Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

USDA Extends COVID-19 Relief for Single-Family Housing Borrowers

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson announced that the Department is extending the COVID-19 Special Relief Measure for USDA’s Single-Family Housing Guaranteed Loan borrowers.

The USDA COVID-19 Special Relief Measure provides new alternatives for borrowers to help them achieve up to a 20 percent reduction in their monthly principal and interest payments. New options include an interest rate reduction, term extension and a mortgage recovery advance, which can help cover past due mortgage payments and related costs.

Borrowers will first be assessed for an interest rate reduction, and if additional relief is still needed, the borrowers will be considered for a combination rate reduction and term extension. In cases where a combination of rate reduction and term extension is not enough to achieve a 20 percent payment reduction, a third option combining the rate reduction and term extension with a mortgage recovery advance may be used to reach the target payment.

In addition, the Department of Treasury’s Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), a critical component of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, provides $9.961 billion to states, Washington, D.C., territories and Tribes for relief to homeowners impacted by the COVID-19 economic crisis. These funds can be used for assistance with mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, utility payments and other specified purposes. Homeowners can access these funds in addition to the payment reduction options discussed above.

For more information, see the White House Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Announces Additional Actions to Prevent Foreclosures.

If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

New Pocket Guides from MidAtlantic AETC Available

The MidAtlantic Aids Education and Training Center (AETC) has created several new pocket guides on the following topics:

  • Rapid Initiation of HIV Treatment
  • HIV and Medication Assisted Treatment Centers (MAT)
  • Differential Diagnosis of HIV and SARS-COV-2
  • Best Practices & Tips for Clinicians Providing Care for Patients with HIV via Telehealth
  • Integrating Geriatric Principles into an HIV Clinic
  • Workplace Burnout Guide for Health Professionals
  • Addressing Social Determinants of Health and Persons with HIV

The pocket guides were created by Dr. Linda Frank and the regional partners of the MidAtlantic AETC and are available for download here or with all of their pocket guides and clinical tools by clicking here.

Status of Cancer Annual Report to the Nation Released

The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer was recently released and contains some good and bad news. The good news – mortality rates for lung cancer in the United States rapidly declined from 2001 to 2018. Among the bad news- age-standardized oral and pharyngeal cancer incidence rates increased during that period and pharyngeal mortality rates also increased for men but dropped slightly for women. The incidence of most smoking-related cancers (lung, larynx, bladder) has been declining in the U.S. largely due to the declining prevalence of smoking.

Read more.

Telehealth Essential for Millions to Continue Access to Health Care Once Pandemic is Over

A new report and infographic from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) present recently collected survey data on community health center experiences with audio-only telehealth during the pandemic. The report examines the lifeline telehealth provided for health centers and patients during the pandemic and stresses that unless lawmakers ensure the emergency flexibilities granted during the public health crisis continue, millions of patients could lose access to care. See the infographic for a summary of the impact of termination of emergency flexibilities.

Out of Reach 2021: The High Cost of Housing Report

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) recently released Out of Reach 2021: The High Cost of Housing. This report highlights the mismatch between the wages people earn and the price of decent rental housing in every state, metropolitan area, and county in the U.S. This robust report and data are extremely valuable in making the case for rental assistance, affordable housing, and livable wages among other important policy priorities. The report also includes housing cost and wage data specific for Pennsylvania and our counties. Explore the full report that includes an interactive website with an easy-to-use search function for data by metropolitan-area ZIP codes.

New Pennsylvania Law Increases Access to Medicaid Workers with Disabilities

On July 1, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law Act 69 of 2021 formally Senate Bill 156. This Act increases earning eligibility under the Medicaid Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) program. Dollars earned over the cap will move contributions into a new category instead of eliminating eligibility and covers workers from 250% of the federal poverty level to 600% or about $75,000.  Workers will pay 7.5% of their income to the MAWD program to cover their healthcare, which is a 2.5% increase from the current 5%. This means, when a worker earns $75,000 annually, they will pay 100% of the average cost of the MAWD program.

Young Invincibles Releases State of Enrollment Report

The current enrollment landscape is and has been quite tumultuous. With many trying to return to a regular routine, taking a step back and looking at what we learned about enrollment assistance during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic is key. With millions losing job-based health insurance, assisters stepped up to the plate, creating new and initiative ways to conduct enrollment, outreach virtually, harnessing the power of social media, and continued to enroll despite lack of internet or Wi-Fi access or the ability to meet in-person with those who needed assistance the most. Young Invincibles, founded by a group of students in 2009, is a network of advocates committed to educating young adults on all aspects of life from finances to the importance of health insurance coverage to making smart economic choices to build a better future. This new report discusses the current enrollment landscape, COVID-19 enrollment, and highlights some federal policy recommendations.

Read the full State of Enrollment Report.

Pennsylvania Medicaid Enrollment Continues to Climb

Enrollment statewide for Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program has increased by 456,330 people since March 2020 for a total enrollment of 3,330,144 people in June 2021. This represents an almost 15 percent increase. Of these enrollments, 957,812 are enrolled due to Medicaid expansion. Enrollment in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) peaked in May 2020 and has steadily decreased as children enrolled in Medical Assistance have increased by 11 percent since the beginning of the public health emergency declaration.