SORH Reauthorization Bill Update
The House and Senate returned to Washington in September for their final legislative work period before the 2018 mid-term elections. With the Senate having already passed the State Office of Rural Health (SORH) Reauthorization bill, the focus shifted to the House. The House bill, H.R. 5641, picked up a critical cosponsor with Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) agreeing to sign-on. Griffith is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee which has primary jurisdiction over SORH legislation.
NOSORH met with the Energy and Commerce Committee during September and believes there is a good chance the Committee advances the SORH reauthorization bill the next time the committee addresses public health legislation.
SORH Funding Remains Unchanged
On September 13, the House and Senate conferees approved the conference report for the FY 2019 DoD and Labor-HHS spending bill (H.R. 6157). Five days later, the Senate passed the conference report by a 93-7 vote . On September 26, the House easily passed the conference report thus sending the FY 19 spending bill to the President which he is expected to sign.
The SORH number for FY 19 came in at $10,000,000 which is the same number as FY 18. When the House originally passed the FY 19 Labor-HHS bill, the funding was $11,000,000 for SORH. The Senate passed version was at $10,000,000. Conferees went with the Senate number.
Other rural health related items included in the conference report were Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility grants which were funded at $53,609,000. This is a four million dollar increase over FY 18. Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant Program was funded at $19,942,000 for FY 19. This is also a four million dollar increase over FY 18.
NOSORH Speaks Before U.S. Senate
On September 27, Lisa Davis, Director of the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, spoke before the U.S. Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee at their annual Rural Summit. The Summit was kicked off by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and featured Senators and participants from across the county addressing issues facing rural America.
Lisa Davis spoke on a panel addressing health care issues in rural America. The panel was led by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tina Smith (D-MN) and moderated by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). Senators Smith and Heitkamp were original cosponsors on the SORH Reauthorization bill. Davis thanked the Senate for passing the State Offices of Rural Health Reauthorization Act of 2018 and spoke passionately about the challenges facing rural health.
The RHIhub is hosting a webinar with the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) on October 11 at 1:00 pm Central. Rural Insights on Adult and Youth Obesity, a National and Community-based Perspective is the second in this series of webinars exploring rural/urban differences in health issues. Featured speakers include:
A webinar was recently hosted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Closing the Gap between Urban and Rural HPV Vaccination Rates. The recording and transcript are available online.
Two new stories are available in the Rural Monitor:
There are also several new Models and Innovations:
Finally, two Topic Guides have been updated:
NOSORH committees are great focal points for engaging in many NOSORH initiatives. Descriptions of all committees and contact information can be found on the NOSORH website.
Board – During the September meeting, the Board heard plans of the Committee/Governance task force to assess Board expertise and to consider the Board Source recommended practices for non-profit Boards. These assessments will support the efforts to consider Board structure of the future. The Flex Committee Co-Chairs asked the Board to approve recommendations to update the Flex program for the future. The Board approved a budget for 2018-19 fiscal year and new policies on procurement, human trafficking and limited English proficiency.
Educational Exchange- The EE Committee met in September to discuss topics for future educational resources, review the results of the annual member survey, and receive an update on the SORH Proficiencies. On September 18th, co-chairs Natalie Claiborne (MT) and Alisa Druzba (NH) presented a webinar on completing the SORH Proficiencies self-assessment. The committee would like to thank Natalie and Alisa for their great work and encourage all SORH to complete the self-assessment. The Committee will host the next NOSORH 101 on Tuesday, October 2nd. Due to the NOSORH annual meeting, the committee will not meet in October. The next regular meeting of the committee will be Monday, November 19th at 3:00pm ET.
Executive Committee – The September meeting of the Committee included preparation for the NOSORH annual membership meeting, discussion of moving forward the strategic planning for 2018-19, and a brief on possible changes to personnel policies.
Flex Committee– The Flex Committee discussed what each program is doing with their new awards. Projects range from billing and coding workshops, to charge master reviews, to leadership education to revenue cycle management. The committee had a lengthy discussion about the need for board education and how Flex Programs are currently addressing the needs. The Flex Committee is scheduled to meet again on October 25 at 3 PM ET. Please contact Tammy (email@example.com) if you would like to join the Flex Committee and/or if you have potential agenda items.
Finance Committee – Policies for the investment of NOSORH reserve funds were considered by the Finance Committee during its September meeting. The committee will work with Edward Jones to identify NOSORH priorities for investment. The committee reviewed a proposed annual budget in preparation for recommendation to the Board. Thanks to Shannon Chambers (SC) who joined the Finance Committee this month after reading the request in the Branch newsletter in September.
JCREC- Considering some new input, the JCREC is postponing the release of the Stroke Center Designation position letter. The JCREC is also looking closely at pending legislation, especially with the upcoming elections. The committee is also in the process of reviewing an EMS Tactical Plan for the future. Plans are to release the report later this year.
Communications- The Communications Committee continued preparing for National Rural Health Day 2018. Committee members provided input on the NRHD breakout sessions at the NOSORH Annual Meeting and are currently creating video clips to promote NRHD Toolkit resources.
Policy Program Monitoring Team- The PPMT committee met in September to discuss the first draft of NOSORH comments on the proposed ACO regulations. Comments were filed with CMS on the physician fee schedule last month. The committee also explored issues related to the CMS Hospital Star system, the final NQF report, and were provided an update on state Medicaid litigation. The PPMT committee will meet again on Wednesday, October 24th at 3:00pm ET.
Shannon Chambers (SC), Robert Coble (NC) and Tammy Norville, NOSORH Technical Assistance Director, spoke to a standing-room only group at the NRHA 2018 RHC Conference in Kansas City, MO in late September. They spoke on how Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) might work with their State Office of Rural Health. Norville provided an overview and context of NOSORH and general SORH information including organizational structures, examples of services provided and National Rural Health Day.
Coble discussed the different programs within the North Carolina Office of Rural Health and how those programs work with RHCs and other rural safety-net providers. (As a side note – this was Robert’s first national presentation and he represented like a pro!)
Chambers brought the presentation full circle with her discussion of services provided to RHCs through the South Carolina Office of Rural Health (SC ORH). She discussed the outreach strategies SC ORH uses to encourage RHC participation, keeping them informed while protecting their inboxes from “overuse”.
The presentation slides can be found here.
Thanks to these presenters for their willingness to share their expertise and experience.
Last month, the State Offices of Rural Health and NOSORH were represented by Matt Strycker, NOSORH Program Manager, at the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO) Regional Meeting in Denver, Colorado. Strycker spoke on a panel with Ron Seedorf, Emergency Preparedness Manager at the Colorado Rural Health Center, about the work of SORHs and NOSORH, and how State Offices are leading the charge through the EMS Flex Supplemental funds they received.
With EMS officials and those on the ground taking the lead on the opioid crisis, representation at this meeting was quite timely. The session “A Rural EMS Story”, presented by Chris Beltz of Campbell County EMS in Wyoming, detailed how a failing EMS provider partnered with the Wyoming State Office of Rural Health and the Wyoming Office of Emergency Medical Services to do an assessment of Campbell County EMS. They set out key areas for improvement; personnel issues, overtime problems, building a partnership with their hospital, etc. They were able to go from losing money to making their hospital and Campbell County EMS almost one million dollars. This real-life success story highlighted the importance of building partnerships between EMS providers and the State Offices of Rural Health.
Input on an EMS Addendum to the Rural Hospital Closure Toolkit was collected at the meeting. This addendum will include information and resources on what EMS providers can do if their hospital has closed or if there is a threat of a hospital closure. If you have any information that you may be able to provide on the addendum, please contact Matt Strycker at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1-888-391-7258 ext. 102.
Not even a tropical storm could stop Region B from meeting in Pensacola, Florida, for the Region B SORH Partnership Meeting in September! Flooding, high winds, and rough seas were the perfect backdrop to show how valuable this meeting was for the eight states in attendance. There were many new faces for their first Regional Meeting and it was inspiring to see members reaching out and building new connections, offering help on upcoming grants, giving support for upcoming projects and identifying ways to collaborate across states.
Region B was also joined by Dr. Kathy Black, Ph.D. Principal Investigator, Age-Friendly Sarasota, Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar, and Professor at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, who gave a presentation titled: “Rural Health Alignment with Age – Friendly Communities.” This was the first region to have a speaker address the topic of aging in rural and the conversation made one thing clear; it was needed. Because of this, Dr. Black will be attending the NOSORH Annual Meeting in Cheyenne, WY this month to give a general session talk. NOSORH would like to thank the Florida State Office of Rural Health for hosting and we look forward to meeting in Georgia for the 2019 meeting.
For all of the presentation materials, please click here.
SORH staff from all 10 Region E states descended on Salt Lake City, Utah, for the Region E SORH Partnership Meeting in August. The planning committee was laser focused while building the agenda and made sure to include ample time for the SORH to have group discussions. The six topics covered in the group discussions included: RHC Work, Oral Health, Workforce/Recruitment, Running a SORH with Budget and Political Uncertainty, Opioid Discussion, and Communication and Information Dissemination. These robust discussions brought up many thought-provoking issues, and the SORHs more than helped each other throughout that time.
Region E was also joined by some familiar faces from Region C: John Barnas and Crystal Barter from the Michigan Center for Rural Health. They presented their session, “A SORH is Managing a State-Wide Clinically Integrated Network? It’s True!” Not only was it a much-needed session for the region, but it was also a perfect example of cross-regional partnership.
Next year, Region E will meet in the great state of Oregon. To access the meeting presentations, please click here.
There is still time to register for the Fall 2018 NOSORH Rural Health Data Institute. The Rural Health Data Institute (RHDI) is a set of eight 90-minute web-based sessions designed to establish a minimum data-use skill set for those working with rural health data. The sessions are designed for those with little or no knowledge of the data use process.
RHDI starts by throwing the term “research” out the window and defining terms in a way that everybody can understand. It moves through the process of collecting your data, cleaning it up, and analyzing it in a way that makes sense. Later sessions help participants work through the steps of crafting their messaging and displaying it in a visualized way so other people can understand it too. By doing very small “homework” assignments aligned to the data use process, participants will end the RHDI with a one-page infographic fact sheet to do whatever they want with it: hang on the fridge in the break room or, better yet, disseminate it to your partners!
More information on the RHDI can be found in the program brochure, here.
Register today by going to: https://regonline.com/RDI2018.
Registration opens: NOW
Registration closes: October 19, 2018
Access to course materials: October 24, 2018
Required introductory session: October 29, 2018
Institute starts: October 31, 2018
Institute ends: February 20, 2019
For more information on the Rural Health Data Institute, please contact Chris Salyers at email@example.com or (734) 881-9551.