Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Addressing Diabetes Risk Factors in Children Learning Collaborative

Beginning September 27, the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium (NNCC) and the School-Based Health Alliance (SBHA) are convening a learning collaborative to assist health centers and school-based health centers operated by health centers/FQHCs, in enhancing their work by providing targeted interventions for school-aged children with pre-diabetic indicators to prevent diabetes. The initiative aims to provide a peer-learning experience with a case-centered model approach to educate participants on how health centers can implement programs to address pre-diabetes risk factors in school-aged children. The content will highlight evidence-based programs delivered both in-person and via telehealth interventions and how to best reach students by leveraging school and other community-based organization partnerships. For details and registration, click here. 

Employer Healthcare Costs Predicted to Increase 6.5%

Employers that pay for their employees’ healthcare coverage will face a 6.5% increase in 2023, according to a report from consulting firm Aon. That’s more than twice the 3% increase in 2022, but well below the 9.1% increase in the Consumer Price Index. One approach for employers is to address chronic conditions, which also have implications for absence, productivity, and disability, Aon said in a statement.

Health Plans that Spend More on Primary Care Get Better Results

Health plans that spend more for primary care are more likely to have better care quality, better patient experience, and better ratings from NCQA, according to a study that evaluated primary care spending data from 13 Medi-Cal managed care plans. “Increasing emphasis on primary care in Medi-Cal is essential to improving health and well-being and reducing health disparities,” Kathryn E. Phillips of the California Health Care Foundation, said in a statement. “This study provides an important baseline for understanding how greater investment in primary care can improve performance.” Read more.

CMS Issues Guidance on Children’s Behavioral Health Care and Expanding School-Based Services 

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released two new pieces of guidance on expanding access to children’s behavioral health services through the EPSDT benefit and expanding access to school-based services through Medicaid. In the behavioral health guidance, CMS reminds states that, under the EPSDT benefit, behavioral health services must be provided when necessary to treat an identified condition. CMS also highlights other coverage authorities and state strategies for providing high-quality behavioral health services to children and youth. In the school-based services guidance (SBS), CMS reviews relevant federal regulations and requirements, including the provision of SBS through managed care and via telehealth. The guidance also highlights best practices for implementing or expanding school-based services.

CMS Proposes Changes to Streamline Medicaid, CHIP, and Basic Health Program 

Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule that would make changes to simplify the processes for eligible individuals to enroll and retain eligibility in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Basic Health Program. This proposed rule would remove barriers and facilitate enrollment of new applicants, particularly those dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid; align enrollment and renewal requirements for most individuals in Medicaid; establish beneficiary protections related to returned mail; create timeliness requirements for redeterminations of eligibility in Medicaid and CHIP; make transitions between programs easier; eliminate access barriers for children enrolled in CHIP by prohibiting premium lock-out periods, waiting periods, and benefit limitations; and modernize recordkeeping requirements to ensure proper documentation of eligibility and enrollment. Medicaid is an important source of health care coverage for rural America, covering nearly a quarter of individuals under age 65 living in rural areas. Of interest to rural stakeholders, CMS is seeking comment on whether States either should be permitted or required to update beneficiary contact information based on information obtained from specific groups including providers like Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics.


Comments are due by November 7th. 

Postpartum Medicaid and CHIP Coverage Has Been Extended in Two New States

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services approved the extension of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage from 60 days to 12 months after pregnancy in Indiana and West Virginia.  It’s the latest move in the White House’s whole-government effort to improve maternal health outcomes, particularly for women in underserved and rural communities where a series of barriers means higher rates of morbidity and mortality.

Explore the Sustained Growth in Rural Telemedicine

 In a study of 10.4 million rural Medicare beneficiaries, researchers discovered continuous growth in telemedicine use between 2010 and 2019 – especially for care provided by nurse practitioners and other non-physician clinicians.  Medicare beneficiaries with serious mental illness (e.g., bipolar disorder) used a disproportionate share of all telemedicine visits, with more than 1 in 10 beneficiaries using telemedicine annually in 891 counties in the U.S.

CMS is Seeking to Make Your Voice Heard

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) seeks public input on access to health care and related challenges, understanding provider experiences, advancing health equity, and assessing the impact of waivers and flexibilities provided in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. CMS will use the comments received to identify opportunities for improvement and efficiencies across CMS policies, programs, and practices. CMS notes that responses may include, but are not limited to, challenges in accessing care in underserved areas, including rural areas.


Responses by November 4

Rural Children More Likely to Report Positive Childhood Experiences

While studies have shown rural children face higher rates of many adverse childhood experiences – also known as ACEs – new research aimed at distinguishing urban-rural differences finds factors that may give rural areas an edge in positive experiences. These include a greater likelihood that children volunteer in their church, school, or community; they are more likely to have a mentor for advice or guidance; and that they are more likely to live in a safe and supportive neighborhood.