Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Census Bureau Launches Updated Website

The U.S. Census Bureau recently launched a new version of The new website adds features, resources, and materials to help inform the public about the 2020 Census. The site includes dozens of new Statistics in Schools materials, a new webpage to share facts about the 2020 Census, information on applying for jobs, and frequently asked questions (FAQs). It is also available in Spanish.

Pennsylvania Suboxone Prescription Legislation Stalls 

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Human Services Committee met on September 18, 2019 to consider legislation to place regulations on how suboxone is prescribed to patients. The provider community, including PACHC, was heavily engaged with the legislature to express concerns about Senate Bill 675 ahead of the committee meeting. Chair Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks) decided to withhold the bill in the committee after hearing concerns from providers and members of the committee. Rep. DiGirolamo and staff will convene stakeholder conversations to revisit the bill to address provider concerns with the current language while also meeting the legislation’s goal of eliminating “cash clinics” – provider operations that provide suboxone prescriptions for cash payment without counseling.

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Passes Unanimous Vote on Credentialing Bill 

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Health Committee voted unanimously to pass Rep. Clint Owlett’s (R-Tioga) House Bill 533, which streamlines the current credentialing process for provider applications to managed care organizations (MCOs) and commercial insurance plans. Rep. Owlett passionately spoke on behalf of the provider community in the committee and has been adamant that the final bill will be fair to both providers and insurers to ensure that there is a timely process to complete applications as well as have an established communications loop.

The Help End Addiction for Life Initiative

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), in partnership with the National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO), released a case study on the rural Kentucky Help End Addiction for Life (HEAL) initiative. This case study provides an in-depth examination of HEAL’s unique features and highlights the voices of local providers and stakeholders. The lessons learned by the HEAL coalition offer strategies for other communities to consider in their own collaborations to reduce opioid use.  The full report can be accessed here.

Comments Requested: Rural Eligibility for Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Funding

As part of an ongoing effort by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) to assess the extent to which FORHP-administered grant programs align with the needs of rural communities, HRSA has published a Request for Information (RFI) soliciting public comment.  Respondents are asked to comment on whether and how the eligibility criteria governing FORHP’s community-based grant programs affect rural communities’ ability to leverage grant funding through FORHP.  RFI responses must be provided via email to and must reference “Rural Health Grants Eligibility RFI” in the title.  Submissions are due no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on November 2, 2019. HRSA will not accept hard-copy responses or other formats.

Suicide Rates Still Rising, Especially in Rural

Suicide Rates Still Rising, Especially in Rural.  On Friday, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a new report on county-level suicide rates, specifically comparing trends and contributing factors that varied between urban and rural areas.  The study included all individuals aged 25 to 64 years who died by suicide between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2016.  Results showed that 77 percent of the decedents were male and that suicide rates were higher and increased more rapidly in rural than in large metropolitan counties.

Read the study here:

Comments Requested: PTAC Proposal on Remote Specialist Care

Comments Requested:  PTAC Proposal on Remote Specialist Care – October 1.  ThePhysician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC) requests public comment on a proposal for a new payment model that would create either Regional Referral Centers (RRCs) or a single National Referral Center (NRC) to provide remote specialists and experts for most health issues. The specialists would support field providers such as visiting nurses, community providers, PCPs, or hospital doctors and would serve any geographic location. Comments can be emailed to with the subject line “Public Comment – [name of document].”

Read the document here:


Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health to Host Rural Human Trafficking Summit on October 29

Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health to Host Rural Human Trafficking Summit on October 29


University Park, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH) will hold the first Pennsylvania Rural Human Trafficking Summit on October 29, 2019 at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center in State College, PA.


The summit will focus on national and state efforts to address human trafficking, the law enforcement response to trafficking, and community- and health care facility-based strategies and education to address trafficking.


According to the Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH), approximately 40.3 million modern slaves are in service worldwide, with approximately 25 million being forced into labor and sex trafficking. It is estimated that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.


Human trafficking is not just a global issue, but a local issue. Rural America, and rural Pennsylvania, are not immune to trafficking. According to data from the NHTH, 275 reported cases of human trafficking were reported in 2018 in Pennsylvania, ranking the state 11th in the nation for human trafficking.


Isolation, geography, and transportation routes that facilitate human trafficking in rural areas allow human trafficking to go undetected. The lack of economic opportunities in many rural areas also make individuals more vulnerable to trafficking. Education, awareness, and an understanding of local, state, and federal resources are essential to identifying potential human trafficked individuals and assisting them in getting the help they need.


The October summit will feature a “surthriver,” a victim of human trafficking who was able to escape this modern day slavery. She will share her compelling journey into and through human trafficking and how she survived—and thrived. She now directs a human trafficking recovery program in northeastern Pennsylvania to aid others to escape the bonds of trafficking.


Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender or nationality. Traffickers might use violence, manipulation or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking.


Trauma caused by traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings. Language barriers, stigma, fear of their traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement frequently keep victims from seeking help, making human trafficking a hidden crime.


National estimates indicate that approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women, and health care providers are often the first professionals to have contact with trafficked women and girls. Nearly 50 percent of trafficked individuals saw a health care professional during their exploitation, putting health care providers and facilities on the front lines of identifying and potentially stopping human trafficking.


The summit is sponsored by PORH; the Region III Office of the Health Resources and Services Administration; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Eastcentral and Northeast Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center; the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, and the Governors Office of Homeland Security.


Registration and additional conference information can be found on the Rural Human Trafficking Summit website at


PORH formed in 1991 as a joint partnership between the federal government, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Penn State. The office is one of 50 state offices of rural health in the nation funded under a program administered by FORHP and is charged with being a source of coordination, technical assistance, networking, and partnership development.


PORH provides expertise in the areas of rural health, agricultural health and safety, and community and economic development. PORH is administratively housed in the Department of Health Policy and Administration in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State University Park.




Editors:  For more information, contact Terri Klinefelter, outreach coordinator, Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, at 814-863-8214 or

Nursing Podcast Series

Season One of “At the Core of Care”

The first season of the At the Core of Care podcast series is available NOW. At the Core of Care highlights the consumer experience of patients, families, and communities and the creative efforts of nurses and other partners to better meet their health and healthcare needs through diversity, leadership, and practice innovation. The stories are based in Pennsylvania but tell a much bigger story about important trends shaping health and health care across America.

We’ve made all the episodes in our first season available immediately. Subscribe, binge, and rate today!

Season One:
Episode 1: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners
Episode 2: Breastfeeding Support at the Philadelphia Nurse-Family Partnership
Episode 3: The Fight for Full Practice Authority in Pennsylvania
Episode 4: Pediatric Home Care for Medically Complex Children

Funding for this project is provided by AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as part of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action Innovations Fund.

Listen here:

Are Changes to Team-Based Care Models Needed for the Future?

Researchers have called for a new model of team-based care called “advanced team care with in-room support” in a report in the Annals of Family Medicine. They state that old primary care team models are “underpowered” and where the new model has been deployed, there has been improved productivity and growth, as well as enhanced patient and staff satisfaction. The researchers also contend the model would “allow clinicians to shed that portion of clinical and administrative work that a well-trained, well-staffed team could easily perform.” Attend “Team-Based Care: Empowering Patients, Reducing Provider Burnout and Achieving Quality” at our Annual Conference & Clinical Summit.  You’ll hear how one health center has created a financially sustainable structure that is transparent, promotes both patient and provider buy-in to team-based care, and incorporates performance improvement, care coordination, behavioral health and primary care providers in a synergistic manner in utilizing their team-based care model.