Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Nominations Sought for National Health IT Advisory Committee

The National Health Information Technology Advisory Committee (HITAC) provides recommendations to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on policies and standards relating to the implementation of a health IT infrastructure. The US GAO is now accepting nominations for HITAC appointments. The GAO will appoint members among health care providers, health IT developers, ancillary healthcare workers, and patient advocates. Members serve 3-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

For additional information, please view the Federal Register announcement.

Interested nominees should submit letters of nomination and resumes to by Aug. 24, 2021.

Shrinking Rural America Faces State Power Struggle

As the new round of Congressional redistricting is around the corner, rural areas with diminishing populations might see that reflected in less power in statehouses and Congress.

This article was produced by Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

As states turn to drawing new state legislative and congressional districts after census numbers come out August 12, they’re likely to find that rural, generally conservative areas have shrunk in the past 10 years and stand to lose power in statehouses and Congress.

Stateline analysis of recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates shows rural areas lost 226,000 people, a decline of about 0.5%, between 2010 and 2020, while cities and suburbs grew by about 21 million people or eight percent. Only Hawaii, where retirees and remote workers are moving to rural islands, and Montana, which is drawing remote workers from pricey Washington state, saw more rural than urban growth.

Republican state legislatures will try to draw districts that preserve the political power of mostly conservative rural voters, but that task will become increasingly difficult as the population balance shifts toward cities.

Read more.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Availability of Up To $500 Million in Emergency Rural Health Care Funds Under the American Rescue Plan

Funding Will Expand Access to COVID-19 Vaccines, Health Care Services and Food Assistance in Rural America

The Biden-Harris Administration announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making up to $500 million available in grants to help rural health care facilities, tribes and communities expand access to COVID-19 vaccines, health care services and nutrition assistance.

President Biden’s comprehensive plan to recover the economy and deliver relief to the American people is changing the course of the pandemic and providing immediate relief to millions of households, growing the economy and addressing the stark, intergenerational inequities that have worsened in the wake of COVID-19.

“Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is playing a critical role to help rural America build back better and equitably as the nation continues to respond to the pandemic,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “Through the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants, USDA will help rural hospitals and local communities increase access to COVID-19 vaccines and testing, medical supplies, telehealth, and food assistance, and support the construction or renovation of rural health care facilities. These investments will also help improve the long-term viability of rural health care providers across the nation.”


Applicants may apply for two types of assistance: Recovery Grants and Impact Grants.

The Biden-Harris Administration is making Recovery Grants available to help public bodies, nonprofit organizations and tribes provide immediate COVID-19 relief to support rural hospitals, health care clinics and local communities.

These funds may be used to increase COVID-19 vaccine distribution and telehealth capabilities; purchase medical supplies; replace revenue lost during the pandemic; build and rehabilitate temporary or permanent structures for health care services; support staffing needs for vaccine administration and testing; and support facility and operations expenses associated with food banks and food distribution facilities. Recovery Grant applications will be accepted on a continual basis until funds are expended.

The Administration also is making Impact Grants available to help regional partnerships, public bodies, nonprofits and tribes solve regional rural health care problems and build a stronger, more sustainable rural health care system in response to the pandemic.

USDA encourages applicants to plan and implement strategies to:

  • develop health care systems that offer a blend of behavioral care, primary care and other medical services;
  • support health care as an anchor institution in small communities; and
  • expand telehealth, electronic health data sharing, workforce development, transportation, paramedicine, obstetrics, behavioral health, farmworker health care and cooperative home care.

Impact Grant applications must be submitted to your local USDA Rural Development State Office by 4:00 p.m. local time on Oct. 12, 2021.

For additional information, please see the notice (PDF, 343 KB) in today’s Federal Register. USDA encourages potential applicants to review the application guide at

2020 Census Redistricting Data Released

On August 12, the Census Bureau held a news conference on the release of the 2020 Census Redistricting Data. Please click on the following link for background on the news conference, as well as information on how to access and watch the news conference – News Conference on Release of 2020 Census Redistricting Data

The 2020 Census Redistricting Data (P.L. 94-171) Summary Files will be published on the Census Bureau’s File Transfer Protocol (FTP) site shortly after the start of the news conference. This will be followed by the release of the 2020 Census Demographic Data Map Viewer (Map Viewer). The Map Viewer will include demographic data (including population counts, population change, race & ethnicity, housing, and group quarters total population) for states, counties, and census tracts.

In addition to the Map Viewer, the Bureau will release the 2020 P.L.94-171 total population counts for select geographies in the QuickFacts application. Links to both applications will be provided on the Decennial Census P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data Summary Files webpage.

Tableau visualizations will also be produced, having state and county data display and ranking capabilities. The accordion menu, which is currently on the bottom of, will move over to the bottom of the Decennial Census P.L. 94-171 Redistricting Data Summary Files webpage on release day. The Tableau visualizations will be published in the accordion menu that says “Visualizations”.

Quick Stats: 2020 Census Pennsylvania Data Changes

The Penn State Data Center provided these county and demographic data based on the 2020 Census data that were just release.

Pennsylvania grew by 2.4% over the last decade 

Between 2010 and 2020, Pennsylvania’s population grew from 12,702,379 to 13,002,700, an increase of 300,321 or 2.4%. Over this same period, 44 Pennsylvania counties lost population and 23 grew.

