Thursday, August 18, 2022
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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

Daily Yonder: Rural Areas With Little Internet or USPS Coverage Face Increased Challenges Getting Free COVID Tests

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In a new story from The Daily Yonder, the federal government is sending out free COVID-19 tests to every American. However, if you live in rural America and have a spotty Internet connection or a long drive to your Post Office box, getting the tests is easier said than done.

From the story: “First, there’s already the issue with the U.S. postal system and delays in delivery, said Christopher Shaw, author of First Class: The U.S. Postal Service, Democracy, and the Corporate Threat.

“Then there’s also the website, which is new, and just came online,” Shaw said in a phone interview with the Daily Yonder. “And I’m hearing that there’s some glitches with that. So we’ll have to get those ironed out. If people are at an address, where there’s more than one household and address and one household has already ordered from that address, there could be some confusion.”

Another issue is that in some parts of rural America there are no street addresses to enter into the ordering system, he said. 

Aside from the USPS issues, Shaw said getting online to order the tests may be an issues for some residents.

“If you’re in a rural place where you don’t really have access to the internet, which is a sizable number of people in this country, then how are you going to use the website to order in the first place?” he said.”

Despite these hurdles, according to the story the United States Postal System is still a good way to get COVID tests to virtually every American, regardless of where they live. And with the at-home tests, patients won’t have to wait days or even weeks to get results back from a lab.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

SOURCE: The Daily Yonder

When Writing About COVID, Local Journalists Should Stay Away From “Elite” Sources, According to New Research

According to a new study from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri, reporters working their beats need to stick to local sources when talking about COVID-19 and ongoing pandemic measures, otherwise they may further alienate community members already wary of government public health officials.

From the story, published on the Institute’s website: “While demographic factors — such as age and race — and partisanship explained some variance in views about vaccination and public health recommendations, anti-elitism accounted for more than a third of this variance. Though partisanship has been seen as an important factor in the divide between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, this finding indicates the story is more nuanced, especially given that the media — one of the primary purveyors of public health information — is itself considered “elite” by many who hold anti-elitist values.

However, the results demonstrated that the effect works both ways; an increase in trust from “elitist” information sources corresponded with an increase in favorable attitudes toward public health recommendations and vaccination.

“One of the core problems with scientific solutions for COVID-19 is that those who develop them and communicate about them are distrusted by a significant percentage of the population,” Luisi said. “Now we know that much of that distrust can be explained by anti-elitism, which is prevalent enough to undermine our ability to achieve herd immunity.”

According to the researchers, this rise in distrust can be tempered if local newspapers and reporters write stories geared towards what the local health officials are doing, and not what the “elite” are doing. Seeing what is being accomplished in their own backyards, without mentioning such entities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), could lead local folks into following more pandemic guidelines, and eventually an end to the pandemic in rural America.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

SOURCE: The Rural Blog,

Missouri: Different Definitions of “Rural” Leave Small Towns Bereft of Funding

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In Missouri, one small town is left with empty pockets for broadband funding, as differing definitions of “rural” may qualify his town for one out of hundreds of grants designed to help communities just like his.

Daily Yonder: Rural Women Organize To Fight Back Against Reproductive Bans

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In a commentary post for The Daily Yonder, Carolyn Campbell traveled through rural Mississippi and Texas as state governments began banning or restricting abortion and reproductive rights. What she found was rural women, from conservative to liberal, young and old, angry and organizing to fight back.