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Rural News

Pace of U.S. Health Spending Increased in 2015, With Further Rise Expected

Wall Street Journal | Posted on July 14, 2016

Growth in U.S. health-care spending quickened slightly in 2015 and will continue to rise at a moderate pace over the next decade, but not at the fast clip seen in the 20-year period before the recession, federal actuaries said. Spending on all health care is estimated to have grown 5.5% in 2015 compared with 5.3% growth the previous year. Growth is expected to dip to a slightly lower rate of 4.8% in 2016, according to actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Their report, published in the journal Health Affairs, projects spending growth will reach 6% in 2025.  The pickup in the past two years follows five consecutive years in which average spending growth through 2013 was less than 4% annually, the lowest rates since the government began tracking health-care spending in the 1960s.

Wild hogs can now be shot from helicopters in North Carolina

The Charlotte Observer | Posted on July 14, 2016

Now wild hogs can be culled by aircraft in North Carolina — provided they are shot by federal or state wildlife control officers.  The 2016 North Carolina Farm Act, which lawmakers passed July 1, contains two sentences making the change.

A look at how and why North Dakota became a leader in deployment of fiber optic Internet

CSG Midwest | Posted on July 7, 2016

A fiber optic connection is considered the “gold standard” for quality, high-speed Internet access, and in the Midwest, it’s in pretty short supply. Except in North Dakota. In the region’s most sparsely populated state, 60 percent of the households, including those on farms in far-flung areas, have fiber. (That compares to 24 percent in the Midwest, where most of the existing fiber networks serve urban areas.) In all, North Dakota ranks fifth in the nation in fiber access. This is amazing enough, considering many of the obstacles typically cited as responsible for the dearth of high-speed technologies in rural parts of the Midwest — for example, the high costs of serving low-density areas.  But the story of North Dakota’s prominence in fiber access is also a testament to entrepreneurship in the nation’s heartland, and perhaps a model for the rest of the Midwest.

Kansas extends ‘angel investor’ tax credit; North Dakota mulls changes to its program

CSG Midwest | Posted on July 7, 2016

Lawmakers in two Midwestern states have given close scrutiny in recent months to a targeted tax credit that has become an increasingly popular policy tool for trying to help entrepreneurs and startup companies. Known as “angel investor” tax credits, these incentives encourage investment in early-stage firms by mitigating some of the potential loss if a company fails. Most states in the Midwest have some form of this tax credit. Kansas’ 11-year-old program was on track to sunset this year, but passage of SB 149 extended it for five years. As a result, individuals can receive a tax credit of 50 percent on their investment in a business that has been in operation for less than 10 years; has gross revenue of less than $5 million; and has an innovative and proprietary technology, product or service.

The Fourth of July, Brought to You by Belgium, Brazil and China

Bloomberg | Posted on July 7, 2016

The Fourth of July is coming up. What could be more American than to pop a cold Budweiser, put a hot dog on the grill, slather it with Heinz ketchup, watch the kids chase the Good Humor Ice Cream truck, and maybe catch the latest summer blockbuster?  Well, technically, you'd be drinking a beer owned by a Brazilian-Belgian conglomerate, your hot dog may well have come from Smithfield Foods, a Chinese-owned company, the Heinz ketchup partly owned by a Brazilain private equity group, the Good Humor Ice Cream truck part of a British-Dutch conglomerate, and the movie house you visit will likely belong to Dalian Wanda, a Chinese real estate giant that controls more U.S cinema screens than any American company.

The True Cost of Rural Hospital Closures

Daily Yonder | Posted on July 7, 2016

After 66 years in business, my hometown hospital recently closed its doors to patients. Gone is the emergency room, skilled nursing facility, lab, radiology, and physical therapy services — as well as 67 full-time jobs.  Meanwhile, in the past six years. 72 rural hospitals in the U.S. have closed, including nine already in 2016.  One in three rural hospitals is at risk of closing, and according to the National Rural Health Association’s Journal of Rural Health, closure rates have increased 600 percent in the put five years.

