NCHN Calls & Events

Program Development Committee Call
Tuesday, June 19 @ 12:00 PM ET

Coffee/Tea Chat with Dr. Chess
Wednesday, June 20 @ 12:00 PM ET

2013 Conference Planning Committee Call
Tuesday, June 26 @ 2:00 PM ET




Rural Health & Jobs Need Medicare’s Support
by Tim Size, Executive Director, Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative

July 1, 2012 (RWHC Eye on Health) - One out of every six of us lives in rural America. The Midwest has the highest percentage of people living in rural communities (one out of every four).

Most of us have a job. Most of us have health insurance. Neither is perfect. You may feel you don’t need to worry about what Congress does to Medicare. Guess again. Regardless of your age, it will affect you.

The politicians in Washington continue with their high stakes child’s game of “king of the hill.” As they do so, the fragile payment system supporting rural hospitals and clinics may be trampled.




NRHA Government Affairs: MedPAC Rural Report--Action Needed

June 18, 2012 (NRHA e-mail)

Hello All,

The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health announced a hearing tomorrow on the June MedPAC report.  Chapter 5 of this report is the “Rural Report” that, among other things, concludes that Medicare payment policies are adequate and that there is no access to care problem in rural areas (report available here).  We are worried that Congress may hear this report and deem that programs and policies aimed at fixing these issues are no longer needed and rescind these policies or allow them to expire.

Please reach out to your members of the House, especially those members listed below, and let them know that:

1) access to health care is still a challenge in rural America; and
2) rural hospitals, clinics, and independent practices are still facing significant financial challenges.

Please use any data, stories, or examples that you can provide to make this point.  Please contact NRHA Government Affairs staff at (202) 639-0550 with any questions.

NRHA Government Affairs

Members of House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health:
Wally Herger, CA
Pete Stark, CA
Sam Johnson, TX
Paul Ryan, WI
Devin Nunes, CA
Dave Reichart, WA
Peter Roskam, IL
Jim Gerlach, PA
Tom Price, GA
Vern Buchanan, FL
Mike Thompson, CA
Ron Kind, WI
Earl Blumenauer, OR
Bill Pascrell, NJ




HRSA Health IT & Quality Webinar

Topic: "Health IT Project Management 101: How to Avoid Failure"

Webinar: June 22, 2012 @ 2:00 PM ET


States Prepare for Medicaid's Growth Spurt
State Reforum

Webinar: June 20, 2012 @ 2:30 PM ET

The Affordable Care Act sets a new national floor for Medicaid coverage. By 2019, Medicaid is estimated to cover an additional 16 million of the most vulnerable Americans, significantly increasing the shape and size of the program. Getting ready for this growth spurt is largely in the hands of states. On this State Refor(u)m webinar, officials from three states will provide a closer look at what states are doing to prepare. They will answer questions like: Who is likely to enroll and how did the state make these estimates?  How are existing eligibility categories expected to change?  How will Medicaid integrate with the insurance exchange? How is Medicaid addressing benchmark plan design and access to services? What are strategies to involve stakeholders in this process?

Please join us on June 20, 2012 from 2:30-4pm Eastern for what is sure to be the start of a rich discussion about Medicaid’s road to 2014.


Assess Needs & Resources In-depth
County Health Rankings & Roadmaps

Webinar: June 26, 2012 | 2:00 - 3:00 PM CDT

This webinar is limited to the first 40 registrants and will focus in-depth on the Assess Needs & Resources section of the Take Action Cycle. It will also be interactive so the participants can have a dialogue with the presenters.


AHA's RACTrac Quarterly Webinar
American Hospital Association

June 27, 2012 | 2:00 - 3:30 PM ET

Join us June 27th to learn the results of the first quarter 2012 nationwide data collection of the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) RACTrac survey. More than 2,000 hospitals have responded to the survey, allowing AHA to identify important trends in RAC activity throughout the country. Join us for this free webinar to learn more about the impact of the permanent RAC program on hospitals, how you can get involved in the RACTrac initiative and how we can work together to ensure RACTrac continues to be a strong advocacy and educational tool for the hospital community.

