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Interview: Can Tennessee Improve Its Rural Healthcare System?

From WUOT 91.9 Knoxville: 

More than a quarter of Tennessee counties don’t have a hospital and a fifth don’t even have an emergency facility, though they may have an ambulance service. When a hospital closes or there's no hospital at all, rural economies suffer. It's impossible to recruit businesses and to keep employers, residents, and retirees in the area. The communities impacted by all of this are disproportionately made up of the uninsured, the elderly, the chronically ill, and those living in poverty.

WUOT's Chrissy Keuper spoke with members of state agencies, nonprofits, and social justice advocacy about what the present and future look like for healthcare in Tennessee’s rural counties.

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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.

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

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

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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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

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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Workforce Development, Health Equity, and Rural Tennessee

Assistant Commissioner Kenyatta Lovett, PhD, Workforce Services, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development

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Commissioner Piercey Talks COVID Testing and Vaccine

 

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Deputy Commissioner Smith talks COVID and Medicaid

Commissioner Schwinn COVID and Education

Deputy Commissioner Yancey talks Mental Health, COVID, and Rural Tennessee