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Rural Health Quarterly Spring 2022

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RHQ is pleased to present our Spring 2022 issue.

Cover Story – Treating Obesity in Rural Children: Are There Any Solutions?

Rural Reports – Rural health reporting from across the nation and around the world

RHQ Conference Calendar – Upcoming U.S. rural health conferences

Native American Tribes To Receive Millions in Opioid Settlement With J&J, Others

In a new story from The Washington Post, hundreds of federally-recognized Native American tribes have agreed to a settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three other major drug distributors, and will receive $665 million in damages to compensate for tribal devastation from the opioid epidemic.

From the story: “McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen would pay $515 million over seven years and Johnson & Johnson would contribute $150 million in two years to the federally recognized tribes, resolving litigation in dozens of states with tribal reservations, according to documents filed Tuesday in federal court in Cleveland. The tribes claim they were saturated by highly addictive painkillers manufactured by J&J and shipped by the distributors without regard for the clear signs of abuse and death. The companies deny wrongdoing, saying they complied with federal drug laws. The funds would be directed to addiction treatment and prevention programs.

The deal, similar to terms reached by the companies with states, counties and cities for $26 billion, also marks a first for Native American tribes that are often relegated to the sidelines in mass tort litigation, such as in the Big Tobacco litigation of the 1990s.”

With Native Americans statistically more likely to die from an opioid overdose, 50% more according to WaPo, the settlement money will be used to fund drug treatment programs and tribal government efforts to curb opioid use.

To red the rest of the story, click here.

SOURCE: The Rural Blog, The Washington Post

Daily Yonder: Rural Death Rate Climbs 20%, But Omicron Surge May Be Passing

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In the latest rural COVID-19 update from The Daily Yonder, the rural death rate from COVID has surged an extra 20%, even though the new infection rate has fallen off.

As of Jan. 29, the rural death rate is 17% higher than the metropolitan rate, with 150,440 rural Americans dead of COVID over the past two years.

From the update: “Rural counties reported 640,000 new infections last week, down about 14,000 from last week’s record-breaking tally. The 2% decline in new cases was the first weekly decrease in rural infections since Christmas.

New cases in metropolitan counties declined for the second week in a row, dropping about 16% to about 3,335,000.

Even though the infection is dropping nationally, the number of new cases remains extremely high compared to previous surges. In fact, the high rates make this week’s map a bit monotoned. Counties with more than 500 new cases per 100,000 residents are shown in black (rural) and gray (metropolitan). This constitutes all but a handful of counties nationally.”

According to the Yonder, Louisiana currently holds the top spot for most rural infections at 2,600 per 100,000, with Maine having the lowest at 432 per 100,000.

To read the rest of the update and see the data, click here.

SOURCE: The Daily Yonder

North Carolina: UNC Project Highlights Rural Childcare Burden

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In a story from The Daily Yonder, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has undertaken a significant research project in rural areas of the state. Studying why people were leaving two rural counties, the data showed one big reason: a lack of affordable childcare.

From the story: “Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, 51% of the U.S. population lived in a childcare desert, defined as areas where the demand far outstrips the supply of available childcare slots; existing childcare facilities (especially in-home operations) are barely sustainable financially; and, staff turnover is high because childcare workers do not earn a living wage. The research underscores wider challenges in rural childcare provision, including: fewer providers; lower numbers of staff and children to sustain operations in remote locations; inadequate transportation systems; and, difficulties recruiting and retaining staff, particularly for senior roles.  

Covid-19 has cast new light on and exacerbated the nation’s childcare crisis. The mandatory shutdown of the U.S. economy idled many workers with young children, eliminating in the process their need for childcare services. This in turn forced some childcare facilities to furlough workers and close; and others to lay-off workers and close permanently. In our rural counties, low vaccination rates combined with the closures has eliminated more than 90% of the available childcare providers.”

From the data gathered, the team at UNC-CH has some suggestions in regards to rural and urban childcare issues:

“Advocate for more and better continuing education programs for childcare workers. Strengthening their educational background and training will enable them to move away from providing basic childcare to rendering culturally- and age-appropriate child development services—an important step given the increasing diversity of U.S. births.  This will go a long way toward ensuring all children enter elementary school ready and excited to learn, especially children of color from low-wealth families and economically marginalized communities.

Engage in the ongoing livable wage campaign for the nation’s childcare workforce.  Sound early childhood development for the next generation of talent is honorable work and should be compensated accordingly.”

To read the rest of the recommendations on the Yonder, click here.

SOURCE: The Daily Yonder

Expanding Medicaid Could Save Rural Hospitals in the South, Says Proponents of Build Back Better

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In a story for Facing South, Medicaid could save hundreds of rural hospitals located in the southern part of America, if the states with the most hospital closures decided to expand. As pandemic money runs out, rural health care facilities are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and Medicaid is one way states can put an end to closures.

From the story: “Health care advocates say expanding Medicaid in the region could help rural hospitals stay afloat and provide needed care. To date, 38 states and Washington, D.C., have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and 12 states have not, with eight of the non-expansion states in the South. The non-expansion states have seen more rural hospital closures.

“The data has shown a tremendous positive impact to rural facilities in states that have expanded Medicaid,” Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, told Facing South.

Southern states have seen the most hospital closures over the last 17 years, according to the Sheps Center. There have been 24 closures in Texas, 16 in Tennessee, and 11 in North Carolina — all Medicaid non-expansion states.”

Currently there are two bills in Congress waiting to address the issue. But as the clock runs out on funding, the tension is rising to find some way to keep rural facilities open.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

SOURCE: The Rural Blog, Facing South