The webinar is for hospital representatives and state, regional and metro hospital association representatives only. During the webinar, we will provide a RAC program update, review first quarter 2012 RACTrac survey results—including data reflecting an increase in medical necessity denials and continued hospital success in the appeals process—and provide information on how to use RACTrac.


Payment Reform and the Safety Net
National Academy for State Health Policy

June 29, 2012 | 3:00 - 4:00 PM EDT

Medicaid payment reform is needed to drive delivery system change. Moving to value-based purchasing strategies, particularly for patients with complex health needs, makes sense. Historically, however, few Medicaid programs have succeeded in moving safety net providers away from volume-based reimbursement.  This Medicaid-only webinar will discuss options and possibilities for safety net providers to participate in value-based payment models.  Oregon’s Medicaid Director will discuss how safety net providers fit into the state’s new Coordinated Care Organization program, as well as the development of a new alternative payment methodology (APM) for federally qualified health centers (FQHCs).  Senior staff from the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, CHIP, and Survey & Certification (CMCS) at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will follow with remarks on state flexibility to pursue new value-based purchasing strategies, especially through State plan amendments and 1115 waivers.  The webinar will conclude with time for discussion among states and opportunities to give CMS feedback on this topic.


NRHA Rural Quality and Clinical Conference

July 18 - 20, 2012
Seattle, WA

NRHA’s Rural Quality and Clinical Conference is an interactive conference for quality improvement coordinators, performance improvement coordinators, rural clinicians, quality improvement organizations, and nurses practicing on the front lines of rural health care.


NRHA's March for Rural Hospitals

July 30 - 31, 2012
Wasington, D.C.

NRHA is hosting this free education and advocacy event.

Join experts in D.C. to learn how to save Medicare Dependent Hospitals (MDHs) and the Low-Volume Hospital (LVH) program, and take this important message to Capitol Hill:

If congressional action is not taken by Oct. 1, millions of dollars in reimbursements to these facilities will be lost, hospital services will be reduced, and rural hospital doors will close.




Hospitals Dispute Rural Health Findings

June 18, 2012 (The Daily Yonder) - An independent congressional agency given the job of reporting on functioning of Medicare has issued a report finding that access to care and quality of care does not vary much from rural to urban areas and that payments to rural physicians are "at least as adequate as those made to urban physicians."

Moreover, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) finds that some special payments to rural hospitals should not be continued.

MedPAC's findings have brought a strong reaction from rural health care groups. “The National Rural Health Association strongly disagrees with this report,” said Alan Morgan, National Rural Health Association CEO. “Rural patients and providers will ultimately pay the price as rural hospitals will be forced to eliminate services or close their doors if this report is enacted. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s (MedPAC) conclusions are counter to national data. Primary care workforce shortages remain a significant challenge in rural areas.” 


HHS announces 81 Health Care Innovation Awards

June 15, 2012 (HHS News Release) - Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the recipients of 81 new Health Care Innovation Awards made possible by the health care law, the Affordable Care Act. The awards will support innovative projects nationwide designed to deliver high-quality medical care, enhance the health care workforce, and save money. Combined with the awards announced last month, HHS has awarded 107 projects that, according to awardees, intend to save the health care system an estimated $1.9 billion over the next three years.


Any Supreme Court ruling hurts nonprofit hospitals

June 14, 2012 (The Chicago Tribune) - No matter how the Supreme Court decides on the national healthcare law, nonprofit hospitals will face a rocky future, Moody's Investors Service said in a study published on Thursday.

Within the next two weeks the highest court in the country is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, that has inspired both political and legal battles from the moment President Barack Obama signed it into law more than two years ago.


How Hospitals Can Shape Sustainable Cost Control
by Karen Minich-Pourshadi

June 13, 2012 (HealthLeaders Media) - It is among a healthcare leader's greatest challenges: how to make truly sustainable, long-term cost reductions instead of annual, tactical cuts. The frustration to move from the immediate and into the long-term cost-reduction phase is perhaps best summed up by these comments from a physician organization CFO who participated in the November 2011 HealthLeaders Intelligence Report Cost Containment: Overcoming Challenges: "We can't get beyond the idea stage. We run around like Chicken Little—the sky is falling—we must reduce costs now. Then, we get absorbed into the next crisis and forget all about cost reduction. We need to appoint a leader, create a plan with measureable goals, get buy-in, implement, and then monitor and reassess. We're just too busy some days to reduce costs."


