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Statement from Tennessee Department of Health Concerning Children's Vaccines

The Tennessee Department of Health assures families across Tennessee that information and access to vaccinations for children through state health departments continues and there has been no disruption to these services.

While misinformation has been circulated regarding the status of these resources, parents who need information regarding routine childhood immunizations can find resources here. Parents seeking the COVID-19 vaccine for children 12+ can find additional information here.

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As Appalachian hospitals disappear, rural Americans grapple with limited care

Article is written by Taylor Sisk. Published on www.NationalGeographic.com July 14, 2021. We are sharing snippets and quotes from RHA of TN and National Rural Health Association. Please read full article here.

Hope amidst declining health care

Across the nation, 12 states have not yet adopted Medicaid expansion as allowed for under the Affordable Care Act. None of the eight states with the most rural hospital closures has implemented expansions. (Voters in two of those states, Missouri and Oklahoma, last year approved ballot measures to expand.)

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Department of Labor Recognizes RHA of TN Apprenticeship Program

Rural Health Association of Tennessee (RHA of TN) is proud to have recently received approval as a registered Apprenticeship Program by the United States Department of Labor and a pre-Apprenticeship program by Tennessee Department of Labor.

This spring RHA of TN worked with West Tennessee Healthcare to register an apprenticeship program for Patient Care Tech/Nursing Assistant roles. Apprenticeships are paid on-the-job work experiences paired with mentoring over the course of 2000 hours. When requirements of the program are met, apprentices receive a nationally recognized certificate in their field.

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HHS Provider Relief Fund Reporting Requests

NRHA sent to Secretary Xavier Becerra a letter regarding the HHS CARES Provider Relief Fund.

In it, NRHA reiterates our ongoing concerns (already shared with HHS on numerous occasions) about the implementation of the Provider Relief Funds, as well as the newly created Health Care Heroes Sustainability Fund.  We urge Secretary Becerra to make critical changes to this program in order to support rural provider across America.  NRHA will keep you all up to date on a response or other activity from the Department on this issue. 

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United States Hepatitis Academic Mentorship Program

The US-HAMP (United States Hepatitis Academic Mentorship Program), a program of the Kentucky Rural Health Association would like to invite you to the US-HAMP Summit on July 27, 2021. This will be a virtual event for Key State Leaders.  Please refer to HAMP attachment for agenda/program about US-HAMP.

US-HAMP is a multi-state collaborative learning network to train key state leaders on the implementation of a successful HAMP model in an effort to empower primary care providers in their state to screen, diagnose, evaluate, treat, cure and report hepatitis C outcomes.  Current HAMP best practice will be discussed by state leaders in Kentucky and West Virginia.

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Call for Board Nominations

From RHA of TN's Past President of RHA of TN's Board of Directors 

I am excited to issue a call for nominations from our members that would like to serve on the Board of Directors. The board provides governance, direction, and oversight of the Association and its many programs, projects, and activities. There are several seats opening for the 2022 term year in each grand division.

Board positions are for a three-year term, with an option to renew for another three years after the conclusion of the first term. The commitment is relatively minimal with quarterly meetings / conference calls and occasional assistance on committees and projects. To be eligible, an individual must be a member in good standing and live in Tennessee.

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Educator Emotional Support Video Series for Teachers

Last week, the Tennessee Department of Education released the Educator Emotional Support Video Series to  provide free, optional resources to support the mental health of Tennessee educators, created in partnership with statewide partners. 

In support of Teacher Appreciation Month and Mental Health Awareness Month this May, the video series provides guidance, resources, and interactive activities by two licensed clinical social workers focusing on the mental health of Tennessee educators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Spring 2021 Leadership Academy

Rural Health Association of Tennessee is proud to announce the inaugural class of the Rural Health Leadership Academy! The below individuals were selected for their commitment to rural health and their desire to grow as leaders.

The academy will be led by Dr. Bill Auxier, Executive Coach, CEO and President of Dynamic Leadership Academy, and Executive Director of Rural Health Leadership Radio. Over the course of 10-weeks participants will complete a variety of in-person, on-demand, and group learning modules, earning a certificate in Rural Health Leadership.

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How an $8.5 billion federal COVID-19 relief package could help rural hospitals in the South

The below article written by Maria Clark, published in the Tennessean March 24th discusses the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package executed on March 11th that includes $8.5 billion in funding set aside for rural health providers. 

The article quotes representatives from the National Rural Health Association and Rural Health Association of Tennessee. (Read article here)

Senator Briggs Discusses Mental Health Parity with Rural Health Leaders

Senator Briggs spoke to Rural Health Association of Tennessee leaders on the Mental Health Parity Legislation (SB151) he sponsored in the 112th General Assembly and how the bill supports rural hospitals, providers, and clinics.

2021 State Rural Health Policy Issues

Your Voice. Louder.

We are excited to introduce a new tool for Rural Health Advocates to connect with their state and federal legislators on issues important to improving health and access to care in rural Tennessee.

