Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Oral Health/Rural Health Study Commissioned in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative service agency consisting of 12 members of the General Assembly. The LBFC is authorized to conduct a wide range of research activities pertaining to the operation and performance of state-funded programs and agencies. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives adopted House Resolution (HR) 68 on March 23, 2021 which pertains to the availability of dental health services in rural areas of Pennsylvania and seeks recommendations to expand oral health care to those areas. This study will be performed by the LBFC this summer and a final report, with policy recommendations, is expected by the end of 2022.

WHO Adopts Oral Health Strategy

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced member states’ adoption of a new global strategy on oral health at the World Health Assembly 75. This strategy will guide the development of a new global action plan that includes a framework for tracking progress with targets for achieving optimal oral health to be completed by 2030. This plan sets the stage for universal health coverage for oral health, with the goal of allowing all people to access oral health services and live healthy lives by “tackling social and commercial determinants and risk factors of oral diseases and conditions.”

Click here to read the article.

CMS Announces National Quality Strategy

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) National Quality Strategy focuses on a person-centric approach from birth to death as individuals journey across the continuum of care, from home or community-based settings to hospital to post-acute care, and across payer types, including Traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage, and Marketplace plans. It builds on our previous efforts to improve quality across the health care system, incorporates lessons learned from the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), and endeavors to foster and promote the expanded levers used during the pandemic such as interoperability and data sharing, data collection specific to social determinants of health and social risk factors, telehealth, emergency preparedness, leadership, and organizational governance among others. The CMS National Quality Strategy also embraces the anticipated acceleration of consumer demand for data and information to make informed care decisions. Overall, the CMS National Quality Strategy will help create a more equitable, safe, and outcomes-based health care system for all individuals.

Access more information here.

Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) Announces 2022 Rural Health Network Development Planning Program Awardees

The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) awarded approximately $1.9 million to twenty awardees for the 2022 Rural Health Network Development Planning (Network Planning) Program. The Network Planning program, administered by HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) focuses on the planning and development of integrated health care networks, specifically network participants who do not have a history of formal collaborative efforts in order to (i) achieve efficiencies; (ii) expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of essential health care services; and (iii) strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. The intent is that rural health networks, comprised of both rural and urban organizations, will expand access to care, increase the use of health information technology, explore alternative health care delivery models, and continue to achieve quality health care across the continuum of care.

Recipients from 14 states received up to $100,000 for a one-year project period that will focus on building, strengthening, and formalizing integrated health care networks and systems, coordinating service delivery, conducting community health needs assessments, and increasing service capacity.

You can view the list of awardees here.

With FORHP support, these organizations will work towards becoming operational and sustainable beyond the one-year project period, achieving long-term outcomes such as coordinating care, addressing behavioral health conditions, establishing services for the elderly, and strengthening housing services for those experiencing substance use disorders. These value-added services will ultimately create incentives to develop regional systems of care that preserve local autonomy for rural communities, while also ensuring access to the appropriate continuum of care for the local service population. These funded organizations are helping to change how health care is being delivered in rural communities.

If you have questions about the program, please contact Nkem Osian: or 301-443-2751.

Rural Hospital Price Transparency Compliance Assessment Released

From FIERCE Healthcare

Hospitals located in more concentrated healthcare markets, rural hospitals and those with higher per patient-day revenue could require “greater scrutiny” to ensure compliance with federal price transparency rules, according to a new analysis.

The warning comes alongside yet another review of hospital websites finding low industry-wide adherence to the mandate, which requires hospitals to post the prices for their most common procedures as well as a patient-friendly tool to help shop for 300 common services.

Across 5,239 hospital websites evaluated six to nine months after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) Jan. 1, 2021, effective date, roughly 51% of hospitals did not adhere to either price transparency requirement, researchers wrote in a JAMA analysis published recently.

The study, based upon a survey of over 5,000 hospital websites, found that only about half of all hospitals met two key transparency requirements and that only 6% of all hospitals were fully compliant. The regulatory requirements state that anything less than full compliance could subject a hospital to penalties.

Read more.

After Months of Warnings, CMS Hands Out First Fines to Hospitals Failing on Price Transparency

From FIERCE Healthcare

Eighteen months after its final rule on price transparency went into effect, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued its first penalties to a pair of Georgia hospitals that did not update their websites or reply to the agency’s warning letters.

Northside Hospital Atlanta and Northside Hospital Cherokee have been issued civil monetary penalties of roughly $880,000 and $214,000, respectively, according to letters published on CMS’ Hospital Price Transparency website. Both hospitals are part of the same health system.

The agency calculated the penalties based on the hospitals’ size and how long their websites were non-compliant (up to $300 per day). The hospitals may submit a request for a hearing to have their penalties appealed.

HRSA Primary Health Care Challenge and RCORP Psychostimulant Awards Announced

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has launched Building Bridges to Better Health: A Primary Health Care Challenge. This $1 million national prize challenge will accelerate the development and testing of low-cost, scalable technical assistance solutions. Challenge participants will submit ideas to address barriers to health and health-related social risk factors such as accessing medical, social, housing, educational, or other related services. HRSA will make awards totaling $1 million over three phases between June 2022 and August 2023. The challenge is open to broad public participation including individuals, groups, health care organizations, and other entities.

HRSA encourages participation by visiting for more information, including submission requirements, eligibility, deadlines, competition rules, judging criteria, prize amounts, and how to submit a proposal.  Phase 1 submissions are due by August 2, 2022.  Read the press release here.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded nearly $15 million in funding for rural communities to address psychostimulant misuse and related overdose deaths. Psychostimulants include methamphetamine and other illegal drugs, such as cocaine and ecstasy, as well as prescription stimulants for conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or depression. This funding helps support the President’s National Drug Control Strategy and deliver on his Unity Agenda priority of beating the overdose epidemic.  Read press release here.

New Plan Selections Coming for Some Enrolled in Pennsylvania’s Physical HealthChoices

Pennsylvania is preparing to enter into new contracts and that will change some of the Physical Health Plans that are available for those covered by Medical Assistance (MA).

Health plans will be changing which counties they serve, and MA recipients will need to choose a new plan option.

It’s important to note that MA recipients will not lose health coverage.

Some MA recipients will simply need to choose a new plan. New plans will go into effect September 1, 2022.

If a recipient’s health plan is no longer available in their county, then they will need to choose a new plan by August 16, 2022, or one will be automatically assigned to them. If their current plan is available, and they did not choose a new one, nothing will change.

Beginning June 22, MA recipients will be mailed information on how these changes will affect them and what steps they will need to take. Mail will be sent from PA Enrollment Services. For questions about this process, MA recipients can contact PA Enrollment Services directly.

Important Dates

June 22-August 16, 2022: Plan Selection Period

  • If an MA recipient’s plan is changing, and they do not select a new plan, one will be chosen for them. They will not lose coverage.
  • If a recipient’s plan is NOT changing, they do not need to take any action, and they will stay with their current plan.

September 1, 2022: New Plans Take Effect

The DHS website is a one-stop shop for plan information. Through the site, visitors can see which plans are changing by county, compare plans, and read tips for choosing a health plan.

Your Help is Needed!

You can help DHS spread the word and get up-to-date on these changes with our informational toolkit. This toolkit is designed to provide information to a variety of stakeholders about what to expect from these changes and how to assist MA recipients.  More information on HealthChoices Plan Selection is available on DHS’s website.

USDA Partners With Reinvestment Fund to Invest $970,000 to Increase Equitable Access to Healthy Foods in Pennsylvania

Financing Will Help Grocers, Markets and Other Organizations Provide Healthy Food Options to Underserved Communities

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Bob Morgan announced today that the Department has partnered with Reinvestment Fund to invest $970,000 to improve access to healthy foods in underserved communities in Pennsylvania.

The investments are being made through the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), which helps bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved urban and rural communities.

“The Biden-Harris Administration and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to creating local and regional food systems that benefit all Americans, from farmers and ranchers to small businesses and families who currently have to travel a long way from home to find fresh, healthy food,” Morgan said. “USDA is proud to partner with Reinvestment Fund to ensure that these resources reach the communities where they are needed most, so people can find nutritious food options wherever they live.”

In Pennsylvania the following projects received investments:

  • Edinboro Market Inc. in Oil City, Pa., received a $120,000 grant to support three retail markets in Northwest Pennsylvania. The markets will collaborate to expand and enhance existing informal aggregation and distribution efforts, increasing access to a wide variety of healthy foods for consumers while simultaneously building sales for small farms and food producers in the region. HFFI grant funding will help to address the initial, critical tasks of coordination, refrigeration, and developing routes to best accommodate multiple producers.
  • No Dirt Farms LLC in Erie, Pa., received a grant of $175,000 to certify a automated hydroponics farm that is female-owned and operated. NDF is developing The West Side Market on Powell, a year-round indoor market located in west Erie that will renovate a building to create an innovative local market for regional farms and producers. HFFI funding will be used to transform a 5,400 square foot commercial building into an innovative eco-friendly local grocery store.
  • Freeman Family Farm & Greenhouse in Pittsburgh, Pa., received a grant of $175,000. The Freeman Family Farm and Greenhouse is a minority owned business located in historically black community in Pittsburgh. HFFI funds will support Freeman Family Farm to build capacity to develop and establish a retail food space on their property to serve the community with fresh food for retail sale.
  • Salems Market Centre Ave LLC in Pittsburgh, Pa., received a grant of $200,000. SMCA operates a full-service Halal grocery store that has served the Pittsburgh region for over 40 years. With Support from HFFI, SMCA will renovate the now vacant former Shop ‘N Save in the historic Hill District neighborhood. This project will reactivate a former grocery store that has been vacant since it went out of business in 2019.
  • Power Plant Market in Philadelphia, Pa., received a grant of $100,000. The Philadelphia Power Market is a new project in a historically low-income, predominantly African-American residential neighborhood in north Philadelphia, which seeks to have a positive, invigorating impact on the neighborhood as BlPOC vendors and entrepreneurs are given priority and support, and high-quality fresh produce is made affordable and accessible. HFFI funds will support predevelopment costs to contribute to the project’s development.
  • Weavers Way Co-op in Philadelphia, Pa., received a grant of $200,000. Weavers Way Co-op is a consumer-owned cooperative in Northwest Philadelphia that is committed to community betterment around food, health and education. HFFI funds will be used to support the opening of a new location of a full-service, community-owned grocery store in the ethnically diverse neighborhood of Germantown in order to better serve the co-op’s membership. In addition, the co-op will provide community engagement and education opportunities on site at its new location.

Read the complete announcement on our website.

ARC Announces Availability of $34.2M for Workforce in Rural Communities

There is now $34.2 million available in a fourth round of grant funding from the U.S. Department of Labor for the Workforce Opportunities for Rural Communities initiative. WORC helps new and dislocated workers, as well as workers overcoming substance use disorder, access training and career opportunities.

Grants will range from $150,000 up to $1.5 million. Proposals are due in one month on July 8, 2022.

Interested in applying for a grant this year? Join us at next week’s Pre-Application Webinar on June 14th at 12:30 pm ET. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the application process and ask any questions about the grants.