Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

AHRQ Handbook for Health IT Advisors and Practice Facilitators Available


A new Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) handbook, A Handbook for Health IT Advisors and Practice Facilitators, provides practical information and strategies for primary care practice coaches to support improved care by helping practices effectively use health information technology (IT). It covers essential information and techniques to help primary care practices use electronic health records and other health IT for quality improvement (QI). This resource features information on clinical decision support, patient portals, and other technologies, using patient-generated data, clinical quality measures, and risk stratification in primary care. The handbook includes helpful tips, examples, and use cases to support the use of health IT for QI efforts and is a complimentary resource to AHRQ’s Primary Care Practice Facilitation Curriculum and training modules.

Patient Instructions on COVID-19 Home Testing Available in Multiple Languages


newly developed document on the Health Center Resource Clearinghouse—the consolidated website for resources for health centers developed by HRSA’s National Training & Technical Assistance Partners (NTTAPs)—contains patient instructions for using at-home QuickVue COVID-19 tests that are being distributed at health centers. Instructions contain text and graphics and cover both sides of a single sheet. Health centers can use these documents as handouts when distributing the kits or send them to patients as PDFs via text or email. This resource is available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Burmese, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Dari, Hindi, Ilokano, Ka\’Ren, Laotian, Nepali, Pashto, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai, and Urdu.

Let Your Patients Know about New Internet Access Program for Low-Income Households


Pennsylvania Medicaid participants could see huge benefits from the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a new federal program to help low-income households pay for internet services and connected devices. Apart from the practical advantages of connecting to the internet, this initiative could also impact consumers’ health by facilitating access to telehealth and making it easier to manage their healthcare and benefits. The ACP was established as part of President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure package (the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act). Eligible households can receive a discount of up to $30 per month on their broadband service, plus a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. Additionally, some families may be able to get high-speed internet at no cost through exclusive low-cost service plans. To qualify for the ACP benefit, a household must meet any one of the following requirements listed on the FCC Website:

  • Annual household income below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level ($55,500 for a household of 4 in 2022)
  • Have a household member receiving a Lifeline benefit
  • Have a household member participating in certain government assistance programs, including Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, SSI, Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPCA), Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, Free or Reduced-Price School Lunch
  • Have a household member participating in certain Tribal Assistance Programs

Households interested in signing up for ACP benefits can go to to apply online or print out a mail-in application.

Keep Up with Latest Telehealth Policy



When the COVID-19 public health emergency ends, some telehealth policies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will change. Stay up to date on the latest national telehealth policy developments and get ahead of what to expect once the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. It’s a good idea to bookmark HHS’ telehealth page, which highlights permanent changes, what is being phased out, and additional considerations.

CDC Study Begins Quantifying Long COVID-19


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine assessment for post-COVID-19 conditions among persons who survive COVID-19. A new CDC study paints a picture of the impact of long COVID-19, including that COVID-19 survivors, have twice the risk for developing pulmonary embolism or respiratory conditions and one in five COVID-19 survivors ages 18-64 and one in four older than 65 experienced at least one incident condition that might be attributable to the previous COVID-19. CDC published the following resources for managing or educating patients with possible long COVID-19: Post-COVID-19 Conditions: Overview for Healthcare Providers and Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions.

FTC Receives More than 20,000 Responses to its Request for Comments on PBM Practices


Providers want the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate pharmacy benefit managers’ (PBM) business practices. The FTC published a notice in February asking for input on how PBM practices such as rebates and fees, potentially anti-competitive contracts, and attempts to steer patients toward certain pharmacies affect patients and payers. The commission received more than 23,700 submissions by the time the comment period expired Wednesday. Providers wrote that PBMs engage in practices that decrease the quality and threaten providers’ finances.

In Case You Missed It – Changes Coming to Marketplaces for 2023


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its annual update to marketplaces, which includes many improvements to marketplace coverage for the upcoming 2023 plan year. Some of the most important changes that affect marketplace coverage are:

  • Insurance companies can no longer restrict people who owe past-due premiums from enrolling in one of their plans.
  • Insurance companies in state-based marketplaces and will be required to offer standardized plans wherever they also offer non-standardized plans. Standardized plans make it easier for people to make direct comparisons between different plans offered on the marketplace.
  • Insurance plans offered on will be required to meet federal standards for network adequacy, to assure that enrollees have timely access to the health care they need.
  • Insurers will also be required to expand the proportion of Essential Community Providers (ECPs) in the in-network service area. ECPs include providers like community health centers, safety-net hospitals, and Indian health care providers.
  • There will be stronger standards for agents, brokers, and web brokers to ensure they verify application information with the applicant before submitting an application or enrolling a person in a plan.

State Medicaid Directors are Asking for Flexibility During PHE Unwinding


On May 17, the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) supporting the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recent request for legal clarification on the use of text messages and automated calls during the public health emergency unwinding. Allowing state Medicaid agencies – along with their contractors and managed care organizations – to use text messages and automated calls is crucial to ensuring that Medicaid members know when they need to return renewal forms and other information to maintain coverage. Read NAMD’s letter here.