Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

HHS awards $2.34 billion in grants to help Americans access HIV/AIDS care and medication

From the Office of the Regional Director

Matt Baker


Delaware | District of Columbia | Maryland  | Pennsylvania | Virginia | West Virginia

On October 11, 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that approximately $2.34 billion in Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program grants were awarded to cities, counties, states, and local community-based organizations in fiscal year (FY) 2018. This funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) supports a comprehensive system of HIV primary medical care, medication, and essential support services to more than half a million people living with HIV in the United States.

“New medical advances and broader access to treatment have helped transform HIV/AIDS from a likely death sentence into a manageable chronic disease,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is an important way to ensure that these life-saving treatments reach the Americans who need them, and the Trump Administration is committed to continuing to improve the care by Americans living with HIV/AIDS receive.”

“The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program plays a vital role in the United States’ public health response to ending the HIV epidemic,” said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, M.S., Ph.D. “These grants will help ensure that the most vulnerable Americans living with HIV/AIDS have access to life-saving care and treatment needed to improve their health quality and medical outcomes.”

HRSA oversees the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which is a patient-centered system that provides care and treatment services to low income people living with HIV to improve health outcomes and reduce HIV transmission among hard to reach populations. The program serves approximately 50 percent of people living with diagnosed HIV infection in the United States. In 2016, approximately 85 percent of Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program clients who received HIV medical care were virally suppressed, up from 69 percent in 2010.

To learn more, visit:

If you have any questions, please contact me at 215-861-4648 or at

USDA Launches Interactive Data Tool to Help Rural Communities Address the Opioid Crisis

New Community Assessment Tool Empowers Rural Leaders to Make Data-Driven Decisions to Build Resilient Communities

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2018 – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched an interactive data tool to help community leaders build grassroots strategies to address the opioid epidemic.

“Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural America in addressing this monumental challenge,” Hazlett said. “Local leaders in small towns across our country need access to user-friendly and relevant data to help them build grassroots solutions for prevention, treatment and recovery.”

The opioid misuse Community Assessment Tool enables users to overlay substance misuse data against socioeconomic, census and other public information. This data will help leaders, researchers and policymakers assess what actions will be most effective in addressing the opioid crisis at the local level.

The Community Assessment Tool is free and available to the public. It can be accessed on USDA’s Rural Opioid Misuse Webpage or at

USDA’s launch of the Community Assessment Tool closely follows President Trump’s declaration of October as National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Approximately 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017; 49,000 of those deaths involved an opioid. Many of these deaths have been fueled by the misuse of prescription pain medications. The severity of the current opioid misuse crisis requires immediate action.

Rural Development partnered with the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis at NORC at the University of Chicago to create the Community Assessment Tool. NORC at the University of Chicago is a non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business and policy decisions. Today, government, corporate and nonprofit organizations around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. The Walsh Center focuses on a wide array of issues affecting rural providers and residents, including health care quality and public health systems.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit

National Rural Health Association Details Regulatory and Legislative Action In New Report

The National Rural Health Association’s (NRHA) Government Affairs team’s first annual Government Affairs Update details the key regulatory and legislative wins achieved by NRHA members and staff in the most recent fiscal year. The report also looks forward to FY19 to examine our future goals. Following the midterm elections, we must work to educate newly elected officials unfamiliar with rural health issues, and we must ensure that long-serving members of Congress continue their commitment. The one-page version of NRHA’s report is a great way to present NRHA’s goals to your representatives in a concise manner.

Award to Support Future Rural Residencies through Technical Assistance

Award to Support Future Rural Residencies through Technical AssistanceThe University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has been awarded a cooperative agreement to provide technical assistance to future grantees of the Rural Residency Planning and Development (RRPD) program in fiscal year 2019.  The agreement, administered through the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy in collaboration with HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce, will enable the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to lead a consortium including the University of Washington Family Medicine Residency Network, the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, and others to work with future RRPD grantees to create new, accredited, financially and structurally sustainable rural residency programs in family medicine, internal medicine, and psychiatry.

National Survey of Children’s Health

National Survey of Children’s Health.  This week, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced release of data from the 2017 National Survey of Children’s Health with national- and state-level estimates of key measures of children’s health and well-being.  The annual survey is a joint effort by the U.S. Census Bureau and HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB).  Last week, MCHB announced $361 million to 56 states, territories and non-profit organizations through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV). Of the 888 U.S. counties served by the MIECHV program in 2017, fifty percent were rural.

