Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Pennsylvania Announces Regulatory Updates

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that pursuant to Act 73 of 2021, the suspensions of various regulatory provisions under the state disaster emergency declaration were extended until March 31, 2022, unless reinstated sooner by DHS. Effective December 6, 2021, DHS has reinstated several suspended regulations, in whole or in part. A list of suspended regulations and their status is available here:

Good Faith Estimates and the Surprise Billing Act

On October 7, 2021, the Departments of Treasury, Labor and Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published in the Federal Register proposed Requirements Related to Surprise Billing, Part II

National Association of Community Health Centers is hosting a webinar on Friday, December 17, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. to go over the main areas of the “No Surprise Billing Act” and the Good Faith Estimate provision challenges. Register here

Strategies to Prepare for Public Health Emergency Unwinding

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a “punch list” of strategies states and the U.S. territories can adopt to maintain coverage of eligible individuals as they return to normal operations after the end of the public health emergency. The strategies are organized around seven topics areas:

  1. strengthening renewal processes
  2. updating mailing addresses
  3. improving consumer outreach, communication, and assistance
  4. promoting seamless coverage transitions
  5. improving coverage retention
  6. addressing strains on the eligibility and enrollment workforce
  7. enhancing oversight of eligibility and enrollment operations

In the resource, CMS also flagged strategies expected to have the biggest impact on mitigating coverage losses.

New Bulletin with Oral Health Resources Published

The National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center (OHRC) recently published the “Oral Health Resource Bulletin: Volume 47.” The bulletin contains briefs, guidelines, manuals, standards, reports, and videos published in 2020 and 2021. Topics include the COVID-19 pandemic, data and surveillance, policy, professional and education practice, program development, public awareness and education, and systems integration. Resources include a toolkit on community water fluoridation, a user’s guide on teledentistry, and more.

Click here to read the bulletin.

Data Estimates from National Survey of Children’s Health Released

The Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health (DRC), a project of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI), under a cooperative agreement with the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), announced the release of the combined “2019-2020 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) Child and Family Health Measures.” The combined 2019-2020 NSCH is the fourth multi-year dataset since the redesign of the NSCH in 2016 and includes data from 72,210 children ages 0-17 years. The combined 2019-2020 NSCH downloadable data sets and codebooks with constructed variables displayed in the DRC Interactive Data Query will be available in early 2022.

Click here for more information.

COVID-19 Reporting Revised to Better Track Trends

The Pennsylvania Department of Health will now provide weekly summaries of COVID-19 cases, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccine data, in addition to their daily updates of the interactive dashboards on the website to provide a clearer picture of what is happening than daily snapshots alone provide. The data reveals:

  • Between November 29 and December 5, almost 422,000 vaccine doses were administered across the commonwealth; nearly half were boosters and about 76,000 were to children ages 5-11.
  • According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health weekly report, this is a 47.2% increase in vaccines administered from the previous week.
  • As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 4,298 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state.
  • In the past seven days, the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 increased by 9%, the state averaged 7,338 new cases per day and a total of 654 deaths were reported.
  • To date, there have been almost 1.8 million cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and 34,107 virus-related deaths.

Note: the state’s vaccine data includes information from all counties except Philadelphia, which operates as a separate vaccine jurisdiction.

HIV Discrimination, Privacy and Confidentiality: Impact on the Delivery of Oral Healthcare

The New England AIDS Education and Training Center is hosting a webinar: “HIV Discrimination, Privacy and Confidentiality: Impact on the Delivery of Oral Healthcare” on January 11, 2021 at 11 am ET. Persons with HIV are protected by a variety of state and federal laws against discrimination, especially in places of public accommodation. The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act classified this as a national mandate to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities. Speakers will discuss the impact on the delivery of oral healthcare during the webinar.

To register for the webinar:

Dental Public Health Leadership

The American Institute of Dental Public Health (AIDPH) is developing a leadership program aimed at rising oral health professionals seeking formal training and support. The goal is to tailor the programming to the needs of the community with an intention to launch in the spring of 2022. In order to design curriculum and frame this experience, they are requesting feedback through a brief survey. Click the following link to complete the survey: