Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Successful Community Health Worker Programs

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the Penn Center for Community Health Workers with support from the Commonwealth Fund and the Community Health Acceleration Partnership (CHAP), have published a white paper, “Critical Inputs for Successful Community Health Workers Program.” The white paper will be presented during a webinar on December 14, 2021 at 4 pm ET. Organizations employing or looking to hire Community Health Workers can learn about how to support Community Health Workers and maximize their impact. Speakers will discuss the process of developing inputs, share reactions from the field, and discuss ways to incorporate the information into current and future work.

For more information and to register for the webinar:


Cholesterol Management: Improving Patient Adherence to Statin Therapy

Quality Insights has developed their 2021 Cholesterol Management Practice Module that offers a variety of strategies and tools care teams can utilize to improve patient-adherence outcomes. Review the module and visit the links below to learn more:

CDC Correction Shows Fever Pennsylvanians Vaccinated

A data correction made by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week made a dent in the state’s perceived progress on vaccinating the adult population. Under a data adjustment disclosed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), the number of people considered fully vaccinated dropped from 73.7% of those 180and-older to 68.9% because of a reduction of about 1.2 million doses after removal of duplicate information and correction of data on first, second and booster doses.

CDC Strengthens Booster Recommendation

On November 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strengthened its guidance to recommend a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines for all adults ages 18 years or older who completed their primary vaccination more than six months ago. See the CDC statement This recommendation aligns with and follows the Federal Drug Administration’s authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines as a booster and supplements previous guidance on boosters for other COVID-19 vaccines, covered in this bulletin  The following resources are available to help health centers understand what this means: and

Pennie, Off to a Great Start in Pennsylvania

Pennie, the Pennsylvania’s Health Insurance Marketplace, has enrolled more than 327,000 consumers as of November 21, 2021. More than 130 trained health center-based enrollment assisters registered with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department and are providing unbiased free enrollment assistance to consumers statewide at 43 health centers. Enrollment data shows more consumers are enrolling in Gold level plans at 31% compared to 22% in 2020. The average premium for those eligible for Advanced Premium Tax Credits is $142.42 and those not eligible for Advanced Premium Tax Credits is $485.89. Consumers are encouraged to always update their yearly income projection and shop for other plans for better options. Open enrollment ends on January 15, 2022, but consumer must select a plan by December 15 for a January 1 effective date.

Pennie Open Enrollment Toolkit

Visit to access customizable flyers, posters, logos, videos and much more. Pennie offers a variety of downloadable social media posts, educational materials in English and Spanish. You can also request large quantities of printed materials to be shipped directly to you using the

Biden Administration Announces Plans to Distribute Free At-Home COVID Testing Kits Through RHCs

The Biden Administration announced that they will be making 50 Million COVID-19 at-home testing kits available – free of charge – for distribution by Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers to the communities they serve.

In September, President Biden announced that his administration was going to make 25 Million at-home COVID testing kits available free-of-charge to individuals receiving care at Federally Qualified Health Centers. National Association of Rural Health Clinic (NARHC) Executive Director Bill Finerfrock wrote a letter to President Biden on September 24 expressing disappointment that a similar effort was not being undertaken for patients living in rural underserved communities served by RHCs.

In the letter, Finerfrock said,

“While this is welcome news for the millions of low-income uninsured individuals who receive care from Community Health Centers, it ignores the millions of individuals who reside in rural, underserved communities who receive care from Federally Certified Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) or Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs).

We commend our CHC colleagues for the work they are doing to help meet the COVID testing needs of underserved individuals residing in urban areas, but it is Rural Health Clinics and Critical Access Hospitals that are meeting those needs in underserved rural America.

NARHC looks forward to working with your Administration to ensure that individuals living in rural underserved areas have access to free in-home COVID testing kits through their federally certified Rural Health Clinic.”

NARHC would like to thank the Biden Administration for recognizing that RHCs are an important part of our nation’s health care safety net and that RHCs play a vital role at ensuring access to quality health care for individuals living in rural underserved areas.

NARHC has been in touch with Administration officials about the distribution of these kits and how best to get these at-home testing kits into the hands of individuals living in rural underserved areas. The details on the distribution plan are still being worked out and NARHC anticipates being involved in these deliberations. However, it may be several months before the Testing Kits become available for distribution. As we learn more about how and when RHCs can access these COVID testing kits, we will share that information with the RHC community as soon as possible.

New Policy Brief Published on Rural Hospital Emergency Designation

The National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services (NACRHHS) published their October 2021 Policy Brief on the new provider designation, the Rural Emergency Hospital.

In December 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 20211 (Public Law 116-260), which, in Section 125, created a new Medicare provider type called the Rural Emergency Hospital (REH). The REH will be a new rural hospital type that does not provide inpatient care but will provide 24-hour emergency services. By creating the REH, Congress has established the first new rural provider type in over 20 years since the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) was created in 1997 under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-33). The REH comes as a response to an ongoing period of hospital closures in rural communities and to the concerns of access to emergency services in rural areas. In the brief, the Committee notes the implications the REH program to offer an innovative way for rural communities to integrate care and services sectors.

New Resource-Cancer Genetics/Genomics Toolkit for Health Care Providers in Pennsylvania

The Genetic/Genomics Workgroup of the Pennsylvania Cancer Coalition (PCC) has created a multi-component Genetics/Genomics Toolkit to provide health care professionals with the requisite tools to integrate hereditary cancer risk assessment into practice. At: Pennsylania Cancer Coalition Genetics/Genomic Toolkit for Healthcare Providers please find practical information on the role of genetics in care, increase recognition and the appropriate referral of individuals at risk for hereditary cancer syndromes, and learn how to talk with individuals about risk factors.


CMS Announces  COVID-19 Vaccine, Testing, and Counseling Policies

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that CMS is now requiring states to cover COVID-19 vaccine counseling visits in which health care providers talk to families about the importance of kids’ vaccination. CMS will now consider certain COVID-19 vaccine counseling visits for children and youth to be COVID-19 vaccine administration, for which state expenditures can be federally matched at 100% through the last day of the first quarter that begins one year after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, under the American Rescue Plan (ARP).  CMS will match COVID-19 vaccine counseling-only visits at the ARP 100% federal match rate only when they are provided to children and youth under age 21 as part of the Medicaid Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit.

In addition, to expand access to and affordability of at-home COVID-19 tests, the Department of Health and Human Services together with the Departments of Labor and the Treasury will issue guidance by January 15 to clarify that individuals who purchase over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic tests will be able to seek reimbursement from their group health plan or health insurance issuer and have insurance cover the cost during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Finally, CMS issued a news alert encouraging those with Medicare who are fully vaccinated to get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. People with Medicare pay nothing when they get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster and there is no applicable copayment, coinsurance or deductible.

A press release is attached and available at:

A news alert regarding the Medicare Booster is attached and available at:

To view the announcement regarding at-home COVID-19 tests, please visit:

If you have any questions, please contact the CMS Office of Legislation. Thank you.