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Rural News

Rural hospitals more likely to be unrated

Daily Yonder | Posted on July 6, 2017

Rural hospitals are nearly three times more likely than urban hospitals to lack a rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. That could lead to consumer confusion about the quality of care those facilities offer, UNC researchers say.

Ohio governor calls out his party’s attempt to buy off moderates with ‘anemic’ opioid funds

Think Progress | Posted on July 6, 2017

On Sunday, Gov. John Kasich dismissed the $45 billion fund for opioid treatment that some Republicans have floated as a potential “sweetener” for moderates as completely insufficient to address the problem.But according to Kasich, that amount would not come close to solving the problem. “That would give me a billion over ten years? Not even quite that. It’s anemic. As I said to Senator Portman at one point, it’s like spitting in the ocean. It’s not enough.”Kasich added that while he doesn’t like having to speak out against his own party’s leaders, this is an example of “efforts to try to buy people off.”“They’ll throw big high numbers, but they won’t understand the impact on the program,” he predicted.

Don't Cut a Vital Lifeline for Rural Children

American Academy of Pediatrics | Posted on July 5, 2017

A report released recently by Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the University of North Carolina Rural Health Research Project, Medicaid in Small Town America: A Lifeline for Children, Families and Communities, confirms what many of us who care for patients in rural areas suspected: Children and families in small towns and rural areas rely on Medicaid for health coverage, and cuts to Medicaid could be devastating for rural America.In Texas, 46 percent of children in rural areas and small towns are enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), compared to 41 percent in urban areas. Across the country those numbers are similar: 45 percent of children in rural areas and small towns receive health coverage through Medicaid, compared to 38 percent of children in urban areas.  One promising finding from the report is that since the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the rate of uninsured adults in rural areas has dropped from 35 percent to 29 percent in Texas.   At the same time, the rate of uninsured children in those areas dropped from 18 percent to 11 percent. Gains for adults were even greater in states that expanded Medicaid.Nationally, the researchers found a direct connection between increases in Medicaid and CHIP coverage and reductions in the rate of uninsured children in small towns and rural areas. Because of these gains, there are currently more children in the United States with health coverage than at any other time in history.

Michigan state officials want hunters to help control bovine tuberculosis

Michigan Public Radio | Posted on July 5, 2017

State officials want hunters to shoot more deer in northeastern lower Michigan. Infected deer in the area spread a disease called bovine tuberculosis. It can kill cows, and it can be passed to people through unpasteurized dairy products.The state has already spent more than $150 million trying to eradicate the disease over the past two decades. But rates of bovine TB have spiked among the deer population in recent years, and several cattle herds have been newly infected. In April 2015, Jeremy Werth got the phone call that every dairy farmer in this area dreads. Werth runs a farm with his father and brother about 20 minutes west of Alpena.A state veterinarian was on the line telling him that some of his cows were infected with bovine tuberculosis.It was a shock to Werth.“There were no signs of tuberculosis,” he says. “Healthy as horses. They were just going about their daily routine and had no clue of any signs of infection of tuberculosis at all.”Werth’s family has been here long enough that there’s a road named after them - Werth Road - just east of the farm.About 80 of Werth’s 600 animals tested positive for TB.

Rural America’s image problem

Hagstrom Report | Posted on June 29, 2017

Over the past several weeks, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Washington Post have all published articles that collectively portray rural Americans as culturally alienated from urban America— either unemployed or working in such dangerous jobs that they are in pain and turn to drugs, or at least cigarettes, for relief. Many articles have also pointed out that rural Americans expressed their frustration by voting for President Trump in the highest percentages in the country. That image may help members of Congress seek more government assistance for their constituents in everything from health care to high-speed internet service, but it’s terrible for attracting private investment and encouraging young people to stay where they grew up. It will be hard for any government interventions to counter the idea that rural America is loser territory

The Vaccine that Could Halt the Opioid Epidemic

Foundation for Biomedical Research | Posted on June 29, 2017

Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University recently published a study that could be game-changing in the treatment of opioid-dependent patients. Working with rhesus macaque monkeys, researchers developed a vaccine that was effective in blocking the high of heroin, which, they believe, could prevent drug use relapse when administered to recovering addicts. Why were monkeys part of the study?Rhesus monkeys are arguably the most similar to humans, said the study’s first author Paul Bremer. “Because the immunological, pharmacological and behavioral effects of the vaccine—in relation to heroin use—have now been established in monkeys, these effects would likely be similar in humans with the implication that the vaccine could be effective in mitigating heroin abuse.”

