Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

New Research Report: Access to Maternity Care in Rural Pennsylvania

Dr. Sharon Bernecki DeJoy and Dr. David J. Doorn of West Chester University of Pennsylvania examined access to maternity care in rural Pennsylvania. It included a workforce analysis and a survey of stakeholders and key informants.

The research projected that the supply of obstetricians in rural practice will not increase over the next five years. However, there was a projected growth in the number of midwives and family practice physicians in the next five years, which may partially help with the shortage of obstetricians.

Eighteen rural Pennsylvania counties are or are forecasted to be “maternity care deserts,” where there are not enough providers to ensure access for all pregnant people.

Three broad areas for policy development : recruit more maternity care providers to work in rural areas, encourage innovation in interprofessional maternity care models, and maintain and place resources for maternity care in locations where they are scarce.

Here’s the full report, Access to Maternity and Obstetric Care in Rural Pennsylvania.

CMS to Roll Out ‘Birthing-Friendly’ Hospital Tag on Care Compare Site

From FIERCE Healthcare

The Biden administration wants to add a “birthing-friendly” designation to facilities on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) Care Compare website. The designation, announced Tuesday as part of a larger call to action from the White House to address maternal care, would apply to hospitals that provide perinatal care and participate in a maternity care quality improvement collaborative.

CMS is also encouraging states to take advantage of an option in the American Rescue Plan Act to provide a year of postpartum coverage to pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“No mother should have to fight for her coverage or care during pregnancy or while caring for a newborn,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in a statement. “CMS is doing everything we can to support the health of new parents and families and to advance health equity across the country.” CMS’ Care Compare website lets consumers compare doctors, hospitals and other providers that participate in Medicare. The agency also announced Tuesday a new structural quality measure for its Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program starting with all discharges from Oct. 1 of this year.

Hospitals will have to attest whether “they participate in a statewide and/or national maternal safety quality collaborative and whether they have implemented the recommended patient safety practices or bundles to improve maternal outcomes,” CMS said in a release.  A hospital that chooses to participate with this measure and others can be considered “birthing-friendly” on Care Compare.

Read more.

RELATED: Behavioral, maternal health worsening among children, women, report finds

April in Brief: HRSA Works to Strengthen and Expand Health Care Access

In April, HRSA announced investments to: support community-based doulas; strengthen home visiting supports for parents, infants, and children; expand our investments in state responses to the maternal mortality crisis; launch the largest investment we’ve ever made in Community Health Worker training; and build new data tools to reduce health disparities through health centers.

HRSA also distributed $1.75 billion in Provider Relief Fund payments, released a Request for Information on ways to strengthen and improve the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, and launched a new Health Equity Fellowship Program.

In April 2022, the Health Resources and Services Administration took action to support underserved communities, improve maternal health, grow the health care workforce, and reduce health disparities, including:

Health Resources and Services Administration Announces Availability of New Funding to Support Community-Based Doulas
HRSA announced the availability of $4.5 million for hiring, training, certifying, and compensating community-based doulas in areas with high rates of adverse maternal and infant health outcomes.

HRSA Awards $16 Million to Strengthen the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, Announces $9 Million Available to Expand State Maternal Health Innovation and Implementation Program
HRSA announced approximately $16 million to strengthen Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Programs through seven awards supporting eight states. These awards will advance data and technology innovations to support positive maternal and child health outcomes in states and communities, and focus on addressing health disparities.

HRSA also announced the availability of up to $9 million through the State Maternal Health Innovation and Data Capacity Program to expand the State Maternal Health Innovation and Implementation Program. This program supports state-level development and implementation of proven strategies to improve maternal health and address maternal health disparities.

HRSA Announces $226.5 Million to Launch Community Health Worker Training Program
HRSA announced the availability of $226.5 million in American Rescue Plan funding to launch the Community Health Worker Training Program. This new program will increase the number of community health workers who play a critical role in connecting people to care, including COVID care; mental health and substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery services; chronic disease care; and other important health services.

HRSA Announces $90 Million to Support New Data-Driven Approaches for Health Centers to Identify and Reduce Health Disparities
HRSA announced the availability of nearly $90 million in American Rescue Plan funding to support new data-driven efforts for HRSA Health Center Program-supported health centers and look-alikes to identify and reduce health disparities.

HRSA Distributing $1.75 Billion in Provider Relief Fund Payments to Health Care Providers Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic
HRSA announced more than $1.75 billion in Provider Relief Fund payments to 3,680 providers across the country. Provider Relief Fund payments have played an important role in the national response to COVID-19, helping health care providers respond to the coronavirus, including retaining and supporting the workforce.

HRSA Releases Request for Information on Ways to Strengthen and Improve the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network
HRSA released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input on ways to strengthen and improve the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). The RFI will support HRSA’s efforts to increase accountability in OPTN operations, modernize performance of the OPTN IT system and related tools, and improve engagement with donors and patients. Comments are due by May 9th.

New Opportunities at HRSA for Early-Career Professionals
HRSA also announced the new HRSA Health Equity Fellowship Program to provide early career professionals with an opportunity to contribute directly to the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance racial equity and support underserved communities.

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