Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

CMS Issues Funding Notice to Connect Kids to Coverage

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is issuing a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) through the Connecting Kids to Coverage Helping Ensure Access for Little Ones, Toddlers, and Hopeful Youth by Keeping Insurance Delivery Stable Act of 2017 (HEALTHY KIDS Act) 2022 Outreach and Enrollment Cooperative Agreements program.

The HEALTHY KIDS Act 2022 NOFO will make $49.4 million available, ranging between $500,000 to $1.5 million per awardee for a three-year period of performance, to fund efforts to increase the participation of eligible children, parents, and pregnant individuals in Medicaid and CHIP. This is the largest amount of funding CMS has ever made available for these outreach and enrollment awards. CMS aims to reach a broad range of stakeholder organizations eligible to apply for the awards, including encouraging applicants who will be targeting subgroups of children with lower than average health coverage rates (e.g. adolescents, Latino, AI/AN or children in rural areas), with a goal of having a robust applicant pool from which to choose funded entities.

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Press Release:

Applications will be accepted through March 28, 2022. For more information, visit

Screening for Atrial Fibrillation

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released their final recommendation statement on screening for atrial fibrillation that found that more research is needed to make a recommendation for or against screening. To view the recommendation, the evidence on which it is based, and a summary for clinicians, please go here. It can also be found in the January 25, 2022, online issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Mitigation of Omicron in Homelessness

The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness released new federal guidance for communities to mitigate the impact of the Omicron variant among individuals experiencing homelessness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), due to increased risk factors this population faces, recommend a 10-day isolation and quarantine – regardless of vaccination status.

2021 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report

The Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released its 2021 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, which details the state of health care quality and disparities in the United States. The report identifies improvements in HIV and colon cancer care, nursing home care and medication prescribing to older adults. It notes that the number of people covered by health insurance and those who have a usual source of health care have increased significantly. The report also indicates that there is more to do to address disparities in care, substance abuse and mental health issues. Click here to access the report.

Price of Prescription Drugs Rises

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported on January 25, 2022, that the average net price of brand-name prescription drugs in Medicaid increased 48.3% between 2009 and 2018. Overall average net prescription prices in Medicaid, including brand and generic drugs, declined from $63 to $48.

HRSA Launches Health Center COVID-19 N95 Mask Program

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) launched a new initiative on January 17, 2022, with an initial group of 100-200 health centers nationwide invited to participate, with the expectation that it will grow incrementally. Program Information is available on HRSA Health Center COVID-19 N95 Mask Program | Bureau of Primary Health Care. Like the home COVID-19 testing kit initiative, FQHCs will be able to distribute N95 masks provided through the program to community partners, patients and the communities they serve.

HealthChoices 2022 Transition

During this week’s Medical Assistance Advisory Committee meetings, the PA Department of Human Services announced its goal of fully transitioning to the new HealthChoices contracts and managed care organization (MCO) assignments on July 1, 2022. The DHS Office of Medical Assistance Programs (OMAP) is developing a Communications Workgroup to assist in development of communications to consumers and providers about the transition. The workgroup will be compiled of representatives of MCOs, Maximus, consumers and providers. DHS said that those MCOs transitioning have committed to ensuring a smooth transition. OMAP is also developing a timeline graphic with key milestones, which will be coming out soon. Materials to support the transition will be on the Maximus website in mid-April. Mailings to consumers will be released late April, with a deadline of mid- to late-May to make their MCO selection. DHS anticipates 450,000 consumers will have a new MCO selection or assignment.

COVID-19 Updates and Advisories

The Pennsylvania Department of Health issued the following updates and advisories in correlation to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic:

622 – 1/25/22 – UPDATE: Return to Work for Healthcare Personnel with Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19

Click here to access all the 2022 health alerts, advisories and updates.