Minnesota Rural Health Pulse Newsletter
  May 2017
​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.



Monthly, September 2017 through April 2018
Make a real impact with strengthened advocacy skills​ taught by policy pros.
Get to know legislative policy-making and how to make a real difference.
For more information and to register, visit www.MNRuralHealth.org




FREE - This Friday
FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2017 | 11 AM CST

Learn about the importance of efficacy, quality, and infection control in the new value payment environment. Join us for a free, one-hour webinar with national experts on health payment reform, discussing the most important strategies for success in emerging population models.


Featured Presenters:

Stroudwater Associates
Portland, ME
"Quality care is about not getting people sick."

Executive Director
Rural Health Innovations
Duluth, MN
 "We can get quality scores through the roof by reducing HAIs."

Cuero Regional Hospital
Cuero, TX
"R-Water is going to revolutionize healthcare."

Healthcare Facilities Today:

Register today for the FREE Infection Control Webinar at

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Minnesota Legislative Session Struggles Toward The Finish Line

The Minnesota Legislature and Governor Mark Dayton are still struggling to complete a new two-year state budget days after the May 22nd Constitutional deadline to end session.

Pressure Politics and Broken Deadlines
As Monday's midnight deadline approached, legislative leaders and Governor Dayton announced agreement on the framework of a budget deal.  The Governor called an immediate special session of the Legislature to get the pieces of the agreement passed by Wednesday morning, but legislative debate bogged-down and (as of this writing) the budget has not been completed.

Health and Human Services
One of the last and biggest sticking points has been the Health and Human Services (HHS) budget where the Governor and legislative leaders have been hundreds of millions of dollars apart most of the regular session.  
Representing the second largest and fastest growing piece of the state budget, HHS remains an area of tough contention.

The GOP majority in the legislature prioritized slowing-down HHS spending, primarily by reducing Medicaid. They proposed spending $500 million less over the two-year budget. Governor Dayton favored increasing HHS spending $300 million to meet needs. Their announced compromise would reduce HHS spending by $463 million (Final Conference Targets).

Rural Health
In terms of rural health, reductions in Medicaid spending and reimbursements hurt rural residents more severly because rural residents tend to be lower income, relying more heavily on Medicaid.

HHS Budget Tracking Spreadsheets
(as of 4 p.m. Wed.):
One hopeful bright spot in the new HHS budget will be a set of measures aimed at strengthening access to mental/behavioral health care, which remains one of MRHA's top policy priorities.

We will provide a more complete review and analysis once the new state budget is passed and enacted.

Appointed state HHS leaders:

House -
Senate -Governor Mark Dayton: click here

​Please continue to contact these leaders and remind them rural health needs their support!

FREE Webinar
Monday, June 12th, Noon

A Backup Plan for Solo Seniors:
Health Care Decision-making for People Aging Alone

By: Linda J. Camp, MPS, Owner, Turning Point Consulting
Talking about the last life chapters isn't easy for anyone, but it is especially difficult for "solos;" older adults who lack the traditional family support structure.  When crafting wills, trusts, Powers of Attorney and Advance Care Directives, members of this group struggle with who to designate as a surrogate. Solos "with capacity," are a largely invisible but growing group.  Come hear about and discuss the foundational work on this issue that is underway in Minnesota.
Next FREE Webinar
Thursday, July 20th, Noon

Growing Older With A Smile:
Promoting Oral Health for Older Adults

By: Steve Shuman, DDS, MS, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota School of Dentistry
Co-sponsored by Oral Health America

America's population is rapidly aging with more natural teeth and higher expectations of maintaining oral health than ever before.  The growing recognition of the impact of oral health on overall health now makes access to dental care even more critical.  This webinar will review key oral health concerns for older adults, connections between oral and systemic health, and potential barriers to dental care for older adults, as well as resources to address them.

Register Now!
2017 MN Rural Health Conference: Shaping Sustainable Solutions
June 19-20 @ Duluth

Minnesota Rural Health Conference planners are preparing for the biggest and best conference ever!  Exhibition space and sponsorships are sold out, and we have more than 500 people registered.  Don't miss-out on the premiere rural health gathering of the year!

​The conference will provide the opportunity to:
  • Discover approaches to improve and integrate mental health access in rural communities;
  • Directly engage state legislative leaders on matters of rural health policy
  • Provide timely information on making value real for rural;
  • Learn about supporting rural populations with best practices from around the state;
  • Share community-based solutions to address health disparities and inequities; and
  • Develop and access a network of colleagues, students and partners to support the rural workforce.


New Studies Show Impact of ACA on Rural Minnesota

The MDH Office of Rural Health and Primary Care (ORHPC) has released results of three studies showing impacts to rural Minnesota of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


From Health care access in rural Minnesota: Results from the MN Health Access Survey, produced in partnership with the Health Economics program:
  • The uninsurance rate dropped dramatically in rural Minnesota between 2013 and 2015.
  • Dental uninsurance rates were higher in rural than in urban areas.
  • Despite higher rates of health insurance, affordability and access issues remained in rural parts of the state, and disparities within rural Minnesota based on income and education persisted.
From Public and individual health insurance trends in rural Minnesota: Enrollment during implementation of the ACA:
  • Both before and after ACA implementation, rural Minnesota had a greater share of its nonelderly population enrolled in both Medical Assistance (MA) and MinnesotaCare than urban areas did (27 percent compared to roughly 20 percent).
  • In the individual market between 2015 and 2016, entirely rural counties had a much higher proportion of enrollees than other county types, with 14 percent of their population covered by individual policies compared to 6 percent of the state overall.
  • While individual enrollment via MNsure increased across county types, it did so most substantially in entirely rural counties (where enrollment via MNsure tripled) and in small town/rural mix counties (where enrollment increased by 70 percent).
From Finance in rural and urban hospitals:
  • From 2011 to 2015, the percent of total charges billed to public insurance programs (both Medicare and Minnesota state programs) increased among all Minnesota hospitals.
  • Compared to urban hospitals, rural hospitals continued to receive a larger percent of their revenue from self-pay charges.
  • Both CAHs and urban hospitals saw an increase in operating margins between 2011 and 2015, but non-urban hospitals had a lower median operating margin than urban hospitals.
  • More CAHs had a negative operating margin than other types of hospitals, and the number of CAHs with negative margins increased from 2011 to 2015.
The full briefs are available at Rural Health and Primary Care Reports & Briefs.

Minnesotans Encouraged to Attend RWJ Foundation Meeting in Black River Falls, WI on May 31st

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is sponsoring four national meetings in rural areas to answer the question, “How do rural communities work on rural health needs, and how can we best engage with them?" Wisconsin was asked to serve as one of these four meeting sites and welcomes guests from not only Wisconsin, but from surrounding states as well.
The "Jackson in Action" coalition, a Black River Falls cross-sector collaboration to improve the health of Jackson County residents, will start off the conversation. The audience will then take part in large group conversations. The conclusions and ideas from this meeting will be carried back by national researchers for their report to the foundation.
The meeting is Wednesday, May 31, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Comfort Inn, Black River FallsRegistration is free, but required, for lunch numbers and seating arrangements.

The agenda is available on the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health website. If you have questions, contact John Eich, director, Wisconsin Office of Rural Health at 608-261-1890 or eich@wisc.edu

Join MRHA - 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 form.

At a time when rural health information and advocacy are essential, MRHA is “The Voice of Rural Health” and building its 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 2017 State of Minnesota Rural Health Report to the MN Legislature:   Click Here  (downloadable .pdf)

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