Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

State of Oral Health Equity in America 2021 – Report #2 

CareQuest Institute for Oral Health has released their second report that found over half of respondents (57%) in a recent oral health equity survey are willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and 60 percent of those individuals are willing to get the vaccine from a dentist. There has been a lot of discussion on dentists delivering COVID-19 vaccine, so therefore it matters – dentists are uniquely qualified healthcare providers who are extensively trained to perform complex injections. Some other interesting points:

  • Respondents reported they did not have a physical examination in the past two years, but 12% had seen the dentist.
  • Vulnerable and underserved populations, such as those with lower income (less than $30,000 [47%]) and education (less than high school [43%]), Hispanics [50%] and Blacks [42%], and those living in rural areas [49%] report lower rates of vaccine willingness.
  • Dentists can reach patients who are not otherwise receiving the vaccine from a regular medical care provider.

If you would like to read more on dentist’s participation in America’s mass COVID-19 vaccination efforts, click here.

McDonald’s Teams Up with White House on COVID-19 Vaccination

McDonald’s is teaming up with the White House to help get the word out on COVID-19 vaccines. The fast-food chain announced Tuesday it has partnered with the Biden administration to provide customers with access to trusted, independent information on vaccines. The partnership is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to support communities and neighborhoods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FDA Authorizes Pfizer Vaccine for 12-15-Year Olds

As anticipated, the FDA issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for children 12-15 years old to qualify for the Pfizer vaccine and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) reviewed the data and made an official recommendation to use the vaccine for this age group. This means that approximately 750,000 more Pennsylvanians will be eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The emergency use authorization marks a critical milestone in the push to get more Americans vaccinated and fully reopen schools for in-person learning this fall. Moderna is expected to submit it EUA for children 12-15 in July.

OMB Submits Proposed Regulation to Rescind Insulin and EpiPen EO

This week, it was announced on the OMB website that the HRSA Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) has submitted for OMB review a proposed regulation that would rescind the Trump-era rule around FQHCs, insulin and EpiPen’s. While this is a good sign, please know that there are several steps that must be taken before the regulation could actually be rescinded: the Proposed Rule must be published; there will be a public comment period and then BPHC will review the comments and issue a Final Rule.

Public Charge FAQ

In March 2021, the Biden Administration reversed the prior administration’s changes to the public charge immigration policy that prevented some immigrants and their families from accessing public benefits. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has produced a helpful Frequently Asked Questions document to reference. Read more and review the Protecting Immigrant Families Top 5 Facts About Public Charge.

SCOTUS Update: Trump Public Charge Policy Remains Blocked

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) denied a request from Republican state attorneys general seeking to restore the Trump “public charge” regulations that effectively denied millions of immigrants and their families health care and economic support during the COVID-19 pandemic. The attorneys general of Texas and 13 other states filed this motion. As a result of the motion being denied, the Biden administration’s March 2021 reversal of the Trump policy remains in effect.

Pennsylvania Cancels RISE PA Emergency Procurement

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services announced on May 11, 2021, that it has paused the Pennsylvania Resource Information and Services Enterprise (RISE PA) emergency procurement while the department reassesses the tool. RISE PA was a statewide resource and referral tool that sought to create an interactive online platform that would serve as a care coordination system for providers. Aunt Bertha was awarded the contract earlier this year, and the program was supposed to be implemented in the first quarter of 2021.

State Transitions to New COVID-19 Vaccine Map

Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) Acting Secretary Alison Beam announced transition by DOH to using as the mapping source to help individuals find a location where they can get vaccinated close to home and with the vaccine they may prefer. Individuals searching for a vaccine can choose between locations having any of the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. In addition, individuals can text their zip code to GETVAX (438829) for English, or VACUNA (822862) for Spanish and receive three possible vaccination sites in their area, with phone numbers to call for an appointment.

PA Health Department Amends Standing Vaccine Orders

In recognition of the shifting vaccination environment, on May 7, 2021, Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Secretary of Health Beam issued an additional amendment to her Feb. 12 order directing the administration of vaccine. Effective Monday, May 10, this amendment eliminated several of the original provisions within the order including the requirement to administer 80 percent of vaccine within 7 days, the requirement to adhere to the phased approach in the Interim Vaccination Plan, and requirements related to providing and scheduling second doses. In addition, following new CDC guidance issued on May 13, 2021, the PA Department of Health issued an order lifting, for fully vaccinated individuals, much of the mask mandate. It is important to note that wearing a mask in healthcare facilities is still required.

State House Introduces 340B “Pick-Pocketing” Legislation

Rep. Carrie Lewis DelRosso (R-Westmoreland) introduced HB 1319 on April 30. The bill would prohibit imposing fees or reducing reimbursement to Pennsylvania 340B providers just because they are a 340B provider. The bill will protect the intent of the 340B Program by ensuring the savings are directed to our most vulnerable and not pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The bill was referred to the House Health Committee. PACHC is working to arrange meetings with the Governor’s office, House Health Committee staff and House leadership in support of the legislation. Currently, about a dozen states have enacted legislation to protect 340B savings and combat pick-pocketing efforts by prohibiting PBMs from discriminating against 340B covered entities in a variety of ways. Please view this living document jointly developed by NACHC and Colleen Meiman to see recent state-level laws introduced or enacted to protect 340B savings.