CDC Annual Report on Health Trends

CDC Annual Report on Health TrendsThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their annual report on health statistics with a special focus on selected trends in mortality.  Measures of mortality (numbers and death rates), together with life expectancy, describe the burden of illness and assess the health of a population.  The leading causes of death differ by age group; unintentional injuries leading for those aged 1-44, while heart disease and cancer are the leading causes for those aged 45 and over.

More rural hospitals are closing

The number of rural U.S. hospitals closing their doors is on the rise, according to a Government and Accountability Office (GAO) report released last week. GAO found that a total of 64 rural hospitals in the United States closed from 2013 through 2017, which is more than twice the number of rural hospital closures that occurred during the previous five-year period. (Source: FierceHealthcare, 10/1)

Hispanic Heritage Month

This October 2018 issue of the Pennsylvania State Data Center’s newsletter features a look at Pennsylvania residents with from Central America (along with Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico). Make sure to view our interactive graphic which displays the estimated number of Pennsylvania residents by country of origin, as well as how that estimate has changed over time. Click here to read more in September’s newsletter.

Governor Wolf Announces Committee to Address Maternal Mortality

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced the creation of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee to collect information to investigate and disseminate findings related to maternal deaths. The committee is the result of Act 24, which the governor signed into law in May.

“With the alarming rate of maternal deaths in Pennsylvania, establishing this committee will help take immediate action in determining the reasons for this phenomenon and, more importantly, help to develop prevention recommendations,” Governor Wolf said. “I’m please to announce the comprehensive and distinguished list of committee members who I am confident will bring their expertise with a shared goal of determining how to address the growing concern of maternal mortality in Pennsylvania.”

“Maternal deaths have been rising in the United States since 2000 and we need to understand why,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Maternal mortality has particularly been a problem in minority populations. This committee features experts in maternal health from across the commonwealth and will help us as we work to take immediate action to reverse this trend.”

The committee, as directed by Act 24 of 2018, must include at least 15 members, and will conduct multidisciplinary reviews of maternal deaths and develop recommendations to prevent future maternal deaths in Pennsylvania.

Members of the committee are identified as follows, including their name, specialty and county:

  • Valerie Arkoosh, Specialist, Delaware County
  • Betty J. Baxter, Registered Nurse, Allegheny County
  • Jason K. Baxter, Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist, Philadelphia County
  • Stacy Beck, Secretary of Health Appointment, Allegheny County
  • Kay-Ella Bleecher, Emergency Medical Service Provider, York County
  • Sonya Borrero, Specialist, Allegheny County
  • Carolyn Byrnes, Secretary of Health Appointment, Dauphin County
  • Joanne D. Craig, Social Worker/Social Service Provider, Delaware County
  • Antoine B. Douainy, Addiction Medicine Specialist, Allegheny County
  • Amanda Flicker, Obstetrician, Lehigh County
  • Julia A. Greenawalt, Registered Nurse, Indiana County
  • Sam P. Gulino, Medical Examiner or Coroner, Philadelphia County
  • Roy Hoffman, Specialist, Philadelphia County
  • Sarah S. Kawasaki, Addiction Medicine Specialist, Dauphin County
  • Dara Mendez, Health Statistician, Allegheny County
  • Nancy A. Niemczyk, Certified Nurse-Midwife, Allegheny County
  • Karen Pollack, Secretary of Health Appointment, Philadelphia County
  • Stefanie B. Porges, Emergency Medical Service Provider, Philadelphia County
  • Jessica L. Riley, Specialist, York County
  • Loren Robinson, Secretary of Health Appointment, Philadelphia County
  • Patricia M. Ross, Medical Examiner or Coroner, Blair County
  • Bette C. Saxton, Social Worker/Social Service Provider, Luzerne County
  • David F. Silver, Psychiatrist, Philadelphia County
  • Nazanin E. Silver, Psychiatrist, Philadelphia County
  • Sindhu Srinvias, Obstetrician, Philadelphia County
  • Steven Smith, Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist, Montgomery County
  • Tara Trego, Department of Health Bureau of Family Health, Allegheny County
  • Christina Vandepol, Medical Examiner or Coroner, Chester County
  • Amy Whitstel, Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist, Allegheny County
  • Dannai Wilson, Secretary of Health Appointment, Allegheny County

For more information about maternal and family health, visit or follow the Department of Health on Facebook and Twitter.