Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Primary Care Training and Enhancement-Physician Assistant Rural Training (PCTE-PAR) Program: HRSA-22-044

New Funding Opportunity Available!

Primary Care Training and Enhancement – Physician Assistant Rural Training (PCTE-PAR) Program: HRSA-22-044

The application deadline is December 9, 2021

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) released this new Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) announcement to develop and implement longitudinal clinical rotations for physician assistant students in primary care in rural areas.

The program will also support the training and development of preceptors in rural areas. This experience will provide Physician Assistant (PA) students the opportunity for longitudinal primary care clinical training experiences for a minimum of 8 weeks in rural areas. The program aims to meet the health workforce goal of increasing the distribution of primary care practitioners who are ready to practice in and lead the transformation of health care systems aimed at improving access, quality of care, and cost effectiveness in rural areas.

Up to 7 grantees will receive a total of approximately $2.1 million to support the clinical rotations for physician assistant students in primary care in rural areas.

Visit to apply.

Have questions?

Join the technical assistance webinar:

Date: September 21, 2021 Time: 2:00 – 3:30 PM ET

This webinar will provide information about the NOFO application and requirements.

For dial-in only:

  • Phone Number: 833 568 8864
  • Meeting ID: 161 965 7462
  • Passcode: 77870792

Visit for more information.

Integrating Oral Health Care into Primary Care

The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center and the National Network for Oral Health Access supported the Partnership for Integrating Oral Health Care into Primary Care (PIOHCPC) project. The purpose of the project was to improve access to oral health care by integrating the interprofessional oral health core clinical competencies into primary care. The final report provides information about the implementation of the PIOHCPC project, details project findings and strategies to integrate oral health care into primary care, and highlights technical activities provided to and feedback received from project teams.

Click here to read the report.

New Brief: Changes in Socioeconomic Mix and Health Outcomes in Rural Counties with Hospital Closures, 2005-2018

The Rural and Minority Health Research Center released a new brief that examines the trend of hospital closures between 2005 and 2018 across definitions of rurality. Social, economic, and health structure trends at the county level across the contiguous United States were the study’s focus. Rural counties with hospital closures that occurred between 2005 and 2018 experienced greater negative economic, health, and social outcomes than did micropolitan counties.

Click here to access the brief.

Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Model Announces Award Recipients

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will award up to $20 million to entities in four states to improve health care in rural areas, the agency announced today.

The funding will be awarded through the Community Transformation Track under the Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Model. The CHART Model is intended to address disparities in health equity by improving access to quality health care and the sustainability of the health care system in rural communities. These funds will help test whether providing upfront funding, an innovative value-based payment, and operational flexibility can maintain or improve care quality and lower costs.

More than 57 million people live in rural communities across the United States. Rural residents tend to be older with more complicated health needs than their urban counterparts. In addition, rural communities often face challenges with access to care, financial viability, and the lack of infrastructure investments in some rural areas can negatively impact people’s health. Within rural areas, Black, Latino, and other communities of color experience greater access barriers and disparities in health outcomes. Rural residents may also have limited access to high-speed internet, hindering their ability to leverage online health care information and to participate in remote or telehealth visits with their health care practitioners.

CMS is awarding up to $5 million in cooperative agreement funding to each of the following entities:

  • University of Alabama Birmingham
  • State of South Dakota Department of Social Services
  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission
  • Washington State Healthcare Authority

CMS is excited that these four award recipients combined represent approximately 300,000 Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries in their rural communities, including rural beneficiaries in Tribal communities. Additionally, each rural community will incorporate Medicaid participation with their respective state Medicaid agencies.

For more information, see the CHART Model webpage or contact the model team at

Oral Health Care for People with Special Health Care Needs

The Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) released a report, Best Practice Approach: Oral Health Care of People with Special Health Care Needs (SHCN). This report describes a public health strategy and uses practice examples to illustrate successful implementation for providing care to these individuals who often have complex medical and behavioral issues that require specialized training and the right setting to provide this care.

The Digital Divide in Health Care

Research shows that communities of color, older adults, people with lower educational levels, and families of low-income are more likely to experience limited digital access. The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) published a brief on how federal agencies and states are expanding digital access to improve digital equity and access to care through funding investments, unique partnerships and other innovative interventions. In addition, the ASTHO interview with Craig Settles, a broadband expert with more than 30 years of experience, explores ‘broadband redlining,’ how pervasive it can be, and why the solutions will need to be community-driven.  The Health Resources and Services Administration’s  National Organizations of State and Local Officials cooperative agreement provided support for these resources.

Pennsylvania Funds Opportunities for Faith-Based Organizations to Reduce Vaccine Hesitancy

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the United Way of Pennsylvania today announced an expansion of the Local Innovations in Vaccine Equity in Pennsylvania project (LIVE PA), which aims to reduce vaccine hesitancy and ensure an equitable vaccine distribution throughout the commonwealth. The United Way will administer an additional $630,000 in grants to support the efforts of local faith-based organizations.

“The [Pennsylvania Governor] Wolf Administration is committed to ensuring an effective and equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan across the commonwealth,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “The expansion of LIVE PA to include our faith-based organizations shows our commitment to reaching individuals where they are and feel most comfortable, which is in their communities. We look forward to continuing the positive impact the LIVE PA project is making to further combat COVID-19.”

