Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Quarterly 340B Program Registration Opens April 1

Quarterly 340B Program site registration is open from April 1 to 15. Health centers will be able to register a site that has been verified as implemented and with a site status reflected as “active” in EHB Form 5B through Friday, May 28. After that date, the system will close to prepare for the July 1 start. Email the 340B Prime Vendor Program or call 888-340-2787 (Monday-Friday, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm) to register a new site or ask questions. You will need to provide the following information when calling: health center name, site/clinic name, site IDs for all sites, HRSA/BPHC grant number, contact name and email address and authorizing official name and email address.

Updates to the Pennie Website

Pennie has made some design changes to its website,

  • The “Connect” tab has been renamed to “Support”
  • Under the tab customers can request help from a Pennie CSR, Broker, or Assister
  • Customers can send messages directly to Pennie
  • Customers have access to the top Frequently Asked Questions
  • Under the SHOP option at, there is now a “Calculate Your Savings” option that uses the Kaiser Family Foundation Tool.
  • Under the LEARN option at, there are FAQs that help customers regarding the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, COVID-19 and data matching issues.

Pennie Issues Joint Statement on ARPA

On March 11, 2021, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department and Pennie, Pennsylvania’s health insurance marketplace, issued a joint statement on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.


“The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will not only provide financial assistance through the forthcoming stimulus checks but will also provide an estimated $270 million in additional subsidies to current Pennie™ customers in 2021 alone. Through this law, marketplace premiums will be capped at 8.5of a household’s income, meaning current Pennie™ customers will see lower monthly premiums and those without coverage or who were previously ineligible will now have access to financial help if they shop at In some cases, lower-income enrollees will have their monthly premiums eliminated entirely. Additionally, anyone who was eligible for unemployment income in 2021 will be eligible for coverage through Pennie™ with a $0 premium for the remainder of the year.


These changes allow Pennie™ to further support current customers and delivers an extraordinary opportunity for individuals seeking coverage to protect themselves and their families as we continue to grapple with the impacts of COVID-19. We will move quickly to implement these changes in the interest of delivering this financial relief as expeditiously as possible.”

Senate Confirms Becerra to Lead HHS

The Senate voted 50-49 to confirm Xavier Becerra as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Becerra, the first Latino to lead HHS, is charged with overseeing the country’s pandemic response while executing the Biden administrator’s health agenda. The vote to confirm Becerra was delayed due to concerns with his lack of healthcare experience, past support for Medicare for All, and abortion. Others were concerned that further delay would hinder the country’s pandemic response. Becerra is currently serving as California’s Attorney General, leaving another appointment up to California Gov. Gavin Newsom. In a tweeted statement following his confirmation, Becerra said he is “honored and humbled by the vote” and “ready to get to work.”

HHS Mask Distribution Program Update

Consistent with President Biden’s national strategy to defeat COVID-19, the Department of Defense, in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will deliver free masks to HRSA-supported health centers and Health Center Program look-alikes. The mask delivery timeframe has been updated to begin by late April. Health centers who want to opt out can do so by contacting Health Center Program Support online or via phone at 877-464-4772, 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, Monday-Friday (except federal holidays).

Pennsylvania Governor Nominates Pennsylvania’s Victim Advocate

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced he has nominated Suzanne V. Estrella, Esq. to serve as Pennsylvania’s Victim Advocate for the Office of Victim Advocate. Estrella possesses more than 20 years of legal experience primarily serving survivors of sexual and domestic violence. For the past five years, Estrella has held positions with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, most recently serving as legal director. In this role she established and oversaw the Sexual Violence Legal Assistance Project which provides comprehensive, short-term civil legal services to victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and sexual assault. She also provided training and education to rape crisis centers and other professionals who serve survivors of sexual assault throughout the commonwealth.

New Resource from the RUPRI Rural Health Value Team

The Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) Rural Health Value team has recently updated their Catalog of Value-Based Initiatives for Rural Providers. The resource includes one-page summaries of various HHS value-based programs appropriate for rural participation. It covers programs implemented by HHS, primarily by CMS and its Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). Recent catalog additions include 1) Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Community Transformation and Accountable Care Organization Tracks 2) the Radiation Oncology Model, and 3) the Value in Opioid Disorder Treatment Model.

Senate Confirms Becerra as HHS Secretary 

The Senate voted to confirm President Biden’s nominee for HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.  The Senate voted 50-49 in favor of Bacerra’s nomination with Susan Collins (R-ME) as the lone Republican supporting his nomination. Xavier Bacerra will be the first Latino HHS Secretary.

NIH Requests Information on Improving the Mental Health of Rural People  

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) seeks input on how the National Institute of Mental Health might learn about and remedy research gaps in knowledge to address mental health disparities in rural people and communities. Comments may be submitted via email to or on the submission website by April 15, 2021. Include the Notice number, NOT-MH-21-190, in the subject line.