Philadelphia County is still the largest county in the state 

Philadelphia county is the most populous county in Pennsylvania, with a 2020 Census population of 1,603,797, an increase of 5.1% since 2010. The second largest county remains Allegheny County with 1,250,578 people, an increase of 2.2% since 2010. The five largest counties in Pennsylvania remained the same in 2020 as they were in 2010:

  • Philadelphia: 1,603,797
  • Allegheny: 1,250,578
  • Montgomery: 856,553
  • Bucks: 646,538
  • Delaware: 576,830

Four of the top five counties grew faster than the state. Only Allegheny grew at a slower rate than the state overall. Philadelphia dropped from the fifth to the sixth largest city in the country in 2020, with Phoenix Arizona moving up to fifth.

Cameron County remains the least populous county in Pennsylvania

The five smallest Pennsylvania counties in 2020 are the same as in 2010:

  • Cameron: 4,547
  • Sullivan: 5,840
  • Forest: 6,973
  • Fulton: 14,556
  • Potter: 16,396

All of these counties had population losses over the decade. Cameron saw the largest percent decline (10.6%) , while Potter had the largest numeric decline among the group (1,061).

Fasting-growing counties in Pennsylvania: 

After a decade of population estimates suggesting that Lancaster County was among the top five fastest-growing counties, Montgomery and Dauphin counties grew at a faster rate according to today’s results. Only Cumberland County grew at a rate above 10%. The five fastest-growing counties in Pennsylvania from 2010-2020 were:

  • Cumberland: 10.2%
  • Lebanon: 7.3%
  • Lehigh: 7.2%
  • Chester: 7.1%
  • Montgomery: 7.1%

Largest population losses in Pennsylvania counties 

44 counties in Pennsylvania lost population over the decade. The counties with the largest numeric declines were:

  • Westmoreland: -10,506
  • Cambria: -10,207
  • Erie: -9,690
  • Fayette: -7,802
  • Mercer: -5,986

The racial/ethnic composition of Pennsylvania in 2020 (from largest to smallest)

  • White: 75.0%
  • Black: 10.9%
  • Hispanic: 8.1%
  • Multiracial: 6.0%
  • Asian: 3.9%
  • Some other race: 3.9%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native: 0.2%

People With Medicare Who Are Immunocompromised Would be Able to Receive an Additional COVID-19 Dose At No Cost

In response to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent action that authorizes an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised individuals, CMS is assuring people with Medicare who qualify for an additional dose that they can receive it with no cost sharing. This is part of President Biden’s commitment that patients have access to the necessary vaccinations to protect themselves from COVID-19.

Medicare would pay for administering an additional dose of COVID-19 vaccines consistent with the modified FDA emergency use authorization (EUA) that was announced today. For COVID-19 vaccines administered on or after March 15, 2021, the national average payment rate for physicians, hospitals, pharmacies and many other immunizers is $40 to administer each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Medicare program would continue to pay providers $40 to administer this additional dose – the same amount as paid for other doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

CMS will share more information and guidance in the coming days about billing and coding for the additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised patients.

For additional information:

Request Free Oral Health Materials from PCOH

The PA Coalition for Oral Health (PCOH) is launching our new online resource page for stakeholders. Oral health materials are available as pdf downloads and printed copies at no cost. Materials include oral health flyers, posters, and magnets covering the topics of general oral health, kids’ oral health, tobacco and nicotine, workforce, and fluoride.

Click here to visit the page.

World Health Organization Releases Global Strategy on Oral Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) released their “Global Strategy on Oral Health.” The Chief Dental Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service is requesting comments on the document/strategy by September 10, 2021 via email. A compilation of comments will then be send to the WHO through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Global Affairs.

Click here to read the document.
Click here to submit comments.

Federal Funding: $300 Million Available for Coal-Impacted Communities

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced its plan to invest $3 billion in communities through the American Rescue Plan. Through EDA’s “Coal Communities Commitment,” $300 million of that funding will go directly to areas recovering from both COVID-19 and transitioning from coal-based economies.

This exciting funding opportunity is in partnership with President Biden’s Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Plant Communities, of which ARC’s Federal Co-Chair is a member. The IWG has started facilitating listening sessions in coal communities across the country, some of which are in Appalachia. During today’s virtual workshop, which focused on revitalizing Western Pennsylvania’s energy communities, Co-Chair Manchin noted, “each of Pennsylvania’s 52 Appalachian counties possess opportunities, as well as challenges. We have worked very closely with Governor Wolf and his team, and Sheri Collins to support projects for coal-impacted communities in Pennsylvania.”

If you’re interested in applying but unsure how to get started, EDA and National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are hosting a free virtual workshop on August 18 focusing on revitalizing West Virginia’s energy communities. Register here. Check out their new website, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, for updates.

Visit for Information About COVID-19 for EMS Systems and Clinicians!

Resources include guidance documents, links to the latest from the CDC, and information about vaccine safety and administration

With cases of COVID-19 surging again across the country, EMS clinicians and leaders may once again be responding to increased numbers of PUIs, have questions about handling exposures, and be looking for information about coronavirus vaccines.

The COVID-19 Resources for EMS page continues to provide a number of helpful tools, on topics ranging from crisis standards of care to first responder mental health. The source of each resource is clearly identified, including documents created by the Federal Healthcare Resilience Working Group EMS/Prehospital Team.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of EMS once again would like to thank EMS clinicians and our public safety and healthcare colleagues across the country for your dedicated service. What you do is vital to our communities and our nation. We urge you to take steps to ensure the health and safety of you, your patients and your families and protect yourself from COVID-19, stress, and other dangers.

Please contact with questions or comments.

Learn more.