Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

ARC’s Chartbook a Data Destination for Appalachia

What percentage of homes in West Virginia are owner-occupied? What percent of households in Appalachian Pennsylvania have access to a vehicle? How many households in Appalachian Tennessee have a computer or laptop? What is the labor participation rate in Appalachian South Carolina?

These are only a few of the more than  300,000 data points offered in the The Appalachian Region: A Data Overview from the 2013–2017 American Community Survey, also known as The Chartbook, which was released this week. Drawing from the American Community Survey and comparable Census Population Estimates, The Chartbook offers statistics on demographics, income, employment, as well as education, computer access, housing, and transportation and other indicators—all presented at the regional, subregional, state, and county level with comparisons to the rest of the nation. The Chartbook also examines data change over recent years to show trends.  For instance, Appalachia’s median household income is now 83% of the U.S. rate, up from 80% between 2012-2016, and all diploma and degree  rates – including high school, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degrees – are rising across the Region.

“These patterns suggest that the pace of economic recovery since the Great Recession has varied across the Region, but the counties that saw increases in median household income are also those with higher levels of education and labor force participation, and lower levels of unemployment,” said report coauthor Linda A. Jacobsen, Population Reference Bureau’s vice president for U.S. Programs who helped spearhead the project on behalf of ARC.

Virtual Training for Trauma-Informed Care

Virtual Training for Trauma-Informed CareThe Office on Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers free online courses with continuing education credits to help providers integrate  the principles of trauma-informed care into clinical practice.  The course work is informed by research findings demonstrating that exposure to traumatic events, particularly in childhood, is highly prevalent in our society. A recent report from the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services examined the long-term health effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences for rural, tribal and other at-risk populations.

CMS Finalizes Medicare Prescription Drug Pricing Rule

CMS Finalizes Medicare Prescription Drug Pricing Rule.  Last week, CMS finalized a rule  that will improve the transparency of prescription drug costs in Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage health plans and lower beneficiary out-of-pocket costs. For example, beginning in 2021, the Explanation of Benefits that Part D plans send members must display drug price increases as well as lower cost therapeutic alternatives.  In addition, beginning in 2020, Part D sponsors cannot prohibit or penalize a pharmacy from disclosing a lower cash price to an enrollee.  About 70 percent of rural Medicare beneficiaries had prescription drug coverage in 2017, mostly through stand-alone Part D plans as opposed to Medicare Advantage plans.

Hardship Exclusion for Medicare Interoperability Announced

 Hardship Exclusion for Medicare Interoperability – July 1. Beginning in 2019, all eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, dual-eligible hospitals, and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) are required to use 2015 edition certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT) to meet the requirements of the Promoting Interoperability (PI) ProgramsEligible hospitals and CAHs may be exempted from the Medicare downward payment adjustment if they can show that compliance with the requirements would result in a significant hardship. Hardship exceptions are valid for only one payment adjustment year, so hospitals must submit an exclusion application each year.  The deadline to submit an application is July 1, 2019 for eligible hospitals and November 30, 2019 for CAHs.

CDC Announces Opioid Rapid Response Teams

CDC Opioid Rapid Response Teams.   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with the U.S. Public Health Service Commission Corps to support state and local agencies when there is a spike in opioid-related overdoses or closure of a clinic where patients are prescribed opioid therapy.   The Opioid Rapid Response Teams (ORRTs) include technical expertise in epidemiology, clinical provider outreach, and community outreach, providing short term (28 days) support to public health partners, while also working to build a jurisdiction’s long-term response capacity.

2018 Sub-County Population Estimates

Estimates of the population for sub-county geographies (municipalities) as of July 1, 2018 have been today by the U.S. Census Bureau. A look at Pennsylvania’s cities shows that Philadelphia had the highest numeric increase since 2010, adding over 58,000 persons. Erie had the highest numeric decrease, losing over 5,000 persons during the same time.

How did other cities fare? And how did Pennsylvania’s boroughs and townships hold up? Click here to read the full brief.


The Struggle To Hire And Keep Doctors In Rural Areas Means Patients Go Without Care

Heard on NPR All Things Considered

Taylor Walker is wiping down tables after the lunch rush at the Bunkhouse Bar and Grill in remote Arthur, Nebraska, a tiny dot of a town ringed by cattle ranches.

The 25-year-old has her young son in tow, and she is expecting another baby in August.

“I was just having some terrible pain with this pregnancy and I couldn’t get in with my doctor,” she says.

Visiting her obstetrician in North Platte is a four-hour, round-trip endeavor that usually means missing a day of work. She arrived to a recent visit only to learn that another doctor was on call and hers wasn’t available.

“So then we had to make three trips down there just to get into my regular doctor,” Walker says.

This inconvenience is part of life in Arthur County, a 700-square-mile slice of western Nebraska prairie that’s home to only 465 people. According to census figures, it’s the fifth least-populated county in the nation.

To read the entire article, access

CDC Releases Digital Measles Toolkit

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has created a digital measles toolkit to support health care providers during the current multi-state measles outbreak. It contains products for clinicians and patients about vaccines and measles that include accurate, science-based evidence that can help counter misinformation about measles and MMR vaccine. It helps to support effective vaccine conversation with parent and resources to share with them. New resources will be added as they become available. For up-to-date answers to patients’ frequently asked questions about measles, visit Frequently Asked Questions About Measles in the U.S.

AAMC Releases Report on Physician Shortage

The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) has released the AAMC Report on Physician Shortage,  its annual report on workforce shortages for health care across the nation. This year’s report projects a primary care physician shortage of 21,100 to 55,200 physicians by 2032. The shortfall range reflects the projected rapid growth in the supply of advance practice RNs and physician assistants and their role in care delivery, trends that might strengthen the nation’s primary care foundation and improve access to preventive care. The projection is based on an estimate by the Health Resources and Services Administration that nearly 14,472 primary care physicians are needed to remove the primary care shortage designation from all currently designated shortage areas. Causes of the shortfall include increasing demand from an aging population, expected retirements of many aging physicians, shorter work hours demanded by today’s physician workforce, and the growth in demand from striving to meet population health goals.