Minnesota Rural Health Pulse Newsletter
​ May 2016
​The newsletter of the Minnesota Rural Health Association (MRHA), a private, non-profit organization missioned to strengthen Minnesota rural health and health care through leadership, education, advocacy and collaboration.


2016 Legislative Session Stumbles; Special Session Likely

Lawmakers in St. Paul were very close to a final set of compromises that would have wrapped-up this year's legislative session with a Bonding Bill, Transportation Bill, Tax Bill and Supplemental Budget Bill.  However, at the eleventh hour, the Bonding Bill deal stumbled over metro area light rail transit (LRT), and the session ended May 23rd without a Bonding or Transportation bill.

Governor Mark Dayton is now deciding whether or not, and when, to call a Special Session to complete those measures. Most observers expect he will call a Special Session within the next few weeks.

2016 Rural Health Successes

MRHA has been working with others on several rural health priorities, including:
  • Broadband expansion (telemedicine)
  • Rural health workforce issues
  • Rural family medicine residency program funding
  • Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) reimbursement
  • Rural health insurance cost disparities
  • Transportation, including rural EMS funding
  • Federal impacts to Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs)
At the State Legislature, we marked several "wins," including:
  • $35 million to expand rural broadband access which is important for telemedicine.
  • Limited but restored funding ($2 million) for rural family medicine residencies
  • 5% increase in reimbursement for rural EMS
  • Funding for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, school-linked mental health, and full staffing for Community Behavioral Health Hospitals


Election Time Means Rural Health Advocacy Time

All 201 seats in the Minnesota Legislature are up for election this fall, so this summer is a very important time to meet with and invite in legislators and candidates to learn the challenges and solutions for rural health and health care.

No matter what your role in rural health, we each have compelling stories to tell that can make a positive difference for the people we serve.

We have to be active advocates if we hope to see policies more supportive of rural health," said MRHA executive director, Steve Gottwalt. "Policy makers need to understand what's going on in Greater Minnesota, and the realities of rural health. That won't happen if we don't do a better job of telling our stories," he said.

Visit the MRHA web site for tips on effective advocacy, and resources for connecting with legislators and candidates


MRHA Welcomes NRHA to Minneapolis

MRHA helped welcome hundreds of rural health professionals, advocates and policy-makers from across the country to Minneapolis May 10-11 for the 2016 national NRHA Rural Health Conference.  The conference featured numerous workshops, keynotes and a meeting with White House staff to discuss a new personalized health care initiative.

In July, MRHA will participate in the NRHA State Rural Health Associations Leadership Conference in Oakland, CA.

​Check out NRHA's Grassroots Action Center for rural health advocacy

Minnesota Rural Health Conference: Cultivating Resilient Communities June 20-21

The 2016 Minnesota Rural Health Conference, "Cultivating Resilient Communities" invites rural health stakeholders to discover the creative ways in which our communities are meeting the challenges of an ever-changing health care system. Join us June 20-21, 2016 at the DECC in Duluth, MN. 

Conference attendees can register online now. See rates and audience details on the website. Last year, over 600 participants attended, and we are already well over 500 registrants for this year's conference!
If you have any questions, please visit the conference website, email us at ruralhealthconference@ruralcenter.org or call 218-216-7037.

Visit the MRHA booth near the Registration Desk and find out how you can become a member of the "Team"!

See you in June!

Register Now for MRHA's New Advocacy Certificate Program
Beginning in July, MRHA will offer an eight-month certificate program in Rural Health Advocacy. This is an important new venture of MRHA stemming from strategic planning that identified the need to build more effective capacity among rural health advocates for making a difference on rural health policy issues.

Why should I do this?  As people directly engaged in rural health, most of us are aware of significant needs, concerns, ideas and challenges, but may not feel comfortable or confident bringing those before policy makers.  Let's face it: Government has tremendous impact on almost everything we do!  Even those of us who occasionally engage in advocacy may want to build greater competency in this important area.  We want to make a difference, but don't know exactly how or where to begin: This program is for you!

What is it?  The 8-month course is set to begin this July, and will feature four face-to-face and four remote learning conferences. Participants will study the fundamentals of effective advocacy, develop their own advocacy projects and engage in hands-on learning resulting in greater understanding and competency.  It's a comprehensive program led by knowledgeable public policy professionals. (Specific dates, times, locations and agendas will be available shortly.)

What does it do?  Participants will achieve a high level of advocacy knowledge and competency by:
  1. Discovering the power each of us possess to uniquely impact rural health policies
  2. Learning the process of how policies are made in St. Paul and Washington, D.C.
  3. Story-telling, and how to craft your own messages for real impact in the policy-making arena
  4. Taking it to the streets: Hands-on learning working directly with legislators and government affairs professionals who know what it takes and can provide instructive feedback
  5. Follow-up and debriefing to strengthen and refine your advocacy skills
What does it cost?  The cost is $1,000 per person, and includes all eight conferences, course materials, instruction and practicum.  Participants who complete the program will receive a "Certified Rural Health Advocate" certificate from MRHA. Space is limited.

Click here for more information and to register!

Visit www.MNRuralHealth.org

MRHA-Stratis Health Emerging Rural Health Leader Award
Ceremony June 20th
 Selection Committee has picked three finalists fo r the first annual  MRHA-Stratis Health Emerging Rural Health Leader Award .

The first annual award will be presented during the MRHA Student Chapter Dinner/Mixer sponsored by AT&T which runs 6:30-8:00 p.m., June 20th, at Grandma’s Sports Garden upstairs Bay View Room in Duluth during the annual Minnesota Rural Health Conference.

The Award includes a plaque, and a $1,000 scholarship covering the cost of participation in MRHA’s new Rural Health Advocacy Certificate Program.  
Visit www.MNRuralHealth.org

MRHA Rural Health Policy Forum, June 20
This year's MRHA Rural Health Policy Forum is the most dynamic ever, featuring an all-star line-up of presenters, and the theme, Strengthening Rural Health through Effective Advocacy.  Participants will benefit by building their capacity to make a positive difference on rural health priorities.

The June 20 Policy Forum is a key feature of the 2016 Minnesota Rural Health Conference, June 20-21 at the DECC in Duluth.  Early Bird Registration is open until May 19.

The Policy Forum features two panels, followed by an open audience question-and-answer session:

Panel #1 - Fundamentals of Effective Advocacy
  • Dave Durenberger, former U.S. Senator and national health care reform leader
  • Erin Sexton, Mayo Clinic's Director of MN Government Relations
  • Sheila Kiscaden, former MN State Senator
  • Steve Gottwalt, MRHA's ED and former MN State Representative
Panel #2 - Policy Success Stories
  • MN Mental Health Victories
    Sue Abderholden, ED of NAMI-Minnesota
  • The MN Community Paramedic Act
    Buck McAlpin, North Memorial's Director of Government Affairs
  • The MN Telemedicine Act
    Mary Krinkie, MN Hospital Association, VP of Government Relations
Make plans now to participate in this year's Minnesota Rural Health Conference, June 20-21, at the DECC in Duluth.

Join us after the Policy Forum: JOIN MRHA!
Become an MRHA Member


FREE Webinar - June 21, Noon
Addiction In Older Adults
Minnesota Gerontological Society

By Stephen Crane and Nan Vest of – The Retreat in Wayzata

Alcohol and drug addiction is a serious and growing issue for people over 55. In fact, there are currently 2.5 million older adults in the U.S. struggling with some sort of alcohol or drug problem, and these numbers are expected to increase as Boomers age. This presentation covers the key issues surrounding older adults and addiction. Participants will learn about the disease model, some of the myths and misperceptions about older adults and chemical misuse, how addiction affects the family and complicates access to care, and some helpful resources.

  • Stephen Crane, M.A., L.A.D.C., Coordinator, Older Adult Program, The Retreat
    Stephen has dedicated his life to helping the addicted and their families achieve recovery by integrating a 12-Step program, with the support of others, to reconnect to healthy family relationships and a spiritually vibrant life.
  • Nan Vest, Outreach and Education Manager, The Retreat
    With a degree in Social Work and years of experience in the eldercare industry, Nancy shares a message of hope for professionals, the addicted person and their loved ones by de-bunking the myths and examining the facts about aging and addiction, and by sharing resources available including information about The Retreat’s Older Adult Day Program, an age-specific recovery program designed specifically for older adults seeking recovery.

Selected Social Determinants of Health for Rural Minnesota

  • Most Minnesotans have some form of health insurance coverage, although 7% of its residents lack health insurance (Kaiser, 2014).
  • According to the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS), the average per-capita income for Minnesotans in 2014 was $48,998, although rural per-capita income lagged at $41,341.
  • The ERS reports, based on 2010-2014 ACS data, that the poverty rate in rural Minnesota is 12.6%, compared with 11.2% in urban areas of the state.
  • 9.9% of the rural population has not completed high school, while 7.0% of the urban population lacks a high school diploma according to 2010-2014 ACS data reported by ERS.
  • The unemployment rate in rural Minnesota is at 4.7% while in urban Minnesota it is at 3.9% (USDA-ERS, 2014).
For a national comparison, please see an overview of the  United States .


Join The Voice of Rural Health!

If you are not currently a member of MRHA, or you know of an organization to which we should reach-out, contact steve@mnruralhealth.org, or visit http://www.MNRuralHealth.org for a membership application form.

We are “The Voice of Rural Health” and building our influence for positive change.  Join the team, and enjoy the benefits of leadership, education, advocacy and collaboration focused on improving rural health and health care in Minnesota!
Share this e-newsletter with others, and let us know of anyone who would like to be added to the distribution list.  Thank you!

MRHA Rural Health Report to the Minnesota Legislature:
The State of Minnesota Rural Health 2015 (Downloadable PDF)

MRHA 2015 Legislation Summary:
MRHA - 2015 Legislation Summary (Downloadable PDF)

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