Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Federal Resources to Improve Living at Home in Rural Areas

On Wednesday, three federal departments – the Departments of Health & Human Services, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development –released a joint informational bulletin summarizing the federal resources available to improve home safety for older adults and people with disabilities in rural areas.  It describes how states can improve accessibility of home environments through Medicaid, programs that can facilitate home repair and modification, initiatives to reduce and prevent falls, resources to support aging in place, and loan opportunities for mortgages and housing repair.

Training Opportunity–Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has released updated curriculum on how to effectively use the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP). Since spring 2018, Quality Insights has been on-site at more than 70 hospitals and clinics across Pennsylvania presenting these live sessions.  Originally Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network was tasked with providing education to the top 25 counties with high overdose rates, but now they are providing this grant-funded curriculum to all counties in Pennsylvania.

Attached is:

  • An introductory letter from the Department of Health outlining the specifics for the education* to be offered through June 2021.

*The education is provided at no cost to you and CME is available for provider participation.

  • A description of each area of focus—called “modules”—for you to review. More detailed information can be located here.



FINAL QI PDMP Intro Letter-August 2020

PDMP Modules and Objectives

CMS Update on FDA Opioid Efforts

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) wants to make you aware of a recent Drug Safety Communication from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA announced it now requires labeling for opioid pain medicine and medicine to treat OUD be updated to recommend that as a routine part of prescribing these medicines, health care professionals should discuss the availability of the overdose reversal drug naloxone with patients and caregivers, both when beginning and renewing treatment.

Additionally, the labeling changes recommend that health care professionals consider prescribing naloxone to patients who are prescribed opioid pain medicines and who are at increased risk of opioid overdose, including those who are also taking benzodiazepines or other medicines that depress the central nervous system; those who have a history of OUD; and those who have experienced a prior opioid overdose.  A naloxone prescription should also be considered for patients prescribed opioids who have household members, including children, or other close contacts at risk for accidental ingestion or opioid overdose.

Using Pharmacists to Provide Care in Rural Areas

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) wrote a blog post highlighting the importance of pharmacists in expanding access to care in rural areas.

The post also provides an overview of the new Pharmacist provider page which provides a state breakdown of scope of practice policy related to pharmacists’ ability to modify prescriptions, prescribe hormonal contraceptives, and prescribe tobacco cessation aids.

The blog post and the website are supported by HRSA through a cooperative agreement with the National Organizations of State and Local Officials (NOSLO).

Rural Health Research Center Finds Continued Declines in Maternity Care in Rural U.S. Counties

A new HRSA-funded University of Minnesota (UMN) study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) finds that rural U.S. counties continue to see declines in hospital-based obstetrics services. Updated data from 2014-2018 shows that an additional 5.7% of rural counties lost obstetric services, on top of the 52.9% of counties that already lacked them.

While UMN pointed to the ongoing trend of losing services as a concern, they also highlighted examples of rural communities successfully supporting births locally. One case study in rural Iowa identified continuity of care and specialized nursing staff as key factors that have enabled their success.

Read the study (PDF – 1.2 MB).

Study Sheds Light on Regional Differences in Infant Mortality Among Black Americans

Infant mortality rates in the USA are highest among Black Americans, yet there are considerable differences between regions of the country. Infant mortality among Blacks is highest in the Midwest and lowest in the West and Northeast. To examine the state and county-level factors that might explain these patterns, researcher Ashley Hirai of MCHB collaborated on a study published in PLOS ONE that was led by Veni Kandasamy, a former HRSA fellow now at John Hopkins University.

The study looked at many factors. When taken together, those factors explained one-third of the regional differences. Factors that “protected” Black infants—or in other words, were associated with lower infant mortality—included: being born in a state with higher levels of Black-White marriage rates (proxy for social integration); being born in a state with higher maternal and child health funding per capita; and, being born in a county with higher levels of Black household income.

To learn more, find the full article in PLOS ONE or contact Ashley Hirai.

New “Catch-up to Get Ahead” Campaign to Promote Childhood Immunizations

In support of National Immunization Awareness Month, HRSA urges health centers and health care providers to “catch-up to get ahead” on childhood immunizations. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to alarming declines in well-child visits and routine immunization rates. This raises the risk for outbreaks and further strain on our nation’s health care system.

