Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

HHS Launches COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal

On April 27, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), launched a new COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal, allowing health care providers who have conducted COVID-19 testing or provided treatment for uninsured COVID-19 individuals on or after February 4, 2020 to submit claims for reimbursement. Providers can access the portal at

The Trump Administration is committed to ensuring that individuals are protected against financial obstacles that might prevent them from getting the testing and treatment they need for COVID-19. As part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, health care providers can request claims reimbursement electronically through the COVID-19 Uninsured Program Portal and receive reimbursement, generally at Medicare rates for testing uninsured individuals for COVID-19 and treating uninsured individuals with a COVID-19 diagnosis.

Read more.

Reopening Could Cause 233,000 Extra Deaths by June 30 but Save Up to 18M Jobs: Report

As states consider relaxing coronavirus lockdown orders, a new report estimates that fully reopening the economy would lead to an additional 233,000 deaths nationally by the end of June, relative to not reopening, but would at the same time save approximately 18.6 million jobs from being lost.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Wharton Budget Model analyzed the health and economic effects of states partially reopening (lifting emergency declarations, stay-at-home orders, and school closures) as well as fully reopening, which would include businesses and restaurants as well.

The model, released on Friday, projects on a national level that if states do not open before June 30 and maintain status quo, the cumulative national deaths due to the virus would rise to about 117,000 by June 30 (including deaths before May 1), and approximately 18.6 million jobs would be lost between May 1 and June 30.

Read more.

CDC Provides Cleaning, Disinfection Guidance for Reopening

The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) has published new guidance on Cleaning & Disinfecting for Reopening. The guidance reviews spaces used for various purposes and details on how they should be cleaned and disinfected and how often. The resource also details when it is not necessary to increase cleaning procedures, such as certain outdoor areas and facilities that have not been occupied in seven days or more. Click here to view the guidance.

Child Care Stimulus Relief Package Released to General Assembly 

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC), together with their partners in the Start Strong PA and Pre-K for PA campaigns, unveiled their proposal to provide stimulus relief for early care and education infrastructure during the coronavirus pandemic. Circulated to members of the state House and Senate to gain their support, the plan proposes the utilization of federal funds for emergency actions in order to preserve and stabilize capacity in the sector. The proposal suggests the following three-pronged strategy to support high-quality child care:

  • Federal funds should be used to pay child care subsidies and contract payments to Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance Programs for the duration of the crisis.
  • Federal funds should also be used to compensate for the shares of revenues that would have otherwise been collected by providers in the Child Care Works program as co-pays until child care services return to normal.
  • Federal funding should be used to cover a portion of lost revenues for uncollected private pay tuition through the crisis period.

As stated by PPC, in order to protect gains made through state pre-k investments and boost the chances of school success when the pandemic ends, the General Assembly should appropriate funds to allow Pre-K Counts and Head Start programs to offer summer instruction for children who will enter kindergarten in the fall. Additionally, to protect providers, instill consumer confidence in reopening and decrease risk of subsequent infection, every child care, Pre-K Counts and Head Start program must be required to attend free training on the practices needed to sanitize all spaces in which children and staff are working, and funding must be provided so publicly-funded programs are able to clean before re-opening. Finally, legislation must be passed to impose an immunity from tort liability associated with claims related to COVID-19 for all certified child care providers. Sen. Pat Stefano has filed a co-sponsorship memo seeking support for a proposal that will provide liability protection for Pennsylvania businesses and potentially help protect the viability of child care centers during and after the pandemic.

PPC is working with their partners in the campaigns to educate the legislature and administration on the need for swift action on the stimulus recommendations in order to ensure that parents returning to work once the current crisis is abated have reliable, quality child care. Stay tuned for updates.

Farmers Market Season is Here, Markets Prepared to Safely Serve Pennsylvanians Amid COVID-19

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today reminded Pennsylvanians that with spring and warm weather comes farmers market season in the commonwealth. Farmers markets, like grocery stores, offer life-sustaining food and essentials and have been provided guidance from the department for how to continue operations safely and with minimal risk amid the COVID-19 public health crisis.

When Governor Tom Wolf first designated agriculture and the supply chain as life sustaining, tthe Department of Agriculture issued guidance for Farmers Markets and On-Farm Markets with recommendations on how to continue operations safely and minimize contact for shoppers and employees. The guidance includes:

  • Offer delivery or pick up options and online or phone ordering if possible.
  • Pre-package bags of fruit, vegetables, and other items to limit shoppers’ handling food and keep customers moving quickly.
  • Offer designated times for high-risk and elderly persons to shop at least once a week.
  • Communicate with consumers via website or social media to explain changes, delivery options, or other extra precautions to mitigate against COVID-19.
  • Separate stands to limit crowds and consider limiting the number of customers in the market at one time.
  • If possible, have a different person handle products and handle money, or wash hands and sanitize between tasks.
  • Remove tablecloths and eliminate samples and eating areas.

Pennsylvanians interested in supporting local can find a market by visiting or by looking for the PA Preferred® logo when shopping in a grocery store for a guarantee that you’re supporting a Pennsylvania farmer.

New Frequently Asked Questions on EMTALA

CMS issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) clarifying requirements and considerations for hospitals and other providers related to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAQs address questions around patient presentation to the emergency department, EMTALA applicability across facility types, qualified medical professionals, medical screening exams, patient transfer and stabilization, telehealth, and other topics.

Frequently Asked Questions

New and Expanded Flexibilities for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) MLN Matters Article

A revised MLN Matters Special Edition Article SE20016 on New and Expanded Flexibilities for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) is available. Learn new information on billing for distant site telehealth services during the COVID-19 PHE, including:

  • New telehealth services that can be provided by RHCs and FQHCs, including audio only telephone evaluation and management services
  • Revised bed count methodology for determining the exemption to the RHC payment limit for provider-based RHCs