Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

HRSA Reorganization

This week, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced a reorganization of its bureaus and offices to accommodate changing needs in the agency’s mission to improve health care for people who are geographically isolated and/or medically underserved.   Among the changes, the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth has moved from its longtime home in the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to become an operational focal point for telehealth across all of HRSA’s programs.  Find more information here.

Provider Relief Fund Information Moves to HRSA Website

Information on the Provider Relief Fund program, which gives financial support to providers who have seen lost revenues and increased expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic, previously hosted on the HHS website is now available on the HRSA website.  Users who visit (previous URL) will be automatically re-directed to the new site. All archived content will remain available to the public. For updates about the PRF and other HRSA programs, please subscribe to the HRSA eNews.

Interactive Map Shows Results of 2020 Census

The map allows users to zoom in and find population data for each county in the country.  State profiles give more detail on demographic changes between 2010 and 2020.  Other infographics and visualizations show information topics such as population change by county, food assistance eligibility, and more detailed breakdown of race and ethnicity.  Population counts from the U.S. Census are used to allocate federal funding, provide data for policymaking, plan economic development, and provide data for research, among countless other needs for quality of life.

CDC on Mental Health/Substance Abuse Among Adults with Disabilities During the Pandemic

Using Internet surveys, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that adults with disabilities experienced greater incidents of anxiety or depression, new or increased substance use, and suicidal ideation than did adults without disabilities.  The report includes data for rural locations and recommends that clinicians consider screening all patients for issues related to the pandemic.

Pennsylvania Administration Requires Masking to Protect Kids

With a focus on protecting students and keeping them in classrooms, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf joined the Departments of Health, Human Services and Education to discuss the current state of COVID-19 and a new Secretary of Health order requiring masks to be worn inside K-12 school buildings, early learning programs and child care providers, which will take effect at 12:01 am on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. Universal masking in schools, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend, reduces the risk that entire classrooms will need to quarantine due to a positive COVID-19 case. For eligible adolescents in Pennsylvania, 18.2 percent of children ages 12-14 are fully vaccinated and 38.3 percent of children ages 15-19 are fully vaccinated. The order applies to everyone indoors at K-12 public schools including brick and mortar and cyber charter schools, private and parochial schools, career and technical centers (CTCs), and intermediate units (IUs). The order also applies to early learning programs and childcare providers for children ages 2 and older, as recommended by the CDC.

See the initial FAQs on the new order.

Teledentistry User’s Guide

The National Network for Oral Health Access (NNOHA) has worked with health centers since the spring of 2020 to develop and test a variety of strategies to deliver dental services via synchronous teledentistry. Their new User’s Guide gives an overview of teledentistry, describes its use in health center dental programs, and includes practical tools for implementing teledentistry. NNOHA is a HRSA-funded National Training and Technical Assistance Partner (NTTAP).

Employee Mandates Are Moving the Needle

Workers are more likely to get vaccinated when their employers require them to, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

  • Respondents Whose Employer Require COVID-19 Vaccination: 80% said they were already vaccinated; 10% said they were likely to get a vaccine and 11% said they were either “not likely” or were a “hard pass” on the idea.
  • Respondents Whose Employer Had No COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement: 68% said they’d already been vaccinated; another 6% were likely to get the vaccine, and 27% said they were either “not likely” or were a “hard pass” on vaccination.

Mandates will likely accelerate over the next several months, according to a new report by advisory firm Willis Towers Watson that found that 52% of the employers surveyed said they may impose a mandate, which would be a dramatic increase from the 21 percent who mandate vaccines now. Nearly a third of employers said they might make vaccination a requirement to gain access to the workplace, while about one in five are considering making vaccination a condition of employment.

Read more.

Provider Relief Fund Website Moves

Congress provided $178 billion in funding to establish the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) program that gives financial support to providers who have seen lost revenues and increased expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since its inception, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has played a lead role in administering the PRF program and disbursing the funds as quickly as possible. With the expansion of the program, information previously hosted on the HHS website is now available on the HRSA website. The migration of the content allows HRSA to manage, under its own website domain, all PRF information, announcements, and future funding availabilities. Users who visit (previous URL) will be automatically redirected to All archived content will remain available to the public.

For updates about the PRF and other HRSA programs, subscribe to the HRSA eNews.

CMS Announces First-Ever Chief Dental Officer

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced Dr. Natalia Chalmers as its first-ever Chief Dental Officer in the Office of the Administrator. In her role as CMS’s chief dental officer, Dr. Chalmers will advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to care for the whole person, a key to reducing health disparities and advancing health equity.