Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

New Pocket Guides from MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center

The MidAtlantic AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) has created several new pocket guides by Dr. Linda Frank and their regional partners which are available for download on their website. The new topics are:

  • Rapid Initiation of HIV Treatment
  • HIV and Medication Assisted Treatment Centers (MAT)
  • Differential Diagnosis of HIV and SARS-COV-2
  • Best Practices & Tips for Clinicians Providing Care for Patients with HIV via Telehealth
  • Integrating Geriatric Principles into an HIV Clinic
  • Workplace Burnout Guide for Health Professionals
  • Addressing Social Determinants of Health and Persons with HIV

You can also find all their other pocket guides and clinical tools here.

New FAQ Videos in Spanish about COVID-19 Vaccine & Kids!

Pediatrician Ilan Shapiro, MD returns to THE CONVERSATION / LA CONVERSACIÓN with a new series of FAQ videos, en español, about the COVID-19 vaccine for children, including more newly eligible 5-11 year-olds. Presented with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Shapiro answers some of the most common questions parents and caregivers are asking about the COVID-19 vaccine, including: How do we know the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for kids? Do kids need the COVID-19 vaccine? What is in the vaccine given to kids? And more!

Study Finds Rapid Tests Highly Accurate for Kids

While PCR tests for COVID-19 have become the “gold standard” in detecting the virus, a new study says rapid tests are highly accurate when it comes to children and teens. The study, led by researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in collaboration with other institutions and published in MedRxiv, shows that rapid tests given to adolescents at school or at home have a similar accuracy to PCR tests.

USPS Now Taking Orders for Free COVID-19 Tests

The U.S. Postal Service has begun taking orders for free at-home coronavirus test kits via the website or COVID-19 Home Tests | USPS. Each household order will contain four rapid tests, which the Postal Service says will be shipped for free “in late January.” The White House says it will prioritize shipments to Americans from ZIP codes that have experienced high rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths, with the first 20% of each day’s orders going to those areas.

Medicaid Enrollments Increased 17% During the Public Health Emergency

The December Medicaid enrollment count has reached 3,430,872, up 17% since the beginning of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration in March 2020. Medicaid eligible individuals did not lose coverage due to Maintenance of Effort provisions, but approximately 400,000 individuals stand to lose Medicaid eligibility when the PHE declaration is lifted or expires. Health centers nationwide expect to provide enrollment assistance to patients needing help enrolling in marketplaces at the end of the Public Health Emergency.

Final Pennie Enrollment Numbers for Open Enrollment in Pennsylvania

Pennie ended Open Enrollment with 374,776 enrollments, an 11% increase over the 2021 Open Enrollment period, which was seven days longer, ending on January 22, 2021. More than 50,000 applications were deemed potentially eligible for Medicaid and thus transferred to the Department of Human Services for processing. Consumer metal level selections increased in the Gold level by about 11%. This is due in part to additional savings from the American Rescue Plan. More than 3,000 health insurance enrollments were attributed to assisters. New this year were stats reflecting Dental enrollments, which showed that 9% of all dental enrollments were stand-alone plans out of the 87,701 total enrollments. The seven 2022 dental insurers were Best, Capital Blue Cross, Delta Dental, DentaQuest, Dominion, EMI Health and Guardian. To view more metrics and information, click here for the Pennie Board slides and meeting recordings.

Little Progress on Key Legislation

As negotiations on the Build Back Better Act remained stalled, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) canceled this week’s recess to continue to focus on voting rights legislation. However, as Senators Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) opposition to changes to the filibuster has not waivered, voting rights reform cannot pass. Last week, top appropriators met to discuss government funding as the Feb. 18, 2022, deadline to pass another continuing resolution or an omnibus appropriations bill approaches. While lawmakers are negotiating an omnibus appropriations bill, including supplemental funding to address the ongoing pandemic, a short-term continuing resolution would give Congress more time to work on the legislation.

Pennsylvania House Republication Policy Committee Holds Rural Health Hearing

The Pennsylvania House Republican Policy Committee hosted a public hearing this week to discuss rural health care challenges and proposed solutions. The goal of the hearing was two-fold: to gain greater insights into the challenges facing rural health care facilities and discuss potential policy solutions to ensure rural residents have affordable and accessible care when they need it. The virtual hearing featured testimony from hospital administrators, including those from UPMC Kane, UPMC Cole, Warren General Hospital and Kaleida Health; area health care providers; and rural health care advocacy organizations. Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter also testified. Click here to watch the hearing and read the written testimony.

Repeal or Retool? States Assess Certificate of Need Laws

Certificate of Need (CON) laws are state regulatory mechanisms for approving major capital expenditures and projects for certain health care facilities. In a state with a CON program, a state health planning agency or other entity must review and approve projects like establishing a new health care facility or expanding a facility’s health service capacity in a specified area. CON programs primarily aim to control health care costs by restricting duplicative services and determining whether new capital expenditures meet a community need.

Click here for more information and to access an interactive map of all 50 states.