Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Foster Children Face Barriers to Good Oral Health

According to a study that was recently published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, youths with a history of foster care are more at risk of having poor oral health and are less likely to see a dentist for a specific dental problem or for routine care than those who have not been in foster care.

Wearable Technology in Healthcare

The Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) recently completed a survey that revealed what has providers delighted and concerned about the possibilities for integrating wearable technology into healthcare practice. The benefit of wearable technology is important due to:

  • It is personal since they are present in moments of a patient’s life when other technology is not
  • It can be programmed to help wearers track their healthy decisions and set goals, hopefully helping impact development of chronic diseases sch as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease (as well as help those with the conditions to remain healthier.)
  • It provides just-in-time coaching that helps to create positive habits, such as step counting.
  • It is, for the most part, affordable.

Explore the results of the survey by clicking here.

Newer Apple iPhones and Implantable Device Potential Issues

According to an analysis recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, certain newer Apple iPhones are built with internal magnets that can significantly interfere with the function of cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs). During the small study it found that 11 of 14 CIEDs experienced interference when an iPhone 12 Max Pro was held within 1.5 cm to the cardiac device—even when in the manufacturer’s sealed package. These newer magnets are used to allow the phones to charge wirelessly and are stronger than magnets in earlier iPhones. Up until now, cell phones were found to pose little risk in interference with CIED function.

Medicare Drug Costs Soar Over 5-Year Period

According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee, the amount spent on Medicare drugs dispensed at pharmacies increased 26 percent from 2013 through 2018. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) is an independent congressional agency established by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 to advise the U.S. Congress on issues affecting the Medicare program. In addition to advising the Congress on payments to health plans participating in the Medicare Advantage program and providers in Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service program, MedPAC is also tasked with analyzing access to care, quality of care and other issues affecting Medicare. Read the report.

Johnson & Johnson Expiration Dates Extended

The Food & Drug Administration authorized an extension of the shelf life for the Janssen/J&J COVID-19 vaccine from 3 months to 4.5 months (an additional 6 weeks). The decision is based on data from ongoing stability assessment studies, which have demonstrated that the vaccine is stable at 4.5 months when refrigerated at temperatures of 36 – 46 degrees Fahrenheit (2 – 8 degrees Celsius). Vaccine providers should visit to confirm the latest expiration dates of vaccine. This extension applies to refrigerated vials of Janssen/J&J COVID-19 vaccine that have been held in accordance with the manufacturer’s storage conditions.

HRSA Issues SAC NOFO for March 1 Starts

HRSA released fiscal year (FY) 2022 Service Area Competition (SAC) notice of funding opportunity (NOFO), HRSA-22-004, for service areas with a March 1, 2022, project period start date. Find details for the announced service areas on the Service Area Announcement Table. This NOFO announces the service areas for March 1 start award recipients that received a 1-year period of performance through a SAC/SAC-Additional Areas in FY 2021 and March 1 start award recipients that were given a 1-year extension due to the COVID-19 pandemic in FY 2021. Technical assistance materials are available on the SAC TA webpage. Application Deadline: by 11:59 pm Aug. 13; EHBs by 5:00 pm Sept. 13, 2021.

HRSA Updates H8F Funding FAQs to Address Patient Incentives and Child Care

On June 9, 2021, HRSA updated its guidance on American Rescue Plan Act funding for health centers under the H8F Category (funding to prevent, mitigate, and respond to COVID-19 and enhance health care services and infrastructure). Visit here to understand the latest regarding allowed and unallowed activities. Health centers also should be aware of the following provisions:

  • Health centers may use non-grant funds or leverage partnerships with or donations from other community organizations or businesses to offer small rewards to individuals as an incentive for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Health centers may use H8F funds to provide incentive items; written health center policies or procedures must support the use of such funds for incentive costs.
  • H8F funds may not be used for cash gift cards, food, or other costs prohibited under 45 CFR 75 (the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for HHS Awards) or other federal regulations.
  • H8F funds may be used to provide childcare for parents while being vaccinated by the health center; however, note that this activity differs from daycare (which would fall outside the Health Center Program scope of project).

HHS Updates PRF Spending and Reporting Guidance 

On June 11, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released additional guidance for Provider Relief Fund (PRF) recipients through its latest Post-Payment Notice of Reporting Requirements. In the Notice, HHS indicates that:

  • Providers that received funds between April 10, 2020, and June 30, 2020, were still expected to spend funds by June 30, 2021. This provision applies to almost all health centers because of when the funds were initially received. Please note that the reporting deadline for funds in this period has now been extended from July 31, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2021.
  • Providers that received funding after June 30, 2020, had their deadlines to expend funds extended based on when they were received.

Please be sure to review the HHS Notice of Reporting Requirements for complete details to determine your health center’s respective spending and reporting deadlines.

2019 Public Charge Final Rule No Longer in Effect

The 2019 Public Charge Final Rule is no longer in effect. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Department of Homeland Security stopped applying it to all pending applications and petitions on Tuesday, March 9. The 2019 rule applied to legal immigrants seeking legal permanent residence. It added enrollment in Medicaid, public housing, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as grounds that could lead to public charge inadmissibility. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey noted changes in coverage and service use among immigrant health center patients because of the rule.

Pennsylvania Publishes Proposed Regulation on Interrelationship of Providers

On June 10, Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission published a regulation to amend Title 55 of the Pennsylvania Code (Pa. Code), Chapter 1101, by removing the section which prohibits a provider from leasing or renting space, shelves or equipment in the provider’s office to another provider or allowing the placement of paid or unpaid staff of another provider in the provider’s office. This proposed regulation will allow providers that are co-located to enroll or remain enrolled in the Medical Assistance (MA) Program without the need for a Secretarial waiver or the submission of an attestation. The proposed regulation also enhances the delivery of healthcare services to Medical Assistance beneficiaries by enabling them to receive services from more than one provider at the same location if they choose to do so. Interested parties may comment on the regulation for 30 days following publication. The final form regulation is expected to be published in the Spring of 2022.