December 2017
Rural Matters
Table of Contents
Here's a quick link to articles in this issue:

Welcome New Adminstrative Services Coordinator
Getthere 2017 HighlightsGetthere 2017 Highlights
Rural Health Network Policy and Advocacy Resources

Rural Health Network of SCNY offices will be closed Monday, December 25 and Monday, January 1.  Limited staff will be available December 26-29.  

jackHoliday Greetings and Year End Thoughts

First things first: Happy Holidays to our employees and their families, Board of Directors, those we serve, our partners, friends, and supporters. Clearly, our world can use all of the peace and love we can muster as we wrap up 2017.

Year End Thoughts: In a recent meeting in which we were discussing the Rural Health Network of SCNY and how to communicate who we are to those who do not know us, I offered the idea that maybe we should re-focus on and re-energize the Network part of our organizational name. While the word means different things to different people, I think of the word and all it implies, as the organizational version of natural ecosystems. 

Natural ecosystems are dynamic, complex, driven by solar energy, and characterized by biological and chemical relationships grounded in time and place. Our Rural Health Network, while not as complex as a natural system, is dependent on resources (energy), dynamic - collaborative relationships, and is responsive to the unique needs of those we serve (grounded in time and place).

In considering the importance of Networks and collaborative relationships in this work, how do you know if your organization is collaborative? How can others know? 

One idea I have been toying with is really quite simple. During the annual audit process, identify all partner organizations paid by your organization during the year. By adding up the amount of funding paid or passed through your organization to non-profit, governmental, and educational partners, you could establish the ratio of funding shared or passed through to total funding. This would be one way to quantify collaborative activity with non-profit partners.

Clearly, you would not want this to be the only measurement of collaborative activity, but I do think it could be a helpful indicator for boards of directors, funders, elected officials, etc. While collaborative work does not require the exchange of funding, I do think those organizations that approach both the work and the resources with thoughtful consideration of sharing both, operate at a deeper level of inter-organizational relationship than those that do not.

We will give the idea of calculating the ratio of funding shared to total funding a trial run and report on what we learn. It would be interesting to see if measuring this activity can be a helpful indicator for understanding an organization's level of inter-organizational collaboration over time.

Jack Salo
Executive Director

Rural Health Network of South Central New York is currently looking for two AmeriCorps*VISTA members to start service in February 2018. VISTA members serve for one year and focus on anti-poverty measures and capacity building. For more information, please see the specific position descriptions below. You can also learn more about these positions (and several others) and submit an application on the RHSC website. Please share this information with anyone you know who may be interested in a year of national service.

Rural Tioga Poverty Educator (Owego/Binghamton, NY)
The Rural Tioga Poverty Educator will lead efforts for Tioga County initiatives focused on stronger analysis of data. The member will work with the Rural Health Network of SCNY Senior Leadership Team and Tioga County community stakeholders to gather and analyze data to identify strengths and weaknesses of Tioga County's rural municipalities. The final product will ensure more equitable resources and service allocation to rural Tioga County residents.

Rural Poverty Educator (Whitney Point/ Binghamton, NY)
This VISTA member will work to increase project sustainability through resource development and communications efforts aimed at addressing the adverse health impacts of living in poverty. Additionally, the VISTA member will lead efforts at the Rural Health Network of SCNY, educating community members on the realities of living in rural poverty. The member will be responsible for Rural Poverty Simulations and community presentations delivered to targeted audiences, including: health care providers, elected officials, school personnel, and other community members. 

rachelWelcome New Administrative Services Coordinator

Rachel Priest began working at the Rural Health Network of SCNY as Administrative Services Coordinator last month. She is a Binghamton area native and a graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in Creative Writing. She previously worked for the City of Binghamton in Economic Development and as a realtor for several years. In her spare time Rachel loves cooking at home with her husband and spending time in nature.

I'm thrilled to join the Rural Health Network team. Healthy communities are the foundation of a vibrant and successful Southern Tier and I'm so proud to be part of a team of people dedicated to improving the lives of their neighbors. I'm excited to do my part in helping our organization provide much-needed services to our rural communities through RHNSCNY's many programs. 
  getthere2017 Highlights
Mobility Management of South Central New York and The Getthere Call Center would like to thank everyone for your support in 2017. The Getthere Call Center and the Connection to Care program have seen tremendous growth in the number of cases, the number of trips provided, and the miles traveled. The new voucher program has provided more transportation than we anticipated. More importantly, we are helping more people than ever before! The appreciation of those we help is demonstrated every day.

