Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Sliding Coinsurance for CMS/Medicare Care Management Services

While health centers are required to impose Medicare coinsurance for Medicare care management services, the coinsurance may be “slid” commensurate with the sliding fee discount program (SFDP) policy of the health center. Federal anti-kickback statutes and beneficiary inducement prohibitions include exceptions allowing health centers to discount coinsurance for patients who are eligible for the health center’s sliding fee discount program without violating Medicare rules. To assist health centers in compliance, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), a HRSA-funded National Training and Technical Assistance Partner (NTTAP), shares GUIDANCE Sliding Coinsurance for CMS/Medicare Care Management Services.

Public Charge Regulation Back in Effect with Exceptions

The public charge litigation roller coaster continues. On July 29, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a nationwide injunction blocking the federal government from implementing the public charge rule during the COVID Public Health Emergency. Then on Aug. 12, a Circuit Court judge narrowed the District court’s ruling, applying the injunction only in New York, Connecticut and Vermont. The regulation’s status may continue to change as other cases work their way through the courts.

State Releases Health Disparity Report

In mid-April, Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Governor John Fetterman announced the creation of a COVID-19 Response Task Force for Health Disparity to help communicate issues about how the pandemic is affecting the state’s minority and marginalized populations. After months of weekly meetings and outreach from task force members to marginalized community members, the task force completed its report and presented it to the governor earlier this week. The report includes six recommendations focused on these policy topics related to health disparity, ranked in order of urgency: housing, criminal justice, food insecurity, health disparity, education and economic opportunities. According to the report, each area either directly or indirectly affects the health of Pennsylvanians and must be addressed to appropriately remove the disparities that have existed for generations and have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. The work of the task force will help inform an internal steering committee on dismantling racism that Gov. Wolf established recently. Read the Governor’s press release.

Pennsylvania Set to Launch Contact Tracing App

This week, the commonwealth announced plans to launch a coronavirus exposure-notification app in early Sept. to more quickly break chains of transmission by using the new technology to notify people who may have been exposed. The state has a $1.9 million contract, using federal grant dollars, to deploy and maintain the app with software developer NearForm Ltd, the Ireland-based company whose app there has been downloaded by more than one-fourth of that country’s residents. The app is based on smartphone technology developed by Apple and Google, and will undergo a pilot project next week using state government employees and public health students, staff and faculty. In Sept., you can find the COVID Alert PA app for free to download in the Google Play store or Apple App store. This app is voluntary, but the more Pennsylvanians age 18 and older who adopt the app, the more successful efforts can be. The app does not enable any location services and is designed to be completely anonymous.

NACCHO National Profile of Local Health Departments

The National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) received funding support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to profile approximately 2,800 local health departments (LHDs) across the country.  Each LHD is coded as urban or rural based on the population it serves.  Find more information here.

Catch-Up to Get Ahead on Childhood Immunizations

In support of National Immunization Awareness Month, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recently launched Catch-Up to Get Ahead: A National Immunization Initiative for Children. This campaign aims to increase childhood immunization rates in the wake of significant declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Use messages and graphics in the Catch-Up to Get Ahead Toolkit to help spread awareness to parents and caregivers.