Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Join Resilient PA, Today!

United Way of Pennsylvania is launching Resilient PA, a coalition open to all who are interested in coming together to foster resilient Pennsylvania youth, families, and communities. Resilient PA’s mission is to work diligently to promote trauma-informed care and systems across sectors as well to advocate for efforts to reduce risk factors and increase protective factors for youth and families. Learn more here.

ACG Updates Colorectal Cancer Guidelines

A recent MedPage article states that the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) has updated their colorectal cancer (CRC) guidelines that they last issued in 2009. The decision was made due to data on colorectal cancer (CRC) screening gathered over the past decade. The new recommendations, published online in the American Journal of Gastroenterologystate that screening should start at age 45 for persons of average risk.

CHWs and Peer Specialists Helping to Address Diabetes Control

A new issue brief showcases the important role of front-line community health workers (CHWs) and peer specialists in leveraging connections with their communities for diabetes control in response to demand and challenges of the COVID-19 health pandemic. MHP Salud and the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), both HRSA-funded National Training and Technical Assistance Partners (NTTAPs), developed the brief.

The Power of the First Impression

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how physicians are being recruited. But whether a first interview is on-site or virtual, it still is critical to master that interview and deliver a first-time “WOW” experience for the right candidate. Jackson Physician Search, in an article on its website, says the first interview is so powerful because first impressions stick and often overwhelm second and third impressions. “It may seem counterintuitive, but follow-up interviews do not necessarily increase the candidate’s feelings of confidence about the job and the likelihood that an offer will be accepted,” the article states.

Pandemic Fueling Interest in Public Health Careers

The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the public health and medical workforces like never before. And yet people in those fields say they see emerging signs that the crisis will inspire the next generation of doctors, nurses, and public health professionals to join the ranks. Public health schools, for example, saw a 23 percent jump in applicants for master’s and doctoral programs from fall 2019 to fall 2020, and are reporting an even bigger increase so far in this application cycle, according to the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.

COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Rates Adjusted

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it is updating the Medicare payment rates for COVID-19 vaccine administration. Effective for services furnished on or after March 15, 2021, the new rate will be approximately $40 to administer each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This represents an increase from approximately $28 to $40 for a single-dose vaccine, and $45 to $80 for vaccines requiring two doses. Exact payment rates depend on the type of entity furnishing the service and will be geographically adjusted based on where the service is furnished. To read more, click here. It is important to note that Medicare vaccine administration payment for FQHCs at the current time will still occur retroactively with the cost report. Also, whether this CMS payment change will also result in a payment increase by Medicaid is still being evaluated by the PA Department of Human Services (DHS). As shared previously, DHS is working on an FQHC/RHC-specific COVID-19 vaccine payment bulletin which has not yet been released but has shared some of the payment policy it will implement with PACHC:

  • For fee-for-service (FFS) billing, PROMISe has been updated to allow FQHCs/RHCs to bill using the administrative codes identified in bulletin Medical Assistance Bulletin 01-20-59, Addition to the Medical Assistance Program Fee Schedule for Administration of SARS-CoV-2 Vaccines. DHS directs that you use your PT/Spec and POS.
  • For HealthChoices Medicaid managed care plans, you will need to check with your contracted MCOs on how to bill.
  • DHS is in the process of requesting CMS approval to use an alternate payment methodology (APM) for all COVID-19 vaccines administered outside of defined requirements for a T1015 visit/encounter billing. (PACHC Note: In other words, if a vaccination visit meets the definition of eligible FQHC/RHC encounter the visit is billable as a PPS encounter and you do not bill for the vaccine administration separately). The APM would pay vaccinations that are not part of an eligible FQHC encounter at Medicare rates.
  • DHS is directly reimbursing the MCOs for the cost of vaccine administration and expects that MCOs will reimburse at least what DHS is reimbursing. However, FQHCs need to check with each of your MCOs on how they will handle vaccine administrative billing.

Health Alert Network Updates

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has issued several Health Alert Network (HAN) updates in the last week.

Click here for all 2021 Health Alerts, Advisories and Updates.