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A draft of the Roadmap to a Healthier Minnesota – the Health Care Reform Task Force’s recommendations to Governor Dayton and the Legislature – is available for review. The Task Force invites public comment on the draft through December 10. Email and include “Roadmap” in the subject. More information is available on the Health Care Reform Task Force website.

A new Clinician Retention Toolkit is now available on the ORHPC website. The National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network (3RNet) and the National Rural Health Resource Center, working in partnership with ORHPC and its state counterparts in Wisconsin and Indiana, developed the multi-part toolkit to support health care recruitment and retention efforts, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

The Minnesota Legislature has asked MDH, in consultation with the Minnesota e-Health Advisory Committee, to conduct a study on access to patient records. On December 6 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., MDH will hold a public meeting at its Snelling Office Park location to share initial findings from the Health Records Access Study survey and to solicit public comments. Email in the MDH Office of Health Information Technology with questions.

To coordinate Minnesota's response to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC)'s request for comment on Meaningful Use Stage 3, the MDH Office of Health Information Technology (OHIT) is holding an informational conference call and accepting comments through December 31. More information, including a tool for submitting comments, is available on the OHIT website. Email with questions.


Graph - Retention of J-1 visa physicians

The J-1 Visa Waiver program provides opportunities for foreign physicians to practice medicine in places where the numbers of health care providers are inadequate to meet the needs of the population. In the 14 years from 1996 to 2009, 240 physicians participated in Minnesota’s J-1 Visa Waiver program. As of December 1, 2011, 136 physicians continue to practice in Minnesota.  Physicians participating between 2009 and 2012 are still practicing in Minnesota under their three-year federal obligation.

For more information and data on Minnesota's health workforce, visit the ORHPC Health Care Workforce Analysis Program site or contact Angie Sechler at or 651-201-3862.


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Application materials for the Rural Hospital Capital Improvement Grant Program are available on the ORHPC Grants and Loans page. Pre-applications are due December 17 and final applications (if invited) will be due March 18, 2013.

Application materials for the Minnesota Loan Forgiveness Program, which supports recruitment and retention of health care professionals in communities experiencing a shortage of primary health care providers, are now available on the ORHPC Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Programs page. Applications due by January 2, 2013.

The 2012 Minnesota e-Health Connectivity Grant Program for Health Information Exchange (HIE) is accepting applications on a first-come, first-serve basis. Eligible applicants include community HIE Partners (two or more health organizations collaborating to implement HIE for meaningful use transactions) or pharmacies not able to accept electronic prescriptions. Visit the Minnesota e- Health Connectivity Grant for Health Information Exchange page for more information on this new funding opportunity. Contact Anne Schloegel at with questions.

Be an ORHPC grant reviewer! Please contact Cindy LaMere at or 651-201-3852 with your name, profession, place of employment and contact information.


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The federal Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) has released a FY 2013 Small Health Care Provider Quality Improvement (Rural Quality) Grant Program funding announcement. The program supports rural primary care providers in implementing quality improvement activities that help develop an evidence-based culture and the delivery of coordinated care. A technical assistance call will take place December 18. Applications due January 30.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation's Access to Coverage program seeks proposals for increasing health care coverage for low-income Minnesotans who are eligible for coverage but not currently enrolled. The foundation will fund each of the state's six regions and encourages the development of regional coalitions of community partners who can identify and effectively reach out to all low-income individuals in their area. Applications due January 14.

The American Academy of Pediatrics' Community Access to Child Health (CATCH) program is seeking applications from pediatricians and pediatric residents in the planning or initial implementation stage of a community-based child health initiative. The program is designed to help increase children’s access to a medical home or specific health services not otherwise available. Applications due January 31.

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) forecasts a New Access Points grant opportunity to support new full-time Community Health Center sites. Estimated application due date is February 2.

The Institute for Rural America is offering Seize the Moment Grants. These small (maximum $250) awards are intended to assist nonprofit organizations needing to take quick action on issues that arise or to send staff to training programs. The application deadline is rolling.


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The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) seeks public comment on a possible new methodology for designating frontier and remote areas. The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) is hosting a free webinar on the methodology on December 10. John Cromartie and Gary Hart, coauthors of the methodology, will explain how new codes could be used in policy and research and discuss implications for frontier communities.

The Minnesota Rural Health Association will host a free cyber conference, "Preparing to meet the latest Electronic Medical Record requirements," on December 17 from noon to 1:00 p.m. The conference will feature presenter Dr. Paul Kleeberg of Stratis HealthEmail Judy Neppel to register.

The Regional Extension Assistance Center for HIT for Minnesota and North Dakota (REACH) will offer a half-day boot camp on January 7 to help staff from clinics and hospitals understand Stage 2 Meaningful Use and its implications. More information and registration is on the REACH website.

Two statewide conferences invite proposals for sessions:

  • The 2013 Age & Disabilities Odyssey conference is accepting session proposals. The conference will be held June 17-18 in Duluth and is sponsored by the Minnesota Board on Aging and the Minnesota Department of Human Services Aging and Adult Services and Disability Services divisions. Proposals due by December 17.

  • The 2013 Minnesota e-Health Summit has issued a Call for Presentations. This year's summit will be held June 12-13 in Bloomington with the theme “Minnesota e-Health:  Optimizing, Connecting, Transforming.” Applications due December 21.

