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Rural News

Telehealth changes will increase rural broadband demand

Daily Yonder | Posted on January 24, 2019

Several policy changes from Washington, D.C., should accelerate urban and rural telehealth deployments. On November 1 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the body that manages these two healthcare programs, finalized new rules that include payment reimbursements for telehealth.   These changes are good news for communities that want broadband to help expand access to healthcare. They will also be welcomed who hope that expanded use of telehealth will increase the number of broadband subscribers. Currently, telehealth service isn’t covered by Medicare and Medicaid in many rural homes, and they don’t reimburse telehealth at all in urban areas.  One of the major telehealth benefits is that it enables people to stay at work or home and have electronic doctor “house calls.” Medicaid and Medicare, as a guard against fraud, required patients to get telehealth treatments at a healthcare provider’s facility. Many private-sector insurers take their cues from Medicaid and Medicare as to what healthcare services they reimburse. Altogether, this has stifled telehealth adoption. 


Clean energy jobs dominate in Midwest

Daily Yonder | Posted on January 24, 2019

Jobs in the renewable-energy sector are a bright spot in the rural economy, according to the report from an environmental advocacy group. Jobs are growing in the clean-energy sector more quickly than in any part of the rural economy.The deployment of clean energy is a major economic engine for the rural Midwest, eclipsing fossil fuel jobs in most states, according to a new report released by an environmental advocacy nonprofit. 


Rural Hospitals in Greater Jeopardy in Non-Medicaid Expansion States

Pew Trust | Posted on January 24, 2019

In December, two nearby hospitals, one almost 40 miles away, the other 60 miles away, closed their doors for good. The closings were the latest in a trend that has seen 21 rural hospitals across Texas shuttered in the past six years, leaving 160 still operating.Lyle, who is CEO, can’t help wondering whether his Falls Community Hospital will be next.“Most assuredly,” he replied when asked whether he could envision his central Texas hospital going under. “We’re not using our reserves yet, but I can see them from here.”It’s not just Texas: Nearly a hundred rural hospitals in the United States have closed since 2010, according to the Center for Health Services Research at UNC Chapel Hill. Another 600-plus rural hospitals are at risk of closing, according to an oft-cited 2016 report by iVantage Health Analytics. Texas had the most hospitals in danger of closing (75), the health metrics firm said. And Mississippi had the largest share of hospitals at risk (79 percent).Neither state has expanded Medicaid eligibility to more of its low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In fact, the closures and at-risk hospitals are heavily clustered in the 14 states that have not expanded.Those state decisions not to expand have deprived rural hospitals, which already operate with the slimmest of margins, of resources that could be the difference between survival and closure.


Housing program helps workers find homes in rural Nebraska

Sioux City Journal | Posted on January 24, 2019

A couple in northeast Nebraska is the first to find housing through the state's rural housing program, which aims to help rural communities increase housing opportunities to better retain workers.The state's $7 million Rural Workforce Housing Fund gives nonprofit development organizations matching grants to construct or rehabilitate housing in rural parts of the state. The goal is to create housing options for middle-income workers who don't qualify for other housing assistance programs but don't have enough for a down payment.


NC Attorney General approves sales of rural hopstials with added protections

Daily Yonder | Posted on January 24, 2019

Advocates pushed for provisions in the deal that would promise continued healthcare in smaller communities. They're heartened to see their efforts seem to have worked.


The drug epidemic that began with a corporate marketing plan

Daily Yonder | Posted on January 23, 2019

Beth Macy’s book about the opioid crisis in southwest Virginia contains plenty of tragedy — families decimated, lives lost or ruined, proud communities brought to their knees.   The biggest tragedy of all, of course, is that the story could have turned out differently.In the earliest days of the crisis, prophetic voices in rural Virginia sounded the alarm. The pharmaceutical manufacturer whose criminal marketing practices helped launch the epidemic didn’t listen. Nor did federal regulators, until the genie was out of the bottle.Macy traces the epidemic from the coalfields of Appalachia to the affluent suburbs and small towns of the Shenandoah Valley. Her role as a working journalist based in the region gave her access to the people who know the story — addicts and their families, dealers, law enforcement, medical professionals, and community activists. Her skill as a reporter and writer combine to give the reader a direct connection to the crisis and its human cost.


Fescue, Florence and a Fresh Start

Hay & Forage | Posted on January 23, 2019

“We knew we were in trouble. There was nothing to feed the cows.” That was how cattleman Buron Lanier, Burgaw, N.C., described his feelings after the floodwaters of Hurricane Florence, which were 5-feet deep over a significant chunk of his acreage, receded from his farm last September. “After three days of pounding by Florence, we had 130 acres of totally submerged pastureland,” Lanier said. “When the storm hit, much of our fescue was being prepared for winter stockpiling. We also had our cows calving about that same time,” he added.Once the water receded after two days, Lanier was disheartened to learn that his fields were dead. Such was also true of most vegetation in the area, including fields of Kentucky 31. Thirty three inches of rain fell inSeptember alone.


Maryland Governor's budget includes historic funding for rural communities

The Garrett County Republican | Posted on January 23, 2019

Governor Larry Hogan has announced several items in the administration’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget. Included is level funding support for the Rural Maryland Council (RMC), Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund (RMPIF) and the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF). The Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund is included in the budget for $ 6 million for targeted investment to promote economic prosperity in Maryland’s traditionally disadvantaged and underserved rural communities by sustaining efforts to promote rural regional cooperation, facilitating entrepreneurial activities and supporting key community colleges and nonprofit providers.In Fiscal Year 2019, RMPIF also received $6 million in funding. Since Fiscal Year 2017, funds for RMPIF have been included in the State’s Operating budget.For Fiscal Year 2019, 36 grants were distributed to 33 organizations throughout the State.


Why bulldoze one of the wildest places on Earth?

High Country News | Posted on January 22, 2019

For six decades, the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, tucked along the coast of the Bering Sea, has been protected as one of the wildest nature spots on Earth, remote enough to escape development. But that isolation has been shattered. Seven noisy helicopters swooped down 80 times over two days in July to land on the narrow isthmus where animals nest, feed and migrate. Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, prodded by President Donald Trump, ordered the surprise helicopter survey to prepare to bulldoze a 12-mile road through the refuge’s federally protected wilderness.Almost a year ago, on a day that the federal government was briefly shut down, Zinke quietly signed a land swap, evading Congress, which has wrestled with the issue for decades. The Interior Department is trading the swath of Izembek’s wilderness to Aleut Natives so their cannery town of King Cove can build the final 12 miles of a 37-mile gravel road to the Cold Bay Airport. In exchange, the federal government gets an equal amount of Aleut land.In crafting the deal, Zinke rejected the warnings of his department’s scientists. After a four-year study, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the refuge, concluded that allowing a road through the refuge would “lead to significant degradation of irreplaceable ecological resources.” It also would jeopardize the global survival of a migratory sea goose, called the Pacific black brant, as well as the emperor goose and other waterfowl, the agency said.


More animal species under threat of extinction, new method shows

Science Daily | Posted on January 22, 2019

Currently approximately 600 species might be inaccurately assessed as non-threatened on the Red List of Threatened Species. More than a hundred others that couldn't be assessed before, also appear to be threatened. A new more efficient, systematic and comprehensive approach to assess the extinction risk of animals has shown this.


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