Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Dental Handbook on Nutritional Counseling for Obesity Prevention 

Temple University Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry in Philadelphia has developed Nutritional Counseling for Obesity Prevention (NCOP) in Children: A Handbook for the Dental Community. This handbook is an evidence-based resource that will increase the knowledge and skills of healthcare professionals in childhood obesity prevention, healthy nutrition, and dietary counseling. The handbook also has a NCOP screener that can be integrated into electronic health record systems to help identify children who are at high risk for both dental caries and obesity. This useful resource for community health centers is available at no cost.

Get the Word Out – “No One Has Time for Flu” 

The Ad Council partnered with fluent360, a creative agency based in Chicago, to develop the creative concept and materials for the No One Has Time for Flu campaign. The Public Services Announcements (PSAs) highlight the different circumstances many people are experiencing as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that, now, more than ever, no one has time to be sick with flu. Also visit the website for Get My Flu Shot.

Important Program Year 2020 Attestation Dates and Deadlines in Pennsylvania

Here are some important dates to remember for the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Promoting Interoperability Program:

  • Eligible Professionals (EPs) may attest for PY 2020 until March 31, 2021
  • The Electronic Health Record Meaningful Use (EHR MU) reporting period is a minimum of any continuous 90 days between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020
  • The EHR Clinical Quality Measure (CQM) reporting period is a minimum of any continuous 90 days for all providers regardless of previous MU attestation history.
  • The last reporting period for Program Year 2020 is Oct. 3 – Dec. 31, 2020

NHSC Loan Repayment Program Applicants Can Receive Award Preference

Two HRSA National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment programs-–the NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program (LRP) and NHSC Rural Community LRP–give award preference to program applicants who have obtained DATA 2000 waivers. These programs provide opportunities for clinicians working at NHSC-approved sites to receive up to $100,000 in loan repayment funds in exchange for three years of service. The application cycles open in early 2021. To provide this training, NSHC collaborates with the Providers Clinical Support System to connect behavioral health clinicians to free medication-assisted treatment training and professional development resources. Learn more about the NHSC-PCSS Collaboration and be ready to apply to an LRP with award preference.

Waived and Suspended Pennsylvania Licensing Regulations

Due to the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”), additional healthcare practitioners are still needed to treat ill Pennsylvanians. This need may extend beyond the capacity of the professionals currently licensed by Pennsylvania’s health-licensing boards. To increase the available number of practitioners, the Department of State requested a suspension from Governor Wolf to several provisions that create barriers to temporary licensure. The following list provides information on extensions for healthcare professionals that were published in December 2020. Click here for a complete list.

Nearly 8 Million Americans Have Fallen into Poverty Since the Summer

The U.S. poverty rate has surged over the past five months, with 7.8 million Americans falling into poverty, the latest indication of how deeply many are struggling after government aid dwindled. The poverty rate jumped to 11.7 percent in November, up 2.4 percentage points since June, according to new data released Wednesday by researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame. Read more.

Flu Activity in Pennsylvania Low to Date

Across Pennsylvania a total of 767 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases have been reported to date in 49 counties. The percent of outpatient visits associated with influenza-like illness has been low and is still below the state epidemic threshold. A total of 17 influenza associated hospitalizations and six deaths have been reported in Pennsylvania during the current flu season. Social distancing and wearing of masks–key elements of the COVID-19 strategy–are believed to be factors in the low flu rate. The confirmed influenza laboratory tests received by the PA DOH Surveillance will be updated when numbers per county increase to a level that protects the confidentiality of the patients’ health information. For more information, visit the 2020/2021 Influenza Season Data page.

New Studies Highlight FQHC Work During COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published two studies on health centers’ operations during COVID-19. One presents health centers’ high rate of testing racial and ethnic minority groups, highlighting the role health centers have played in providing testing to communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and their greater work towards overcoming structural inequities. The other study discusses health centers’ adoption of telehealth during the pandemic. Both demonstrate health centers’ vital work on the frontlines since the pandemic began.

COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Added to State Medicaid Program Fee Schedule

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Medical Assistance Programs has issued a new MA Bulletin 01-20-59 to inform Medical Assistance (MA) providers that the Department of Human Services (DHS) added Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes 0001A, 0002A, 0011A and 0012A to the MA Program Fee Schedule for the administration of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) vaccines in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, effective Dec. 1, 2020.

Pennsylvania Publishes Proposed TANF Rule

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) published a proposed rule in the Pennsylvania Bulletin to expand the types of interviews available to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants and recipients to meet application and redetermination requirements. The proposed rulemaking removes the need for a face-to-face interview and adds a definition for ”personal interview,” which will enable TANF applicants and recipients to participate in required interviews by phone, in person or by other means approved by DHS. This change will make the TANF interview process more flexible, efficient and accessible for applicants and recipients. Comments on the rule are due 30 days after publication.