Thursday, August 29, 2013

Population In Oklahoma without Health Insurance by County, 2011

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that an estimated 695,537 (or 21.8%) Oklahomans under the age of 65 did not have health insurance in 2011. Oklahoma had the 5th highest uninsured rate trailing only Texas (25.7%), Florida (24.8%), Nevada (23.8%), and New Mexico (23.0%). In Oklahoma, Texas County recorded the highest rate at 28.6% and Canadian County recorded the lowest rate at 15.7%.

Use the interactive map below to view uninsured rates for every county in the state.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hospitals in Oklahoma Vulnerable to Losing 'Critical Access' Status by U.S. Congressional District

As a follow-up to our blog post from last week, the OSU Center for Rural Health obtained information from the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) that identifies the rural hospitals in Oklahoma that could lose their ‘critical access’ designation (see map below). The Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided the information to representatives of NOSORH through a Freedom of Information Act request. View our earlier blog post to learn why these hospitals could lose their 'critical access' designation.

Click the image below to open the map as a PDF document.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

OIG Proposal Could Endanger Some Critical Access Hospitals in Oklahoma

Click image to view a larger map (PDF)
Last week, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report calling for significant changes to the eligibility requirements for critical access hospitals (CAH). If adopted the proposed changes could shutter hundreds of rural hospitals across the nation, including some in Oklahoma, potentially leaving millions of Americans without convenient access to a hospital.

 “Critical access” is a regulatory designation available to small, rural hospitals in the U.S. that meet a defined set of standards. Aside from being located in a designated rural area, the hospitals must generally be located at least 35 miles from other hospitals. Under the original legislation establishing CAHs, states could exempt hospitals from the location and distance requirements by designating them as a “necessary provider” or NP.  According to the Oklahoma Office of Rural Health, almost half of the 34 CAHs in Oklahoma operate under the NP exemption. In 2006, Congress stripped states of the power to designate CAHs using the NP exemption, but hospitals that had received the NP exemption could continue to operate as CAHs.

The OIG proposes to force all existing CAHs to recertify, but without any NP exemption. Thus, existing CAHs certified under the NP exemption could lose their “critical access” designation and associated financial benefits, specifically 101% reimbursement of reasonable Medicare costs. These hospitals would be required to use rates set by the prospective payment system (PPS) or other fee schedules. The OSU Center for Rural Health fears that the financial burden caused by changes in reimbursement could lead to the closure of some CAHs in Oklahoma. Such closures would have ripple effects through entire communities as jobs and health care services are lost. To date, the OIG has not published a list of hospitals impacted by these proposed changes.

Fortunately, the OIG’s proposed changes to the NP exemption require legislative action by Congress. The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) and other stakeholders are currently advocating against changes to the NP exemption, but members of Congress need to hear from you. The NRHA has produced a set of key talking points that you can use when discussing this matter with your members of Congress.  The OSU Center for Rural Health will continue to post updates through our blog, Facebook page, and Twitter.  If you have any questions, please contact the Oklahoma Office of Rural Health at (405)840-6500.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Patient Perspectives of Electronic Medical Records: A Descriptive Analysis from the HINTS 4

Presentation given by Denna Wheeler, Ph.D., Director of Rural Research & Evaluation at the OSU Center for Rural Health, to board members of the Oklahoma Health Information Exchange Trust (OHIET) on August 6, 2013. Click the image below to open the presentation as a PDF file.