Visit our Action Center to compose and send a message to your state legislator. On the Action Center Page, click on the "Bills" tab to see the list of bills RHA of TN is following, whether we support or oppose, and link to more information such as who is sponsoring the bill, where it is in committee, and to view the bill in it's entirety.

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CMS Increases Medicare Payment for Life-Saving COVID-19 Vaccine

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it is increasing the Medicare payment amount for administering the COVID-19 vaccine. This rate reflects new information about the costs involved in administering the COVID-19 vaccine for different types of providers and suppliers, and the additional resources necessary to ensure the vaccine is administered safely and appropriately. Effective March 15, 2021, the national average payment rate for physicians, hospitals, pharmacies and many other immunizers will be increased to $40 to administer each dose of any COVID-19 vaccine.  The updated payment rate for administration for each dose of any COVID-19 vaccine will be geographically adjusted and the exact rate will depend on the type of entity that furnishes the service.

The press release is attached and available here: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/biden-harris-administration-increases-medicare-payment-life-saving-covid-19-vaccine

Amerigroup donations benefit two West Tennessee organizations

The Rural Health Association of Tennessee in Decaturville received $20,000 for their workforce apprenticeship program, the release says. The program helps build relationships with rural healthcare facilities and educational institutions.

 Read full article: https://www.wbbjtv.com/2021/03/10/amerigroup-donations-benefit-two-west-tennessee-organizations/ 

COVID-19 relief package includes rural provisions

President Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. Thanks to the advocacy of NRHA, Rural Health Association of Tennessee, and its members, the package includes a number of provisions to protect and promote rural health.

Most notably, we have secured the infusion of $8.5 billion for rural providers, a key provision which NRHA worked closely with Senator Manchin's office on. The $8.5 billion for rural providers will be provided through a fund called the Health Care Heroes Sustainability Fund (HCHSF), which will be similar to the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) but specific to rural providers. After months of advocacy, NRHA and its members are proud to have secured this much-needed relief on behalf of rural providers. 

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Nursing Students Take the Field - Featuring Milan Highschool

Milan High School in West Tennessee began the school year in-person in August of 2020. It felt like a relief to resume some normalcy after the school had closed its doors in March due to COVID-19. Amid the modifications necessary to conduct safe in-person learning was the need for clinical interns in the Health Science program to stay on school grounds.

Local health care facilities restricted access. The fourth-year nursing students had anticipated the internships. Instructor Amy Watson began to search for a project that would give the students a learning experience and still operate within the scope of restrictions and safety requirements.

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TennCare III Shared Savings Quality Measures Protocols

From Division of TennCare: 

Providing high-quality care and supporting TennCare members to improve their health is a longstanding primary objective of the TennCare program. The TennCare III Demonstration waiver agreement certainly prioritizes this goal by directly tying any potential shared savings the state might achieve to maintaining or improving quality of care as measured by a set of quality performance measures. As valued partners and providers in the TennCare program, we wanted to update you on the selection of these measures.

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New RHA of TN Staff!

Director of Membership - West Tennessee - Allica Austin achieved an MBA from Liberty University and BS from the University of Tennessee at Martin. She was recruited from her undergraduate internship to help launch employee health initiatives at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where she moved into roles focused on prevention and reducing chronic diseases. She has articles published focusing on implementing clinical care algorithms and research involving exercise physiology and reduction of long-term cancer side-effects. After hurricane Harvey she returned back to Tennessee to assist in the care if her father and continues to pursue her desire to assist in the reduction of disease in her home state of Tennessee.  Allica will be the project director for the Delta Apprenticeship grant and will support members in West Tennessee.

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Thank You for Supporting 340B Drug Discount Program!

Rural Health Association of Tennessee would like to thank the below Tennessee Representatives for supporting the 340B Drug Discount program by signing a letter to Acting Secretary Cochran of the Department of Health and Human Services. This bi-partisan effort asks HHS to take immediate action to ensure that drug manufacturers are prohibited from imposing unilateral changes to the program in direct conflict with congressional intent and decades of written guidance. Read the full letter here.

  • Representative Tim Burchett
  • Representative Steve Cohen
  • Representative Jim Cooper
  • Representative Chuck Fleischmann
  • Representative Diana Harshbarger
  • Representative David Kustoff

TennCare EHR Incentive News

With the arrival of March, now only one month remains for providers to attest for Program Year 2020. This issue again includes guidance providers can use to attest for Program Year 2020 and look ahead to attesting for 2021 later this year. Read here.

Should you have questions about what you read in this newsletter, or have suggestions for the newsletter, please write to us at [email protected].

2021 Federal Advocacy Agenda

February 9-11th, 2021 a delegation of 19 Rural Health Association of Tennessee Members and affiliates attended National Rural Health Association's Policy Institute. We welcome you to contact your federal legislators to share your experience and insight explaining the need to fund rural programs, providers, and facilities. See below for resources. If you would like to participate in upcoming state advocacy events, please email [email protected] 

National Rural Health Association 2021 Policy Document

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