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NCHN Healthcare News Digest

Issue #5 | Monday, September 13, 2010

+ NCHN Quarterly Membership Call

NCHN’s Quarterly Membership Call is Monday, September 20 at 12:30 PM ET. 

We are very pleased to announce that we will have the opportunity to discuss with Bill von Oehsen, President and General Counsel, Safety Net Hospitals for Pharmaceutical Access (SNHPA) the 340B Drug Discount Program.  Mr. von Oehsen was deeply involved in drafting the original 340B law and played a key role in ensuring that rural hospitals were added to the program.

As many of you are aware, under the recently enacted PPACA, a number of new categories of hospitals are now eligible to participate in the 340B Program, including CAHs (critical access hospitals), sole community hospitals, and rural referral centers.  Please feel free to invite your network members that may be interested in the 340B Program to participate on the call with us.

Topics discussed on the call will include:

  • How is 340B a cost-savings strategy, especially for smaller hospitals?
  • How do we determine if we qualify for 340B and how do we enroll?
  • Which patients, hospitals and facilities are eligible for 340B drugs?
  • Can we continue to use our group purchasing organization (GPO)?
  • Do we need a Memorandum of Understanding and how do we put one into place?
  • How do we keep separate inventories of inpatient and outpatient drugs?
  • How do we properly bill Medicaid?
  • Do we need to set up a contract pharmacy arrangement and how does that work?
  • What is the prohibition against accessing 340B discounts on orphan drugs and what steps are being taken to reverse this policy?
  • What efforts are underway to extend 340B pricing to the inpatient setting?

The call is free, but you must pre-register so that we are sure we have enough lines for all participants.  To pre-register for the call, please email Cindy Stinnett at by noon on Friday, September 17.  You will be provided with call in information and any handouts for the call by Friday afternoon. 

About SNHPA: A non-profit membership organization that advocates on behalf of over 500 hospitals around the country that are enrolled or considering enrollment in the 340B program. They provide a variety of valuable programs and services to ensure that members get the most out of the program while complying with the law. They offer practical, customized guidance on everything from operations to compliance and, as a membership organization, do so at an affordable price point. For more information about SNHPA visit:

+ New funds support rural hospitals’ switch to electronic health records

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced nearly $20 million in new technical support assistance to help critical access and rural hospital facilities convert from paper-based medical records to certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. Some 1,655 critical access and rural hospitals in 41 states and the nationwide Indian Country, headquartered in the District of Columbia, stand to benefit from this assistance, which can help each of them qualify for substantial EHR incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid.

Continue reading... (Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, News Release, September 10, 2010)

+ Call for ORHP Reviewers

ORHP is always looking for reviewers with rural expertise and knowledge and who better to ask than our own grantees! Of course it would be a conflict of interest to be a reviewer for a program that you have applied for so please keep that in mind. We will have a number of opportunities coming up in the next year including the need for reviewers for our Rural Network Planning Program, Rural Network Development Program & the new Rural HIT Program. Please read this message from Dr. Wakefield for further information:  Once you have registered in the reviewer database, feel free to contact the program coordinator of that program to let them know of your interest.

Program Coordinators
Network Planning: Eileen Holloran,
Network Development: Leticia Manning,
Outreach: Kathryn Umali,
Small Quality: Ann Ferrero,

+ Message from the Federal Communications Commission On the Lifeline and Link-Up Programs for Low-Income Consumers

In these times with so many struggling to get by, it is important that everyone understand all of the assistance that is available to help people stay afloat.  “Lifeline" and "Link-Up" are programs that ensure that all Americans can get basic telephone service by providing limited discounts to consumers who might not otherwise be able to afford service. Lifeline involves discounts on the cost of monthly telephone service, and Link-Up involves a discount on the cost of initiating telephone service. The discount is available for the primary residential telephone, even if that phone is wireless.  The programs have been in place since the 1980s, administered by the federal government and the state public utility commissions, but, nationally, only about a third of low-income consumers who are eligible for the programs participate.  To find out about how the discount works in your state and how to apply, go to

The Federal Communications Commission, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates have adopted the first full week after Labor Day as “National Lifeline and Link Up Telephone Discount Awareness Week.”  During the week of September 13 – 19, 2010, federal and state agencies and consumer advocates will be calling attention to the availability of these programs to ensure that more eligible consumers understand that this assistance is available.  Several outreach tools to assist you are available at  

We ask you to join us in raising awareness of these important programs by posting information about the programs in your offices, distributing information on the programs to your staff and consumers you serve, forwarding this information to other organizations in your community, writing an article for a local paper that reaches consumers, or linking to, a website dedicated to these programs. 