The Disparities Leadership Program is a year-long executive education program designed for leaders from hospitals, health plans and other health care organizations who want to a) develop a strategic plan or b) advance a project to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care, particularly through quality improvement. Partial scholarships available. Applications due February 8.


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The Department of Social Work at the University of Minnesota Duluth received a federal grant (link no longer available) of $440,000 over three years to expand the number of clinical social workers serving high-need populations in the Arrowhead region of northern Minnesota. The program was one of only 20 grantees nationally to receive a Mental and Behavioral Health Education Training Grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) celebrated the 25th anniversary of the federal Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) (link no longer available) in November. Created in 1987 under the Social Security Act, ORHP advises the Secretary on HHS policies affecting rural health and works with state and local partners to enhance delivery of services to 62 million residents living in rural communities.

The University of Minnesota's School of Dentistry's efforts to increase access to dental care in underserved communities was featured in "Sinking teeth into rural Minnesota," an article in the online UM News (link no longer available).

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What's different about rural health care? (National Rural Health Association for National Rural Health Day).
New foundation for rural health leadership (HealthLeaders Media).
New Minnesota diabetes atlas goes online (Austin Post-Bulletin).

Health reform
Safety net challenges in delivering accountable care (Health Affairs blog).
High-performance health care for vulnerable populations: A policy framework for promoting accountable care in Medicaid
(The Commonwealth Fund).
Will there be enough providers to meet the need? Provider capacity and the ACA (Urban Institute).
• The current and future role and impact of Medicaid in rural health (link no longer available) (Rural Health Research & Policy Centers).

What's new with community benefit? (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).

Rural cancer survivors at risk for poor outcomes
(Health Behavior News Service).
How health inequalities play out in Twin Cities’ communities of color (MinnPost).
Rural older adults’ mental health: Status and challenges in care delivery (Rural and Remote Health).

• Study says U.S. will need 52,000 additional primary care providers by 2025: Projecting U.S. primary care physician workforce needs: 2010-2025 (Annals of Family Medicine).
Down home and long-distance solutions to rural doctor shortage (American Medical News).
Salary growth lagging for primary care doctors (Reuters).
Recruiters say why it’s getting tougher to hire primary care doctors (American Medical News) while Mayo says recruiting picking up (Fairmount Sentinel Online).
Fact sheet: Nursing shortage (American Association of Colleges of Nursing).
Direct care workers: Fact sheet and resource toolkit (Alliance for Health Reform).

Health information technology
Telehealth programs allow more rural seniors to live at home (The Rural Monitor).
• Broadband for rural America: Economic impacts and economic opportunities (link no longer available) (Hudson Institute). Includes impacts on rural health.
2012 Minnesota Internet survey: Digital divide 2.0 and beyond (Center for Rural Policy and Development) and coverage of the study by Minnesota Public Radio (link no longer available) and the Pioneer Press.
Broadband applications in health care in NE Minnesota (Blandin Broadband Conference).
Rural e-patients face access challenges (Pew Internet and American Life Project blog).

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Will Wilson, supervisor of ORHPC's Financial and Technical Assistance unit, toured seven rural hospitals on November 19 and 20. On visits to Hallock, Warren, Crookston, Mahnomen, Perham, Wadena and Little Falls, Will learned about existing grant projects and discussed future grant opportunities.  He also talked about ways the ORHPC can offer additional technical assistance to rural hospitals.

Tom Major, Angie Sechler and Deb Hagel met with Minnesota Board of Pharmacy staff to discuss a workforce survey that would be given to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians at the time of license renewal. A survey is tentatively planned for 2014. Such surveys allow ORHPC's Health Workforce Analysis Program to analyze workforce trends, including hours worked, career plans, practice settings and specialties.

Chris Ballard taught two sessions at a Performance Improvement Forum in Marshall on November 29. The Southwest Minnesota Regional Trauma Advisory Committee hosted the event.

Tammy Peterson conducted Level IV trauma designation site visits on November 6 at Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet and at New Ulm Medical Center on November 19, and a Level III site visit at Avera Marshall Regional Healthcare Center on November 30.


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The Rural Multiracial and Multicultural Health Conference will be held December 4-6 in Asheville, NC.

The Rural Health Policy Institute will be held February 4-6 in Washington, D.C.

The Oral Health Summit 2013 will take place on February 22 in West St. Paul.

The 2013 Minnesota e-Health Summit will be held June 12-13 in Bloomington.

The 2013 Age and Disabilities Odyssey Conference (link no longer available) will take place June 17-18 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC).

The 2013 Minnesota Rural Health Conference will be held June 24-25, 2013 in Duluth.


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Minnesota Office of Rural Health and Primary Care
P. O. Box 64882
St. Paul, Minnesota 55164-0882
Phone 651-201-3838
Toll free in Minnesota 800-366-5424
Fax: 651-201-3830
TDD: 651-201-5797

Our mission
to promote access to quality health care for rural and underserved urban Minnesotans. From our unique position within state government, we work as partners with communities, providers, policymakers and other organizations. Together, we develop innovative approaches and tailor our tools and resources to the diverse populations we serve.