Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

State Seeks Flexibility in Federal Opioid Funding

In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington D.C. during the week of January 19, Jennifer Smith, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs, shared how federal funding has helped Pennsylvania have an impact on the opioid crisis.  She credited the contribution of $230 million in federal funding combined with state and local resources and the expansion of Medicaid with supporting an 18% drop in the state’s overdose deaths in 2018.  She also shared that a rise in stimulant use challenged the state in 2019 and the state was bound, in many cases, by drug-specific federal grants that couldn’t be shifted to address issues related to drugs like meth and cocaine. She urged shifting of funding to block grants to give states increased flexibility to address additional substances. Ms. Smith joined state officials from West Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Rhode Island in sharing how their governments have used federal funds earmarked to fight the opioid epidemic.

Uber Health Assists Health Centers

During the C-Suite Forum in the week of January 19, PACHC learned many community health centers are using Uber Health for patient transportation. The HIPAA-secure program allows patients to book rides at no charge to and from your health center as well as to clinician referral locations. The program limits your patient’s use of the ride share program to ensure you won’t be charged for rides beyond healthcare appointments. Your organization is billed monthly based on ride usage and you’ll receive a report with patient names and ride details. The system also offers integration directly into your organization’s EHR. Visit Uber Health’s website to learn more. Contact PACHC at to let them know if your organization is using the program or if you want to connect with one of the centers utilizing the ride share service.

National Rural EMS & Care Conference

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), the National Association of State EMS Officials, the Joint Committee on Rural Emergency Care, The State of Ohio EMS, and the Ohio Office of Health Policy and Performance Improvement invite you to join them on April 22-23, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio, for the 6th Annual National Rural EMS & Care Conference!

The National Rural EMS & Care Conference brings in participants from across the country. Invited attendees include rural EMS directors, medical directors and officers, rural healthcare providers, state EMS officials, state rural health officials, hospital administrators, federal agency officials, and other EMS partners.

Click here to view the Draft Agenda


Conference Hotel

Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel

50 North Third Street

Columbus, OH


To book a room, please call 877-901-6632, press 3, then press 2. The code to reference is “NOSORH EMS Meeting” to get the $143.23 per room/per night rate. This includes taxes and fees. You may also book online by clicking here.

The hotel reservation deadline is March 30, 2020.


EMS Grant Writing 101 Workshop

Prior to the conference, join NOSORH for a half-day EMS Grant Writing 101 Workshop on Tuesday, April 21, from 1:00-5:00 pm! Rural EMS agencies and other interested partners will learn how to write and submit a complete grant proposal, understand rural relevant data important to EMS, and identify funding opportunities.

Workshop Agenda


Click here to register for the Conference and the Grant Writing 101 Workshop. The deadline to register is March 30, 2020, by 5:00 pm ET.

For more information, please visit the EMS Conference Website.

Comments Requested: Coordinating Out-of-State Care for Chronically Ill Children – March 23

CMS requests input from rural and urban advocates, caregivers, providers, and States on best practices for using out-of-state providers to care for Medicaid-eligible children with medically complex conditions. Input may address how to coordinate care when providers are out-of-state; how to reduce barriers from receiving out-of-state care in a timely fashion; and best practices for screening and enrolling out-of-state providers in Medicaid. For more information, click here.

HHS Report on Substance Use Disorder and Child Welfare in Rural Areas

According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, parental drug use was a factor in 36 percent of cases where a child was removed from the home.  The brief examines the challenges specific to rural areas and recommends strategies to increase workforce capacity, improve access to services, and coordinate efforts of child welfare agencies and treatment providers. To read the report, click here.

Surgeon General Releases First Report Focused on Smoking Cessation in 30 Years

Three decades after the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking cessation, on January 23, 2020, the Surgeon General released a new report that reviews and updates evidence on the importance of quitting smoking. The report finds that more than two-thirds of U.S. adult cigarette smokers report interest in quitting cigarette smoking; and the majority of adult cigarette smokers in the United States have tried to quit during the past year.

In addition to discussing the immediate and long-term health and economic benefits of smoking cessation at the individual and societal levels, this report presents updated findings on nicotine addiction and genetic factors that may impact smoking behaviors. Finally, the report discusses the wide variety of clinical and population-based interventions that have been scientifically shown to effectively increase smoking cessation.

“We know more about the science of quitting than ever before. As a nation, we can and must do more to ensure that evidence-based cessation treatments are reaching the people that need them,” said Surgeon General Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams. “Today, I’m calling on healthcare professionals, health systems, employers, insurers, public health professionals, and policy makers to take action to put an end to the staggering—and completely preventable—human and financial tolls that smoking takes on our country.”

“The steady decline in the number of Americans who smoke cigarettes is one of the great public health victories of recent decades, and this success has continued under President Trump,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Americans who quit cigarettes can add as much as a decade to their life expectancy.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans still smoke cigarettes. But the good news is that, as the Surgeon General’s report shows, we know more than ever before about effective ways to help Americans quit. Working together, we can make tobacco-related disease and death a thing of the past.”

Though cigarette smoking among American adults is at an all-time low (14%), it remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States. Approximately 34 million American adults currently smoke cigarettes.

For more information on the Surgeon General’s Report:

  • Read the press release here
  • Read the full report here
  • Additional information from the CDC here

Ensuring a More Accurate Rural Count for the 2020 Census

As the effort to count every resident in the United States begins, the Urban Institute provides data on rural populations living in hard-to-count areas and steps for achieving a more accurate count.  Population counts from the U.S. Census are used to allocate federal funding, provide data for research and policy-making, and plan economic development, among countless other needs for quality of life.  In addition to traditional challenges to counting in rural areas – remote homes, migrant workers, literacy – the 2020 Census will add a digital response option and many rural areas have low rates of internet access at home.  More information is available by clicking here.

New Resource Focuses on Children’s Dental Health

Tiny Smiles, an American Dental Association “Give Kids A Smile Program”, is offering free resources along with Scholastic ahead of Children’s Dental Health Month. There are resources for educators, dental professionals, and medical professionals. Resources include kids’ activities and family topics for use in classrooms and office waiting rooms. All materials are available in English and Spanish and aim to promote the importance of oral health for young children.

Click here to view the resources.

75th Anniversary of Community Water Fluoridation

January 25, 2020 is the 75th anniversary of community water fluoridation, a practice that helps significantly improve oral health. Join Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health and other organizations in celebrating this important public health achievement by spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter. The American Fluoridation Society created free graphics to use to promote the anniversary on social media. There will be a “Twitter Storm” on Friday, January 24 from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to celebrate the anniversary. During this time, fill Twitter with community water fluoridation anniversary posts. Be sure to use #fluoride4health75 in all posts!

Click here to download the graphics.