Information on telephone subscribership in your state is available in the FCC’s recently released Telephone Subscribership Report at  You may be particularly interested in the state-by-state information available in Tables 4 (Percentage of Households with a Telephone by Income) and 7 (Percentage of Adults with a Telephone by Labor Force Status).

For more information, please contact the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-CALL-FCC or TTY 1-888-TELL-FCC.  Thank you for helping improve consumer access to these programs.


Joel Gurin
FCC Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau

+ ORHP Funding Opportunity: Rural Health Network Development Program

The Rural Health Network Development Grant Program (RHND), Announcement Number HRSA-11-089, CFDA Number 93.912, is a program to assist health oriented networks in developing and maintaining sustainable networks with self-generating revenue streams.  These networks should provide activities that benefit both network partners and the community served by the network to increase access and quality of rural health care and ultimately, improve the health status of rural residents. There will be a Technical Assistance Call on Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 2pm eastern to assist applicants in preparing their applications.  The toll-free number to call in is 1-888-603-9752. The Passcode is Network.  The application due date is November 12, 2010. The guidance can be downloaded from      

It is anticipated that there will be a similar one-time funding opportunity in fiscal year 2011 called the Rural Health Information Technology Network Program.  The primary objective of this program is to support organizations that wish to further ongoing collaborative relationships among healthcare organizations to integrate health information technological systems.  The Rural Health Information Technology Network program is a three year grant program with an equipment purchase limit of 60% each year and individual grant awards will be limited to a maximum of $300,000 per year.  ORHP anticipates this announcement to be available Jan. /Feb., 2011 with a September 1st, 2011 start date. Note: Applicants cannot apply to the Rural Health Network Development Grant Program and the Rural Health Information Technology Network Program in the same fiscal year.

+ Grant to give more HOPE to Logan County

LINCOLN (NE)— A sizeable three-year federal grant will help Logan County’s HOPE Mobile shift its focus from treating chronic health conditions to helping patients learn to manage them. The Healthy Community Partnership, which oversees the mobile health clinic that travels to local communities, has learned it is one of 58 grant recipients and the only one in Illinois. The funding is part of the Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement program administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Continue reading... (Source: Lincoln Courier Online, News > September 8, 2010)

+ Agencies Further Define ‘Preventive Services’

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, referred to as healthcare reform, provides that new benefit plans and their issuers cover certain preventive care services provided in network without charging patients any co-pays or deductibles. But until interim regulations were issued, it was hard to tell what kinds of such services were included.

Agencies base guidelines on other sources. In mid-July, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury issued regulations to define preventive care services. Remember that these guidelines don’t apply to grandfathered plans but only to new plans, fully insured or self-insured, beginning on or after September 23, 2010 (with most plan years beginning January 1, 2011). Remember as well that any recommendation or guideline for a preventive service that was issued less than a year before the employer’s plan year begins need not be covered until the following plan year.

Continue reading... (Source: > Library > News > Benefits & Leave > Healthcare & Insurance, September 7, 2010)

+ CCHIT, Drummond Group named nation's first two EHR certifiers

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) in Chicago and the Drummond Group Inc. (DGI), of Austin, Texas, have been chosen as the first two companies authorized to approve the electronic health record (EHR) systems soon to be required of all providers. The two companies may immediately begin certifying products of EHR vendors that enable healthcare providers to qualify for incentives, according to David Blumenthal, director of the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology. Incentives are available to facilities that demonstrate "meaningful use" of their certified EHR systems. Individual physicians and other eligible professionals can receive up to $44,000 through Medicare and almost $64,000 through Medicaid. Hospitals can receive millions. Applications for additional certifiers, known as ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies, are under review.

Continue reading... (Original Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, News Release, August 30, 2010)

+ Veterans Affairs Department, Indianapolis VA to pilot health information network

Indianapolis - In a pilot test of its forthcoming national health information network (NHIN), the Department of Veterans Affairs and Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis will share veterans' electronic health records (EHRs) with private clinics through the Indiana Health Information Exchange. According to VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, the agency will invite veterans who receive healthcare from VA, and from selected hospitals and providers in the Indianapolis area, to sign up for the pilot, with the understanding that their information will not be shared without their authorization. Veterans who participate will enable their public and private sector healthcare providers and doctors to share specific health information electronically—safely, securely and privately. The pilot is scheduled to run through 2012. The goal is to advance EHRs for VA and other community providers. Shinseki said the pilot is "one more step taken to deliver a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record for our nation's veterans and service members."  

