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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.

Covid-19: CMS Increases Medicare Payment for Covid-19 Vaccine

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently increased the Medicare payment rate for COVID-19 Vaccine Administration. Effective March 15, 2021, CMS increased the average COVID-19 vaccine administration rate to $40 per vaccine dose.

More information about the CMS COVID-19 vaccine administration payment can be found at: https://www.cms.gov/medicare/covid-19/medicare-covid-19-vaccine-shot-payment.

Covid-19: TennCare Providers Reimbursements

TennCare’s Managed Care Contractors will be reimbursing TennCare providers for COVID-19 vaccine administration at the average CMS rate of $40 per vaccine dose.

TennCare also encourages all TennCare providers to visit the TN Department of Health’s website to learn more about how to become a COVID-19 vaccine provider at: https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov/covid-19-vaccine-information-for-healthcare-providers.html

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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Customizable Communications Toolkit for Rural Hospitals and Clinics

The National Rural Health Resource Center has release a toolkit full of temples to educate your patients, build trust and confidence in your rural hospital and clinic and communicate services. Need help? Contact [email protected]

NRHRC Toolkit Users Guide

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Updated the List of Reportable Codes for Drug Overdose Reporting (DOR)

Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) has Updated the List of Reportable Codes for Drug Overdose Reporting (DOR)

Effective January 3rd 2021, the Drug Overdose Reporting (DOR) List of Reportable Diagnosis codes was updated to include new Opioid-related ICD-10-CM codes. This update reflected changes made as a result of the ICD-10-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee for federal fiscal year 2021. The T40.4X[1-4] coding structure for synthetic narcotics of unintentional, intentional self-harm, assault, and undetermined intent were revised. The changes allow for more specific reporting of drug overdoses involving synthetic opioids for initial and subsequent encounters. In particular, it allows the TDH to identify drug overdoses involving fentanyl, which has become more important to understand as overdoses involving fentanyl have increased rapidly in the last five years. Please ensure that your hospital is including the new codes when reporting drug overdoses to TDH. For more information and to obtain the full List of Reportable Diagnosis codes see the TDH Drug Overdose Reporting website. The new ICD-10-CM codes are indicated with an asterisk.

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Press Release: Rural Health Association of Tennessee Announces New Board Members

Rural Health Association of Tennessee announced the election results for two new additions to the board of directors: Alicia Calloway, Chief Operating Officer of OPYS Physician Services and Barry Cooper, Executive Director of JACOA.

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2021 Tennessee Reportable Disease List

The 2021 List of Reportable Diseases in Tennessee, effective January 1, 2021, can be found at the following link: https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/reportable-diseases.html. Included are the list of reportable diseases and guidance for healthcare providers and laboratories regarding reporting requirements. Important changes in 2021 include:

Healthcare Providers/Facilities Only:

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Interview: Rural Health Leadership Radio

Executive Director, Jacy Warrell, talks with Dr. Bill Auxier, host of Rural Health Leadership Radio. Subscribe to Rural Health Leadership Radio at https://rhlradio.com

Volunteer Tennessee New Tools

Volunteer Tennessee, the state commission on national and community service, has established the Tennessee Serves Network to engage more Tennesseans in volunteer service. The network is a statewide collaboration of volunteer centers dedicated to bringing people and community together through an online volunteer portal.

And, now your organization can engage potential volunteers through this statewide system for free! Please click here for more information and learn how to register for an account. You can also contact Shannon Duke, Volunteerism & Training Manager at 615-253-8585 or [email protected] for more information.

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2020 Photo Contest Winners

Thank you to everyone who submitted and voted on photos at our annual conference last November! Below are the winners of the Color and Black & White photo categories, as well as the 1st and 2nd runner up.

Black & White Photo Winner
"Linville Gorge" by Heather Newman, ETSU Rural Primary Care Track


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