Senate health care bill called Anti-Rural

Daily Yonder | Posted on June 29, 2017

The head of the National Rural Health Association said the organization will oppose the Senate’s healthcare bill because the legislation will hurt rural America. “In its current form, this bill is anti-rural,” said Alan Morgan, NRHA chief executive officer.The bill, named the Better Care Reconciliation Act, contains several provisions that would hit especially hard in rural areas, Morgan said.Among these are deep cuts in Medicaid spending and an end to Medicaid expansion. About 45 percent of rural children use Medicaid, compared with 38 percent in metropolitan areas, according to a Georgetown University study.The bill would reduce funding for treatment of opioid addiction, another issue for rural America. The rate of opioid overdose deaths is 45 percent higher in nonmetropolitan counties, according to NHRA. The Senate bill provides $2 billion to fight opioid addiction in 2018, while the House version of the bill, called the America Health Care Act, provides $45 billion over 10 years.“They actually found a way to make the House bill worse,” Morgan said. “You really had to work to do that.”

New AL House committee created for urban and rural development

WSFA | Posted on June 29, 2017

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-House District 25, announced Monday the creation of the House Urban and Rural Development Committee.According to McCutcheon, the committee will focus its attention on the unique issues that impact Alabama’s rural and urban communities while working to combat the pockets of poverty that exist across the state.The committee could consider legislative topics like broadband access, infrastructure and development and other factors contributing to impoverished areas, McCutcheon said.Rep. Randall Shedd, R-Cullman, will chair the committee. 

Beyond Urban Versus Rural

University of New Hampshire, Carsey School | Posted on June 29, 2017

In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, commentators focused on the political polarization separating residents of urban and rural America. Certainly rural–urban differences are only one of several factors that contributed to the surprising 2016 outcome, but rural voters are rightly acknowledged as one key factor in Donald Trump’s electoral success. Yet, defining 2016 as the tale of two Americas—one urban, one rural—hinders a nuanced understanding of the country’s political geography. Many political commentators mistakenly caricature rural America as a single entity, but our research summarized here shows that complex variations in voting patterns persist among both urban and rural places.1 Rural America is a remarkably diverse collection of places including more than 70 percent of the land area of the United States and 46 million people.2Both demographic and voting trends in this vast area are far from monolithic. Here we examine voting patterns over the last five presidential elections, treating rural–urban differences as a continuum, not a dichotomy. 

A pair of decades old policies may change the way rural America gets local news

Daily Yonder | Posted on June 29, 2017

Two decades-old rules – called by policymakers the “main studio rule” and the “UHF discount” – come from different eras of broadcasting, one when the only electronic media was radio and the other from the days before the dominance of cable television. They also come from a different era of government, when policymakers promoted the principle of localism – the belief that local broadcasters should serve their communities.  By 1987, it was clear that people didn’t often visit stations, but rather called or sent letters. As a result, the FCC allowed stations to locate their studios anywhere the station’s signal could be clearly received.At the same time, the FCC also removed the rule requiring stations to produce local programming – though they remained able to do so, because they were still required to maintain production and transmission equipment in their studios. In 1998, the FCC let stations move even farther away from their audiences.In April 2017, the FCC proposed doing away with the rule altogether. In its proposal, the FCC noted telephones, email and social media mean listeners don’t need to be physically nearby to communicate with station management.As a result, the FCC said, it was unnecessarily burdensome to force broadcasting companies to maintain local studios even somewhat near the communities they serve. This continues the ongoing policy shift from a focus on connections to the local community, and toward benefiting broadcasters’ business operations and profit margins.That can cause problems, and not just because small communities that used to have local newsrooms may become afterthoughts for reporters and editors in centralized regional hubs. A deadly example happened in January 2002: One person died and a thousand were injured when a freight train derailed, releasing clouds of poisonous gas over Minot, the fourth-largest city in North Dakota. The residents weren’t warned of the danger for hours. Local authorities had technical problems with an automated emergency alert system, and there was no one at the designated radio station to simply cut into the broadcast on a studio microphone and tell listeners what was happening. The second decades-old rule the FCC wants to repeal would complicate matters further by allowing media companies to own even more TV stations across the country.