In support of National Immunization Awareness Month, HRSA urges health centers and health care providers to “catch-up to get ahead” on childhood immunizations. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to alarming declines in well-child visits and routine immunization rates. This raises the risk for outbreaks and further strain on our nation’s health care system.

Celebrating 85 Years of Title V Grants for Maternal and Child Health

August 14, 1935 marked 85 years since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, which included Title V—Grants to States for Maternal and Child Welfare. Since then, Title V has formed the foundation of the public health system for mothers, children and families in the United States.

Today, Title V programs touch nearly every U.S. family. In FY 2018, the Title V federal/state partnership served 99% of infants, 91% of pregnant women, and 54% of all children, including children with special health care needs. Over the past eight decades, Title V has contributed to notable improvements in reducing infant mortality and maternal mortality and morbidity, preventing child and adolescent deaths and injuries, and increasing the number of children receiving health assessments and immunizations.

HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau recognizes the contributions of Title V leaders and MCH partners nationwide and looks forward to continuing to improve the health and well-being of America’s mothers, children and families.

HHS Awards over $35 million to Increase Access to High Quality Health Care in Rural Communities

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded over $35 million to more than 50 rural organizations across 33 states as part of a sustained federal effort to increase access to high quality care in rural communities.  The awards reflect investments in key areas including telehealth, health workforce training, health research, technical assistance for vulnerable rural hospitals and HIV care and treatment.

“President Trump has made it a priority to strengthen rural health infrastructure and promote the health of rural Americans,” said HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan. “As someone who grew up in rural America and with rural healthcare providers in my family, I know the challenges they face, and I know there’s a need for transformation. These awards are in line with the actions the President called for in his Executive Order on Improving Rural Health and Telehealth Access and are part of our overall effort to improve rural access to care in sustainable and innovative ways.”

The awards through HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) include:

  • $8.8 million awarded to 30 organizations across 23 states as part of the Telehealth Network Grant Program (TNGP). Awardees will promote rural tele-emergency services by enhancing emergency care consults from health care providers via telehealth through increased access and training.
  • Nearly $2 million to support the Telehealth Focused Rural Health Research Center (TF RHRC) Program. TF RHRC awardees will carry out a comprehensive evaluation of nationwide telehealth investments in rural areas and populations, and conduct research to expand the evidence base for rural telehealth services.
  • Nearly $1 million to establish the new Rural Telementoring Training Center (RTTC). The RTTC will train academic medical centers and other centers of excellence to create technology-enabled telementoring learning programs to disseminate best practice specialty care to primary care providers in rural and underserved areas.
  • Over $8 million to support the Rural Residency Planning and Development (RRPD) Program across 10 states. Each awardee will focus on strengthening its health care workforce through the development of newly accredited, sustainable rural residency programs in family medicine, internal medicine and psychiatry.
  • Nearly $5 million to support the Rural Health Research Center (RHRC) Program. Each awardee will conduct rural research to assist providers and policymakers at the federal, state and local levels to better understand problems faced by rural communities. The research will inform population health improvement efforts, including health care access and delivery.
  • $10 million to support vulnerable hospitals in rural communities through the Delta Region Community Health Systems Development (DRCHSD) Program. This funding will provide specialized technical assistance to 30 hospitals across 252 counties and parishes served by the Delta Regional Authority, which often have the highest number of hospital closures or hospitals in financial distress.
  • Over $680,000 through the Rural HIV/AIDS Planning Program to develop an integrated rural network for HIV care and treatment in four out of the seven states with the heaviest rural HIV burden. Awardees will implement the Administration’s Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative to target gaps and challenges that stand in the way of early HIV diagnosis and treatment.

“The HRSA programs highlighted today put in practice HHS’ broader vision and plan for transforming the nation’s rural health care system so that it can better support the unique needs of rural communities,” said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels. “Through these HRSA programs and by working hand in hand with our rural partners across the nation, we can improve access, quality and outcomes for rural communities.”

You can view the full press release here

For a list of today’s award recipients, visit:

To learn about the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, visit: