NCMS Morning Rounds 11-21-19

Enjoy your Thursday NCMS Morning Rounds.

Nov. 21, 2019

Today is National Rural Health Day

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health sets aside the third Thursday of every November – that’s today — to celebrate National Rural Health Day. This is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the “Power of Rural”, raising awareness of the unique health care challenges rural citizens face and showcasing the efforts of rural health care providers, State Offices of Rural Health and other rural stakeholders to address those challenges. Learn more about this national celebration, and its motto, which is ‘It’s not just a day; it’s a movement.”

To gain a fuller appreciation of what the challenges and rewards of practicing medicine in a rural community are, watch this documentary “The Providers,” available today. Scroll down at this link to see a preview.

The NCMS has long been committed to improving access to care particularly in rural areas. Our Community Practitioner Program, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, places physicians, physician assistants and other health care providers in underserved communities throughout North Carolina in exchange for help in paying off education loans. Since the program’s inception, more than 435 primary care clinicians have been assisted, approximately $425 million in care to under- and uninsured patients has been delivered in 242 unique locations throughout the state.

Learn more about the CPP and watch the video testimonials of three of those who participated in the program.

CDC Finds Many Health Challenges in Rural America

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that those living in rural areas are more likely than urban residents to die prematurely from all five leading causes of death nationwide: heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke.

The CDC identified several causes for these rural health disparities:
• Health Behaviors: Rural residents often have limited access to healthy foods and fewer opportunities to be physically active compared to their urban counterparts, which can lead to conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure. Rural residents also have higher rates of smoking, which increases the risk of many chronic diseases.
• Health Care Access: Rural counties have fewer health care workers, specialists (such as cancer doctors), critical care units, emergency facilities, and transportation options. Residents are also more likely to be uninsured and to live farther away from health services.
• Healthy Food Access: National and local studies suggest that residents of low-income, minority, and rural neighborhoods often have less access to supermarkets and healthy foods.
• Demographic Characteristics: Residents of rural areas tend to be older, with lower incomes and less education than their urban counterparts. These factors are linked to poorer health. About 46 million Americans—15 percent of the US population—live in rural areas.

The CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion works to improve health in these areas by:
• Measuring how many Americans have chronic diseases or chronic disease risk factors and reporting data down to the county level.
• Studying and reporting on rural health disparities and innovative programs to reduce those disparities.
• Funding and guiding states, territories, and tribes to reach rural populations through proven interventions and innovative programs.
• Developing programs and promoting care through digital formats, such as online classes or “telehealth” approaches that reduce barriers to health care access for rural residents.

Learn more about the report and other data and CDC initiatives to address the disparities.

Review the North Carolina specific data at the NC Office of Rural Health website.

How the Quality Payment Program Affects Your Reimbursements

Our partners at the Physicians Advocacy Institute (PAI) offer the chart below to help you understand how the Quality Payment Program (QPP) affects your Medicare Part B reimbursements.

Your practice’s participation in the QPP can either be through an Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM) or the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), and can significantly impact your Medicare reimbursements. The chart demonstrates how those not participating in the QPP in 2019 will receive a -7 percent payment adjustment in 2021.

By participating in the QPP, you can avoid this negative adjustment. The PAI offers resources to help you navigate the QPP and how to get started. Learn more.

The PAI also offers updates on the QPP with other tips and advice. Read the latest update.

In the News

Nurses Bring In-Home Care, Connections in North Carolina, US News & World Report, 11-12-19

Learning Opportunity

The Advisory Board Forum will present a complimentary web conference titled ‘What Google Health Will Look Like in 5 Years: 3 Ways The Company Wants to Transform the Industry’ on Thursday, Dec. 5, from 1 to 2 p.m. Learn more and register.



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