"I like Getthere because you guys do what you say and "get you there"...senior from Walton

"I am so grateful t hat  I can now make my appointments on my own" ...senior Travel Training participant

"Thank you so much for the gas cards. They are so much appreciated"...client from Oneonta after Connection to Care assistance

"I would like to comment that this was my first time using this "Getthere" service which I thought was wonderful"...City of Binghamton voucher recipient

As we look forward to 2018, with new ideas and more ways to assist people, the Staff of the Getthere Call Center would like to thank everyone for their support and wish each of you safe and Happy Holidays.
We invite you to read the 2017 Food and Health Network annual report to learn more about our exciting initiatives! Click on the image below for the full report.

Rural Health Policy & Advocacy Resources
Looking ahead to 2018:
Rural Health Network of SCNY will continue to move forward with advocacy efforts focused on transportation, access to healthy food, and rural behavioral health, along with some additional activities around community health. Our 2018 Advocacy Plan is expected to be approved by our Board of Directors before the end of this year. If you would like more information about our efforts or our plans moving forward, please contact Mary Maruscak.

While we have not developed our own 2018 "Wish List", we felt that David Sandman from the NY State Health Foundation expressed himself well in his monthly Huffington Post contribution for December.

Current policy considerations:

CHIP - Child Health Improvement Plan:
As it stands today, our representatives in Washington DC have still not made clear decisions on the reauthorization of funding for the Child Health Improvement Plan which provides healthcare for approximately 700,000 children in NY State and millions more across the country.  Estimates are that current NYS funding for CHIP will run out between January and March, 2018. All states in the nation are considering various actions as final budget deadlines loom, including enrollment freezes This fact sheet from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides more detail.  There currently exists a bipartisan proposal to reauthorize CHIP, but it is not clear if it will make it to the floor for a vote before the end of the year - all signs point to this being unlikely. And while it is a positive that a proposal has been drafted, it is not so positive that the proposed funding for CHIP would cut a large amount of money from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a vital component of the Affordable Care Act which funds vaccinations, community health education, and opioid treatment initiatives. 
Please reach out to your representatives and tell them what the loss of CHIP funding means to you, your communities, and the populations you serve. Resources to share can be found here.

Tax Reform: 
As we are sure you are aware, the Senate passed a hastily developed tax bill in the early morning hours of December 2.

Here, CNN Money provides an overview of what can be found in the Senate's bill and how it differs from the bill approved by the House in mid-November; and here, how the tax bill is likely to impact individuals and families.

According to Families USA's analysis of Congressional Budget Office estimations, the tax bill could have the following impacts on health coverage:

1) Increase the federal deficit by more than $1 Trillion, leading to health care cuts down the road.
2) Cause 13 million people to lose coverage.
3) Increase premiums by 10 percent.
4) Slash $25 Billion from Medicare.

Currently, the House and the Senate have passed separate tax bills. The next step is to take them both to conference committee to agree on differences, with a goal of a signature from the president before the end of the year.

RHNSCNY's mission continues to be to advance the health and well-being of rural people and communities. As such, we encourage our readers and community partners to learn as much as possible about the potential impacts of this legislation, consider how these changes may impact your communities, and reach out to your representatives as it feels appropriate to you at 866-426-2631.
NY State Marketplace Open Enrollment Closes 1/31/18
Are you uninsured or do you know someone who needs insurance coverage?

If you need health insurance coverage effective 1/1/18 you must enroll in a plan by 12/15/17 (today!)

Rural Health Network staff can connect you to in-person assistance.

Call 607-692-7669 or 1-888-603-5973 
Monday - Friday8 AM - 4:30 PM

NY State of Health is the place to shop for and enroll in Medicaid, Child
Health Plus, the Essential Plan, and Qualified Health Plans.

If you need assistance connecting with NY State of Health navigators, view this directory for a list of navigator agencies in every county.
Connect with Rural Health Network of SCNY

If you would like to support our work, 
please visit our donation page .  

If you're shopping at Amazon, you can support RHNSCNY by making your purchases though Amazonsmile.   
Advancing the health and well-being of rural people and communities.