In June 2021, the Wolf Administration first announced the launch of the LIVE PA grant pilot program. LIVE PA is a collaboration between the Wolf Administration’s Office of Advocacy and Reform and the departments of Health and Human Services, working closely with the United Way of Pennsylvania to fund hyper-local, grassroots nonprofit organizations to partner with certified vaccine providers to help the populations they serve overcome barriers to vaccination.

The grant program is specifically designed for faith-based and non-profit organizations with a goal of administering vaccinations, as well as COVID-19 education and outreach. With a reimbursement rate of $10 per shot achieved and a matching rate of $10 per direct person-to-person outreach, the grants are designed initially to range from $400 to $40,000 per vaccination event. It also includes a requirement that the non-profits and local United Way chapters involved promote the events using traditional and digital media to help fight vaccine hesitancy.

“Faith-based organizations are trusted community groups who have opportunities to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible. These grant resources can be used by faith-based organizations to contribute to healthy and safe communities in the face of climbing rates of infection related to COVID variants. We encourage faith-based organizations, as well as nonprofits, to apply for the LIVE PA grant,” Kristen Rotz, President of United Way of Pennsylvania said.

Interested non-profit and faith-based organizations can use the United Way information formOpens In A New Window to apply for the grant. If you would like to talk to your local United Way before applying, please use the Find Your United Way toolOpens In A New Window to find your local United Way. Questions can be directed to


Pennsylvania Human Services Agency Remains Lifeline to Pennsylvanians as Federal Unemployment Comes to an End

Federal unemployment benefits ended for 558,000 Pennsylvanians on Saturday, Sept. 4.

It was the final week for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) programs. Those eligible filed for the final week of benefits through these federal, pandemic-specific programs this week. The additional $300 per week provided by the federal government for those in the state’s regular Unemployment Compensation (UC) is also coming to an end.

Many families, through no fault of their own, have seen their incomes decreased or lost entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn. Fortunately, for people across the commonwealth, support programs are available to provide help.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) will not stop providing access to essential needs for those who need them.

There is no shame in asking for help when we need it. Anyone who might be struggling is encouraged to reach out and take advantage of these available services. DHS is here to help people pay their bills, stabilize their housing situation, and stay healthy as we emerge from this unprecedented crisis.

Available DHS services include:


  • Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
    ERAP provides assistance to renters, landlords, and utility providers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic insecurity.
  • Homeless Assistance Program (HAP)
    HAP helps to assure that homelessness can be avoided, and people who are experiencing homelessness can find refuge and care.
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
    LIHEAP helps families living on low incomes pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant paid directly to the heating provider or fuel vendor.  Households in immediate danger of being without heat can also qualify for crisis grants. The LIHEAP season will open on October 18, 2021.


  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    SNAP helps Pennsylvanians by providing money each month that can only be spent on groceries, helping households have resources to purchase enough food for their household.
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman,
    Infants and Children (WIC)

    WIC helps pregnant women, mothers and caregivers of infants and young children learn about good nutrition to keep themselves and their families healthy. It provides nutrition services, breastfeeding support, health care and social service referrals, and healthy foods to eligible participants.
  • School Nutrition Programs  |  Find Meals for Kids near you!
    Free school meals (breakfast/lunch) are available for children from families receiving SNAP or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, and children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level. Reduced-price school meals are available for children from families whose incomes are between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level.


  • Medical Assistance (Medicaid)
    Medicaid provides health coverage to nearly 3 million eligible Pennsylvanians including children, pregnant women, parents, seniors and individuals with disabilities.
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
    Pennsylvania’s program to provide health coverage to uninsured children and teens who are not eligible for or enrolled in Medical Assistance.



USDA Seeks Comments on Farm Bill Changes to Help Expand Access to Capital for Rural Broadband Infrastructure Deployment

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson announced that USDA is seeking public comment on a direct final rule to help expand access to capital to deploy broadband infrastructure in rural areas. The changes apply to USDA’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Loan Guarantees program and are in accordance with the provisions of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the Farm Bill).

The Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Loan Guarantees program provides investment capital to eligible entities to help deploy telecommunications infrastructure, including broadband facilities in rural areas. Eligible entities are corporations, limited liability companies, cooperative or mutual organizations, Indian tribes or tribal organizations, and state and local governments.

USDA will make several improvements to streamline the application process. The department is seeking comments on the following reforms that will enable USDA to:

  • Issue a notice to applicants who may be eligible to receive grant assistance through the Farm Bill Broadband Program, under 7 CFR 1738.
  • Remove the requirement for applicants to provide a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity, which grants a company the authority to operate a public service.
  • Expand refinancing limits to 100 percent for Rural Utilities Service (RUS) loans and expand limits to 50 percent for non-RUS loans. Refinancing limits will be published in funding opportunity announcements and will be based on funding amounts that are authorized in a given fiscal year.
  • Add public notice filing and response requirements. This change will enable service providers to respond to pending applications that propose to provide broadband service outside of their territory.
  • Add reporting requirements to ensure similar data is reported and collected across multiple USDA broadband programs.
  • Set standards to ensure that programs are able to meet funding deadlines while maintaining the integrity of the environmental review process.
  • Define “Retail Broadband Service.”

Interested parties may submit comments, identified by docket number RUS-20 TELECOM-0044 and Regulatory Information Number 0572-AC48 via Comments are due by Nov. 9, 2021. For additional information, see page 50604 of the Sept. 10 Federal Register.

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