Continue reading... (Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, News Release, August 24, 2010)

+ Free AgriSafe Webinar

National Farm Safety and Health Week is September 19-25th

To help bring awareness to this year's theme - "ATV's: Work Smart - Ride Smart" - the AgriSafe Network's September webinar is:

The ATV Injury Epidemic 

John Hafner, MD 
Emergency Physician, OSF St. Francis Regional Medical Center, Peoria, IL

Thursday, Sept. 16
12:00pm CDT

Session link:
Enter your name in the guest login box and click on 'Enter Room'

This webinar series is made possible by support from the National Rural Health Association.

+ HHS awards $16.8 million to train public health workforce

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the award of $16.8 million to support 27 Public Health Training Centers (PHTC) at schools of public health and other public or non-profit institutions across the country.  The PHTC Program helps improve the public health system by enhancing skills of the current and future public health workforce. Institutions accredited to provide graduate or specialized training in public health are eligible for funding.  Most of the funding – $15.4 million – is made available by the Prevention and Public Health Fund included as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Continue reading... (Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, News Release, September 13, 2010)

+ Save the Date: Health Care Conference Call with President Obama

Linking Community and Faith Leaders to New Benefits and Information
Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 4 p.m. EST
A Conference call for Faith and Community Leaders with the President of the United States

You are invited to join President Obama for a conference call to discuss key new benefits of the Affordable Care Act.   As community leaders, we want to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information and resources about these new benefits to share with your communities and congregations.

On September 23rd, the six month anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, several new health care benefits begin to apply:  young people up to age 26 can stay on their parents plan, key prevention benefits are covered without co-pays or deductibles, insurance companies can no longer discriminate against kids with pre-existing conditions or drop people from coverage when they become sick and need it most. HHS and the White House want to make sure that you have information at your fingertips to help your community members access the benefits of health care reform.   
HHS officials will provide an update on the Affordable Care Act, highlight new outreach resources, and answer questions from community and faith leaders.  Leaders will also share their efforts to bring the benefits of health care reform home to communities.  President Obama will speak to key issues related to health reform implementation.

Dial-in information will be provided by HHS next week.  For more information, write

Hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships  

+ NCHN Members: 2011 Annual Conference Planning Committee Needs Your Help

The 2011 NCHN Annual Conference Planning Committee is busy at work planning an exciting and action packed 17th Annual Conference, which will be held in Scottsdale, AZ, April 17-20, 2011.  In preparation for this boot stomping, ‘Event Winner’ conference, they need your help!  Please take a few minutes to complete a survey on the commonly shared components of successful health network organizations, regardless of type, size, age, location, etc.  They are looking for input from network leaders, staff, board members, officers, network members, former staff, and anyone connected to networks, either presently or formerly.  They are planning some exciting sessions around “Common Components” --- things that all networks have or should have in place to be successful. These are components of the organization, not characteristics of the network leader.

So, jump on this link and provide your feedback and plan now to attend the 2011 Conference!

Also, please share this link with your staff, board members, and network members as we are looking for input from a broad audience of folks working with and connected to health networks. Thanks a bunch for your assistance!  See you in Scottsdale in April!

Complete the Survey...

+ Sebelius calls on health insurers to stop misinformation and unjustified rate increases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national association of health insurers, calling on their members to stop using scare tactics and misinformation to falsely blame premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act.  Sebelius noted that the consumer protections and out-of-pocket savings provided for in the Affordable Care Act should result in a minimal impact on premiums for most Americans.  Further, she reminded health plans that states have new resources under the Affordable Care Act to crack down on unjustified premium increases.

Continue reading... (Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, News Release, September 9, 2010)

+ Invitation to the Texas Health IT Summit in Houston

You are invited to attend the Texas Health IT Summit: Houston.
Presented by Texas Health Institute and TMF Health Quality Institute in partnership with Gulf Coast Regional Extension Center
Date: Thursday – Saturday, September 30 – October 2
Location: The Westin Oaks, 5011 Westheimer Road, Houston

Subject matter experts will discuss:

  • “Meaningful use”
  • Privacy and security
  • HIT policy in Texas
  • Careers in HIT and health information exchange and
  • More!

Get more information...