Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Pennsylvania Community Water Fluoridation Map Launched

The Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health (PCOH) is excited to share an interactive community water fluoridation map for Pennsylvania. PCOH has been collaborating on this project with the University of Pittsburgh School of Dentistry and the Pittsburgh Collaboratory for Water Research, Education, & Outreach. The story map has three tabs with the first being informational. The second tab allows individuals to search for water system by typing in an address. The third tab is interactive and allows individuals to zoom in and out and to add and remove layers of information such as water system name, fluoridation status, legislative districts, municipal and county boundaries, school districts, and dental health provider shortage areas (DHPSAs). There is also a corresponding brief to go along with the map,
“In the Fight Against Tooth Decay: May the Fluoride Be With You!”

Click here to access the map.
Click here to read the brief. 

Pennsylvania Statewide Dental Access Coordination Report

The Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health (PCOH) is pleased to announce the March 2021 publication of “Statewide Dental Access Coordination: A Report for Pennsylvania”. With support from a Highmark Foundation planning grant, PCOH set out to learn how Pennsylvanians find dental care, what issues prevent them from finding or scheduling an appointment with a dental provider, and whether it is feasible to identify or create a single, easily accessible resource to connect Pennsylvanians in need of dental care with the providers who want to serve them. The findings are discussed and summarized in the report.

Click here to read the news release.
Click here to read the final report.

Pennsylvania Leadership Launches Public-Private Partnership to Vaccinate Mushroom Farmworkers 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania’s nation-leading mushroom industry stepped up to the plate to both feed America and keep their workers safe. Now, after a collaborative effort by the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Health, the American Mushroom Institute, LCH Health and Community Services, and the Chester County Health Department, mushroom farmworkers are scheduled to receive the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Following updated guidance announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Pennsylvania Department of Health has notified all COVID-19 vaccine providers that the pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine has been lifted.

“From day one of this pandemic we labeled agriculture as life-sustaining, but that label came with a heavy responsibility to keep food available and safe – we all relied on it,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “We all have a new appreciation for who is feeding us now – the people who grow and pack and process our food. We need them to be protected so that our food supply is protected.

“The American Mushroom Institute recognized both needs – they’ve worked hard to educate their workforce about the vaccine and boost confidence in the science. They now have a workforce who wants protection,” added Redding.

Pennsylvania is home to more than 60,000 farmworkers – both citizen and migrant – who work to ensure Pennsylvania’s farms run efficiently and produce food to feed the nation. Pennsylvania’s mushroom industry leads the nation in production, with nearly 60% of all mushroom production occurring in and around Chester County. The industry supports nearly 9,000 jobs and contributes $1.1 billion to the economy.

These farmworkers became eligible for vaccine as part of the commonwealth’s expanded special initiative to vaccinate frontline workers.

“Farmworkers play an important role in keeping the food supply flowing,” said Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam. “By bringing the COVID-19 vaccine directly to the mushroom farmworkers we are ensuring part of our food supply chain and helping to protect thousands of people doing critical work.”

The commonwealth has dedicated more than 5,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to farmworkers of the American Mushroom Institute network. The vaccinations are scheduled to take place through mid-May and will serve multiple farms and packing houses.

“We greatly appreciate the PA Department of Health and Department of Agriculture for their commitment in helping to bring much-needed vaccines to the mushroom farming community’s workers,” said Rachel Roberts, president of the American Mushroom Institute. “These front-line workers have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to harvest, pack, and transport fresh mushrooms to for consumers around the country. We welcome this effort.”

With the majority of the mushroom farmworker workforce being Latinx and Spanish-speaking, the partnership with LCH Health and Community Services – the local federally qualified healthcare center that serves much of the Chester County-area migrant worker population – is critical to the success of the vaccination initiative. LCH ensures staff and resources for the farmworkers are bilingual to achieve optimal education for maximum confidence in the vaccine.

“Mushroom farms, related businesses, and the community that relies on them have been a focus of the Chester County Health Department throughout the pandemic,” said Jeanne Franklin, Public Health Director for Chester County. “Working together with the American Mushroom Institute and partners like LCH has helped us to keep our southern Chester County community informed and prepared to meet the challenges of COVID-19, and this support from the State certainly advances our timeline in the crucial vaccination process.”

The decision to offer on-site delivery of the one-shot vaccine was decided by the essentiality of these workers and the risks they face every day to feed the commonwealth coupled with the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Black and Brown communities and the recognition of barriers like transportation or language access that may have prevented or delayed these workers from accessing the vaccine.

Essential workers who get the COVID-19 vaccine are protecting themselves, their family, their co-workers, and their community. In addition to this, farmworkers who choose to protect their health with the vaccine are also protecting the availability and accessibility of food.

New Publication! Population Health in Rural America: Proceedings of a Workshop

ural America is economically, socially, culturally, geographically, and demographically diverse. This multidimensional diversity presents complex challenges and unique opportunities related to delivering health care and improving health outcomes and health equity in rural communities.

To explore issues related to population health in rural America, the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement of the Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a public virtual workshop, “Population Health in Rural America in 2020” on June 24–25, 2020. The workshop planning committee was composed of rural health experts representing public health, health care, and tribal health. Presentations and discussions focused on rural America in context, rural health vital signs, rural health care in action, assessment and implementation strategies for improving the health and health equity in rural populations, and rural health policy.

