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Rural News

Wanted: Rural health care providers, but few answer the call

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 8, 2018

Several legislative committees have been examining the problem of health care provider shortages in rural North Carolina. And the answers they're getting point to complicated - and potentially expensive - answers. For years, rural hospitals, clinics and towns have been struggling to recruit physicians, and now, that lack of doctors in some of North Carolina’s more far-flung burgs is showing.“On almost any measures when you look at rural health, rural areas are doing poorer,” health economist Mark Holmes told lawmakers on the legislative Committee on Access to Rural Healthcare in North Carolina in January. She also noted the rural physician workforce is aging, with the average age for non-metropolitan physicians being 52.6 years, compared to urban doctors, who are 48.4 years old on average. Fraher and her colleagues at the Sheps Center studied four years’ worth of medical residents, from 2008-2011 and tracked their specialties and where they were practicing five years later. Their research showed that out of 2,009 physicians who graduated from North Carolina-based residency programs, fewer than half stayed in the state, and only 65 of them (3 percent) were practicing in rural areas. “This is a legislature that wants to know the return on investment, and the data show it’s really low,” Fraher said.

With wind farms, bias is in the eye of the beholder

Popular Science | Posted on March 8, 2018

Attraction is subtle and complex, and it can change over time. This insight applies equally to our judgments of food, art, music, architecture and design. Perceptions of beauty are not stable, nor are they universal. Rather, they are constantly shaped by our values, attitudes and beliefs. Nowhere is this more evident than in the debate over wind energy. Depending on your ideas about renewable power, you may view a towering, twirling wind turbine as the paragon of elegance or a hideous monstrosity. For some, Saito explained, lofty, white turbines represent progress, safety, cleanliness. For others, they are a blight on nature and symbol of environmentalism run amok. When they gaze upon the same wind farm, they see two different things.

Trump’s Justice Department sues California over immigration enforcement

NBC News | Posted on March 8, 2018

The Justice Department sued California late Tuesday, escalating the battle between the Trump administration and local governments over the issue of providing sanctuaries from a crackdown on immigration enforcement. The lawsuit, which also names Gov. Jerry Brown and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, challenges three recently passed state laws that the Trump administration says hinder enforcement of federal immigration law and endanger federal agents. In signing the bills into law last October, Gov. Brown said they strike "a balance that will protect public safety while bringing a measure of comfort to those families who are now living in fear every day." The laws provide some of the most generous protections in the nation for immigrants facing deportation, but the Justice Department argues that they improperly venture into the enforcement of U.S. immigration law that is strictly a matter for the federal authorities.

One State Forces Opioid Abusers to Get Help.

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on March 8, 2018

In Tampa, police, health care professionals and families have a powerful legal tool not available in many other places: the 1993 Marchman Act. Families and health care professionals can use the state law to “marchman,” or involuntarily commit people into substance abuse treatment when they are deemed a danger to themselves or others. Although the statute applies to all jurisdictions in the state, court records show that it has been employed in Tampa and surrounding Hillsborough County far more than anywhere else. Hillsborough County accounts for less than 7 percent of the state’s population and more than 40 percent of its Marchman commitments. Police use the Marchman Act to pick up people without a court order and take them to a designated stabilization and assessment center.  Addiction professionals use the law when a patient fails to show up for treatment. And parents and friends use it when they fear a loved one’s life is at risk.

Washington state passes net neutrality law as states push back against the FCC

NBC News | Posted on March 8, 2018

Washington became the first state to pass a law making it illegal for internet service providers to manipulate their networks for money. Dozens of other states are considering similar measures through legislation and lawsuits. Governors in Montana, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey and Vermont have all signed executive orders on the issue.  There's just one problem: The new rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission in December, in a 3-2 vote along party lines, pre-empt states from making their own net neutrality laws. The FCC's new rules will officially go into effect on April 23, according to a notice published last month in the Federal Register. Washington's law, which had bipartisan support, doesn't take effect until June 6. Experts expect it could face legal challenges. "This is symbolic politics, because the states know it is illegal to do," Roslyn Layton, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told NBC News. "But they can put rules on the book and make it look like they're doing something."


Rural prosperity center jumps hurdle

Valdosta Daily Times | Posted on March 6, 2018

A plan to create an academic center focusing on the needs of rural Georgia cleared a milestone, but conversations about funding still await lawmakers. House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the measure, sending it to the Senate. The proposal comes from the House Rural Development Council, which has offered several bills aimed at addressing the woes of rural Georgia.  Shaw’s measure creates the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation, which would be housed within a university that offers a bachelor’s in rural community development – a requirement that appears to favor Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. 

Trump budget eliminates sweat equity and 10 other rural housing programs

Daily Yonder | Posted on March 1, 2018

Despite pushback from the House and Senate on a similar proposal released last year, the Trump administration again recommends doing away with a majority of the nation’s rural housing programs.

Give rural Americans broadband internet and clean water

Quartz | Posted on March 1, 2018

To make it in the digital economy, the first step is to plug in. Nearly 40% of residents in the rural US remain without access to broadband. That includes many of the small towns whose economic bottom felt out when manufacturers left.   Stuck on the digital fringes, they stand little chance of attracting any kind of outside employer, says Roberto Gallardo, a regional economy specialist at Purdue University. It also puts them at risk of losing the little industry they still have. “If you really want to make sure these towns remain, the first thing you’ve got to do is get them wired,” he says. “That’s a must.” One major obstacle to getting those communities plugged in has been that federal funds often go to the big carriers, says Marty Newell, who coordinates rural broadband policy at the Center for Rural Strategies, which focuses on rural development. “The big guys, they are not that interested in the last folks at the head of the holler or the people who are farthest from the county seat,” he adds. “The profit is not nearly as lucrative there.”

Everything Is Booming Except for Americans' Wages

The Agurban | Posted on March 1, 2018

Broad measures of unemployment are as low as at the peak of the mid-2000s boom. And job creation continues at a healthy clip. In other words, it’s time to stop calling this a recovery, and start calling it a boom. But one important economic indicator remains disturbingly subdued -- wages.In dollar terms, wage growth has been superficially healthy -- in January, average hourly earnings rose 2.9% from a year earlier. But consumer prices increased 2.1% during the same period. In other words, real hourly earnings grew by only 0.8% -- less than half the real growth rate of the overall economy.Meanwhile, the NFIB survey reports that 31% of employers are paying their workers more. But this is also presumably unadjusted for inflation. Because inflation is positive in most years, wages tend to go up on average every year. But that doesn’t mean workers are actually getting more purchasing power. In terms of real wage growth, 2017 wasn't a great year, and for nonsupervisory workers, it was especially slow. The biggest wage gains since the recession came in 2015, thanks to a fall in oil prices that held inflation down while dollar wages rose. Now, inflation is back to a more normal level, but dollar wages aren’t rising much faster, meaning that workers are pocketing fewer gains. Median real weekly earnings for American workers actually fell in late 2017 after hitting a plateau earlier in the year. Why are low unemployment, robust business investment and soaring confidence measures not causing faster real wage growth? One possible reason is that employers are growing increasingly powerful. Recent research has found that rising concentration in labor markets -- a decrease in the number of employers competing for workers -- has led to the suppression of wages.

USDA launches webpage highlighting resources to help rural communities address opioid crisis

Norwalk Reflector | Posted on February 27, 2018

The U.S. government has launched a new webpage featuring resources to help rural communities respond to the opioid crisis.