Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

CMS Releases FAQs on Agent and Broker Compensation for Special Enrollment Periods


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) posted Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding compensation paid by issuers to agents and brokers who assist consumers with enrollment during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) or during Open Enrollment

Periods (OEPs). The Biden-Harris Administration has made it a priority to provide those who are uninsured and underinsured with quality, affordable health care coverage and recognizes that agents and brokers play a vital role in helping consumers enroll in coverage that best fits their needs and budget.

CMS has become aware that some issuers in the individual market, who commonly use agents and brokers as part of their marketing and sales distribution channels, have reduced or eliminated commissions and other forms of compensation to agents and brokers for enrollments during an

SEP. Today’s FAQs provide guidance that paying differential compensation to agents and brokers for coverage in the same benefit year based on whether the enrollment is completed during an SEP or during the OEP is prohibited under federal law. These practices violate the guaranteed availability protections afforded to these individuals under the Affordable Care Act.

To read the FAQs visit

3RNET Annual Report Released

 The National Rural Recruitment & Retention Network forms 3RNET,  connecting professionals to health care jobs in rural and underserved areas.  For the fiscal year that ended in September 2021, the non-profit reports it added 31,000 jobs for an economic impact of nearly $2 billion.

The HRSA News Round-Up for May Published

Last week, HRSA and leaders across the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services issued a joint letter to states, tribes, and jurisdictions encouraging them to maximize their efforts to strengthen children’s mental health and well-being. Earlier in the month, our Maternal and Child Health Bureau launched a new, toll-free hotline for expecting and new moms experiencing mental health challenges.  The Office for the Advancement of Telehealth convened its first National Telehealth Conference.  See all News & Announcements on

2020 Census: Growing Racial Diversity in Rural America

The most recent Census count revealed that, between 2010 and 2020, the rural population declined to just 14 percent of the U.S. total, the smallest percentage of the population to reside in rural areas in U.S. history.  At the same time, racial diversity increased with Hispanics representing 9 percent of the rural population, followed by non-Hispanic Black people, representing 7.7 percent.  Nearly one-third of all rural children (32.5 percent) come from racial or ethnic minority populations, compared to 28.1 percent in 2010.  More about these changes can be found in the report from the University of New Hampshire Carsey School of Public Policy.

Rural America Placemaking Toolkit Announced

A collaborative community process to define a town by what it offers the people who live there is the short way to describe the work of placemaking.  This digital toolkit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative includes examples of rural placemaking projects along with technical assistance providers, funders, and guides to resources.

Clarifying Information: HRSA’s Community Health Worker Training Program Begins

  HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) issued new information for applicants for this funding opportunity. Through the Community Health Worker Training Program, HRSA will provide funding to health professions schools, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and community-based organizations to train 13,000 community health workers for underserved communities.  See BHW’s website for more help with applications due on June 14.

Pennsylvania Governor’s Administration Highlights Summer Food Assistance Programs, Summer Options Available for Children

The Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Education today reminded Pennsylvanians to take advantage of the many summer food assistance programs for students and caretakers across the commonwealth. State and local options are available to Pennsylvania families facing food insecurity this summer.

“No matter the time of year, we cannot grow young minds on empty stomachs,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “School feeding programs ensure students have nutritious meals during the school year, but when the school year ends, summer options are available to both children and their caretakers. Food is a necessity we all deserve equal access to, but this is especially true for our youngest and most vulnerable populations.”

According to 2019 food insecurity data provided by Feeding America, 10.6% of Pennsylvanians — or 1,353,730 people — did not always know where their next meal was coming from. That number included 383,500 children, 14.6% of all children in the state. When school-based meals end with the school year, addressing child food insecurity can become an even greater challenge.

“At the Department of Education, we work tirelessly to ensure that students are healthy and cared for both in and out of the classroom,” said Education Secretary Eric Hagarty. “Fortunately, assistance is available no matter which city or town you call home, and at no cost to you. We encourage Pennsylvanians in need to take advantage of these critical resources throughout the summer months.”

Options for Pennsylvania caretakers and children experiencing food insecurity include:

Seniors and seniors taking care of children also may be eligible for the following:

Learn more about the Wolf Administration’s commitment to reduce food insecurity in Pennsylvania at

A Final Recommendation Statement: Screening for Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently released a final recommendation statement on screening for primary open-angle glaucoma. The Task Force concluded that more research is needed on screening for people who have not reported concerns with their vision. To view the recommendation, the evidence on which it is based, and a summary for clinicians, please go here. The final recommendation statement can also be found in the May 24, 2022, online issue of JAMA.