Committee Approves FY13 Labor HHS and Financial Services Appropriations Bills
U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations

June 14, 2012 (U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Press Release) - The Senate Committee on Appropriations today approved the fiscal year 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill by a vote of 16-14; and the Financial Services and General Government bill by a vote of 16-14.  Both measures will now be reported to the full Senate for its consideration. 

» CONTINUE READING (includes links to the bills approved by the committee)

Rural Healthcare Reveals High Value for Americans

June 12, 2012 (PR Newswire) - The latest update to Rural Relevance Under Healthcare Reform: A Tracking Study was released today by iVantage Health Analytics, Inc. The new release includes analysis from the company's data stores including: the Fifth Annual National Emergency Department Study, the Hospital Strength Index(TM) and the 2011 CMS Shared Savings Data File for ACO Development.

The study recognizes the significant differences between healthcare in rural America compared to urban settings and the unique challenges that many safety net hospitals in sole provider communities face. This study nonetheless finds high value in rural healthcare. The study evaluates key performance measures across physician, outpatient, hospital and emergency department settings. The measures include: beneficiary costs, quality of care, patient safety, patient outcomes, patient satisfaction, facility costs and service pricing, market size, competition and demand growth factors.


The President's Rural Term Paper
by Bill Bishop

June 12, 2012 (The Daily Yonder) - The Obama administration released a report Monday on its policies and accomplishments in rural America during the President's first term in office. Rural equals agriculture in this report — and that leaves out the environment, worker safety, education and the hearings the administration held across the country on the lack of competition in the ag business.


Uncertainty Over Law Casts Shadow Over Health Care Innovations
by Jordan Rau

June 17, 2012 (Kaiser Health News) - The health care law placed the force and money of the federal government behind a decade’s worth of ideas on how to improve patient care and change the ways doctors and hospitals function.

While this part of the health care law is at the periphery of the Supreme Court challenge, these changes could be halted if the court throws out the entire law, and some experts say they might be hobbled even if the justices excise just parts of the Affordable Care Act.


Consumer Reports Releases First-Ever Doctor Practice Ratings

June 2012 (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) - Consumer Reports released its first patient experience ratings of primary care physician groups as part of a partnership with Aligning Forces for Quality, the Foundation’s signature effort to lift the quality of care in 16 targeted communities. The ratings cover nearly 500 practices in Massachusetts and were developed by Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP), a coalition of leading health care stakeholders that operates Greater Boston Aligning Forces for Quality. The report promotes opportunities for patients to become more involved in their care and to build stronger partnerships with their doctors.


Camp addresses shortage in rural health providers
by Nicole Weskerna

June 14, 2012 (Daily Chronicle) - Nicole Dispensa is heading toward a job in health care, but she believes her hometown of Stillman Valley lacks the resources to learn more about that career path. Dispensa, 17, wants to pursue a career in clinical lab sciences. In a town with a population of about 1,100 people, it’s not easy to come by people in that profession.


Social-Class Discrimination Contributes to Poorer Health

June 15, 2012 (UofW School of Medicine and Public Health) - Discrimination felt by teenagers based on their social class background can contribute to physiologic changes associated with poorer health, according to a new study led by a University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher. Lead author Dr. Thomas Fuller-Rowell, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar, says that while the link between poverty and poor health has long been known, this is one of the first studies to consider the impact of class discrimination.




MultiPlan to Award $30,000 in Grants to Rural Hospitals
MultiPlan, Inc.

2012 Call for Proposals

June 14, 2012 (PRWeb) - MultiPlan, Inc., the nation’s oldest and largest independent PPO network, is accepting applications for its 2012 Rural Health Outreach Grant. The program, now in its 17th year, awards hospitals serving rural areas financial grants to help them introduce or expand services, education, screenings and other endeavors aimed at improving the health of people in their communities.



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