This Proceedings of a Workshop summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

Download the publication here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources 5/4/21: What Partners Need to Know Now

As COVID-19 vaccines continue rolling out across the country, CMS is taking action to protect the health and safety of our nation’s patients and providers and keeping you updated on the latest COVID-19 resources from HHS, CDC and CMS.

With information coming from many different sources, CMS has up-to-date resources and materials to help you share important and relevant information on the COVID-19 vaccine with the people that you serve. You can find these and more resources on the COVID-19 Partner Resources Page and the HHS COVID Education Campaign page. We look forward to partnering with you to encourage our beneficiaries to get vaccinated when they have the opportunity. For more information, visit the CMS COVID-19 Policies and Guidance page.


CMS, CDC and HHS have released new guidance and resources related to the COVID-19 vaccine to serve our beneficiaries. This important information is highlighted below for our partners to share with providers and consumers.

No Out-of-Pocket Cost for COVID-19 Vaccine. CMS has recently become aware of instances where consumers are being charged to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  We encourage you to remind vaccine providers of the following information as the vaccine becomes more widely available help curb any consumer barriers to receiving a vaccine.


If you participate in the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Program, you must:

  • Administer the vaccine with no out-of-pocket cost to your patients for the vaccine or administration of the vaccine
  • Vaccinate everyone, including the uninsured, regardless of coverage or network status

You also can’t:

  • Balance bill for COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Charge your patients for an office visit or other fee if COVID-19 vaccination is the only medical service given
  • Require additional medical or other services during the visit as a condition for getting a COVID-19 vaccination

Report any potential violations of these requirements to the HHS Office of the Inspector General:

Submit claims for administering COVID-19 vaccines to:

For more information on COVID-19 Vaccine Administration, visit the CMS COVID-19 Vaccine Provider page.

COVID-19 VACCINE CONSUMER REMINDER. In addition, we encourage you to share the information below with consumers to help address issues relating to consumers who may have received a charge or paid for COVID-19 vaccination.

If you paid to get a COVID-19 vaccine: When you get a COVID-19 vaccine, your provider can’t charge you for an office visit or other fee if the vaccine is the only medical service you get. If you get other medical services at the same time you get the COVID-19 vaccine, you may owe a copayment or deductible for those services.

If you paid a fee or got a bill for a COVID-19 vaccine, check this list to see if your provider should have charged you:

  • Check the receipts and statements you get from your provider for any mistakes.
  • Call your provider’s office to ask about any charges you think are incorrect. The person you speak to may help you better understand the services you got, or realize they made a billing error.
  • If you have Original Medicare, review your “Medicare Summary Notice” for errors. Report anything suspicious to Medicare by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
  • If you have other coverage like a Medicare Advantage Plan, review your “Explanation of Benefits.” Report anything suspicious to your insurer.

If you think your provider incorrectly charged you for the COVID-19 vaccine, ask them for a refund. If you think your provider charged you for an office visit or other fee, but the only service you got was a COVID-19 vaccine, report them to the Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of

Health and Human Services by calling 1-800-HHS-TIPS or visiting TIPS.HHS.GOV.


CDC Guidance for Fully Vaccinated People: What you Need to Know.

  • If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing many things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
  • When choosing safer activities, consider how COVID-19 is spreading in your community, the number of people participating in the activity, and the location of the activity.
  • Outdoor visits and activities are safer than indoor activities, and fully vaccinated people can participate in some indoor events safely, without much risk. Additional CDC guidance can be found here.
  • If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, find a COVID-19 near you at

NEW CMS COVID-19 Fraud Resources. CMS just launched new materials to help protect Medicare beneficiaries against COVID-19 vaccine fraud.  Spread the word by sharing the resources, graphics and messaging within your communities:

Building COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence Webinar: Thursday, May 13th from 12:00-1:00 p.m. E.T. – hosted by the CMS Office of Minority Health.

Dr. LaShawn McIver, Director of CMS OMH, will share information and resources to help you address vaccine hesitancy in your community. Dr. McIver will be joined by Dr. Peter Marks, Director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) at FDA, who will give an overview of vaccines and their safety. This webinar will equip you to speak persuasively about the COVID-19 vaccine. Register here:

Please note: You will receive an email with login information from GoToWebinar upon registration. If you do not receive an email in a few days’ time, please contact

For more information on CMS COVID-19 Partner Updates, please contact us:

Getting Vaccinated: More Rural Readers Share Their Experiences

Some drove an hour or more for Covid-19 vaccines, others made appointments at local pharmacies. With shots being administered at community colleges, detention centers, and old square dance clubs, readers report from their communities.

All U.S. adults 16 and older are now eligible to receive Covid-19 vaccines in accordance with the Biden administration’s April 19 deadline for nationwide eligibility.

Three days later, the CDC reported that as of April 22 one third of U.S. adults over 18 were fully vaccinated, and more than half had gotten at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

While this news is encouraging as a whole, rural vaccination rates are lagging behind urban vaccination rates in most states. Currently, about one in four rural residents is completely vaccinated against Covid-19, a proportion 10% lower than that of urban areas.