Across the country, small towns are literally losing their lifelines. What gets lost in this story is what these closures mean lot the towns whose hospitals are shuttered. Sure. It’s obvious that jobs, public safety and community institutions are at stake. But what are we really doing by letting that institutions die? Where is this all going?  The first loss is a sense of safety and security, one that is backed up by hard evidence. A 2014 study in Health Affairs showed that the death rates for patients in towns where the ER recently closed increased 5 percent across the board and 15 percent when patients had a heart attack or stroke.

Broadband Access: We are all in the middle of somewhere

Daily Yonder | Posted on July 7, 2016

Fast Internet access is the critical element in building healthier rural economies that create opportunity and improve quality of life. Here are some ways to get your community focused on the need for speed. Lack of Leadership is a deal breaker. Transitioning to the digital age implies change, and many rural communities are not thrilled about change. It is critical to have at least one trusted local champion. The local champion or champions should introduce the concept and work with the community to drive the efforts. [USDA] Extension [Service] and other partners should step in when needed to educate and support, but the community should be the driver.In my experience, rural communities have recruited and/or partnered with local champions in different ways. In some, the mayor is the main driving force. In others, it is the local chamber of commerce or economic developer. Extension personnel have served as the main change agents in other communities. One rural community even formed an “intelligent community” council consisting of five to eight community leaders. If the will and motivation exist, ways to get things done will be found.

Farmers, Fisherman have highest suicide rates

Agri-Pulse | Posted on July 7, 2016

Farmers, lumberjacks and fishermen have the highest suicide rate in the U.S., while librarians and educators have the lowest, according to a large study that found enormous differences across occupations. The study didn't explore the reasons behind the differences, but researchers found the highest suicide rates in manual laborers who work in isolation and face unsteady employment. High rates were also seen in carpenters, miners, electricians and people who work in construction. Mechanics were close behind. Dentists, doctors and other health care professionals had an 80 percent lower suicide rate than the farmers, fishermen and lumberjacks. Suicide is the nation's 10th leading cause of death. Public attention often focuses on teens and college students, but the highest numbers and rates are in middle-aged adults. Suicide is far more common in males, and the rankings largely reflect the male suicide rates for each group.

After the Flood

DTN | Posted on July 7, 2016

Larry Winkelmann has never seen flooding like he has seen this spring. The 68-year-old cow/calf producer from Burton, Texas, located halfway between Houston and Austin, saw about 400 acres of his grassland under water earlier this month. Flooding has been an issue in the region for several months now. Corrie Bowen, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Wharton County, said heavy rains in mid-April caused the Colorado and San Bernard Rivers in his county to flow out of their banks.

Crops along those rivers were destroyed and livestock in these areas had to be moved. Wharton Livestock Auction Barn provided their facility as a large animal shelter for horse and cattle owners needing a place to relocate their animals out of potentially flooded areas, he said. Then another roughly 20 inches of rain fell in the Brenham area around Memorial Day, which flooded the Brazos River and created flooding downstream into Fort Bend and Brazoria counties. Brazoria County just began staging down livestock relief efforts in late June, he said.

Michigan appeals court finds in favor of Dr. Pol

dvm360 | Posted on July 7, 2016

Disciplinary action taken against Jan Pol, DVM, star of Nat Geo Wild'sThe Incredible Dr. Pol, by the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Association (LARA), in regard to an administrative complaint filed against him in 2014, has been overturned on appeal. The Michigan Court of Appeals found 3-0 in favor of Pol, overturning the $500 fine and year probation.  The complaint, filed by Eden Myers, DVM, who was concerned about the treatment of a patient featured on the television show, resulted in charges of negligence and incompetence at the administrative hearing. The patient in question, a Boston terrier named Mr. Pigglesworth, had been hit by a car and suffered from lacerations, a broken pelvis and an eye that was hanging from the socket.

During surgery to remove the eye, suture the eye socket closed and suture a cheek laceration, Pol didn't wear sterile surgical attire, according to Myers’ complaint. Also at issue was the fact that Pol’s unlicensed son, Charles, assisted in the surgery and that Pol did not provide intravenous therapy to the dog during the surgical procedure or a warming support in the dog’s postoperative kennel, according to the complaint.