Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

HRSA Issues FTCA Guidance on Distribution of Naloxone to Non-Patients by Health Center Providers

HRSA issued a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) particularized determination permitting health centers to prescribe and dispense naloxone to individuals who are not patients of the health center. The determination allows health centers that have been deemed as Public Health Service employees for purposes of liability protections and any officer, governing board member, employee, qualified contractor, or VHP of such an entity (“eligible individuals”), to have liability protections under section 224 of the Public Health Service Act for the provision of health services within the health center’s scope of the project to individuals who are not patients of the health center for prescribing and dispensing naloxone at a health center service site or at offsite locations within the community served by the health center and where the health center is providing care.

CMS Proposes Rule to Standardize Medicaid, CHIP Eligibility and Enrollment

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Aug. 31, 2022, a proposed rule that would standardize Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility and enrollment procedures by limiting renewals to once every 12 months, allowing applicants 30 days to respond to information requests, and requiring prepopulated renewal forms. The proposed rule would also end lifetime benefit limits in CHIP, eliminate pre-enrollment waiting periods, and allow states to transfer children’s eligibility directly from Medicaid to CHIP. Finally, the rule proposes automatic consideration of older adults for Medicare Shared Savings Programs and standardization of state recordkeeping requirements. Public comments will be accepted through Nov. 7. Read More.

Pennsylvania Physical HealthChoices and Medicaid Enrollment Update

Due to the recent Physical HealthChoices reprocurement, more than 470,000 Medicaid eligibles were transferred to new Managed Care Organizations (MCOs). These consumers needed to voluntarily select a new health plan by August 16 to avoid being auto-assigned as of Sept. 1. The Department of Human Services reported only 26% actively selected a plan, with the remaining 348,000 consumers auto-assigned to a new plan. Those who were auto-assigned and desired to switch to a different plan had until Sept. 8 to do so for an Oct. 1 start date. With Aetna Better Health leaving the HealthChoices program entirely and changes to the UnitedHealth Care and Highmark Wholecare (formerly Gateway) network, new MCOs are required to maintain continuity of care for transitioning consumers. Continuity of care includes open prior authorizations, PCP assignment changes, and special needs. DHS also reported that 1,057,441 consumers are enrolled in the Adult Benefit Package under the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansion for a total of 3,541,516 Medicaid consumers statewide.

FTCA Volunteer Health Professionals Program Set to Sunset

Absent congressional action, the FTCA Volunteer Health Professionals Program (VHP) will sunset on Saturday, Oct. 1. While there have been discussions of including an extension for the VHP in the continuing resolution (CR) being negotiated, it remains unclear whether it will make it into the final package. HRSA is monitoring updates. If Congress decides to continue the program, HRSA will issue guidance on how to apply for coverage. If the program is not extended, health centers will need to ensure that you make alternate medical malpractice coverage plans for anyone volunteering after Friday, September 30.

Work Begins to Avoid Government Shutdown, Pass Key Funding

As September begins, Members of Congress are returning to work following a month-long break. While the House has another week off, the Senate is back in session and will be voting on a wide range of items. Senate leadership is expected to focus on the FY23 budget, which must be passed by the end of the month to avoid a government shutdown. A continuing resolution (CR), which will extend the FY22 funding levels for several months, is likely to occur as FY23 negotiations continue in both the House and the Senate. As Congress seeks to pass a CR, the Biden administration wants to add several emergency funding requests into the package. This includes $22.4 billion to fund the COVID-19 response and $4.5 billion to address monkeypox, in addition to other issues.

Pennsylvania Health Department Says Providers Are Ready to Give Updated COVID-19 Booster Shots

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) announced that vaccine providers across the state are prepared to begin administering updated COVID-19 booster vaccines as soon as they receive them. The vaccines, which provide additional protection against the original coronavirus and Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, were recently approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after receiving emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

NIH Loan Repayment Programs (LRP) Application Cycle Opens on September 1

Have you thought about applying for an NIH Extramural LRP award? Do you know someone that should?

Awardees can receive up to $100,000 of qualified educational debt repayment with a two-year contract.


The NIH LRPs are unique programs with tremendous benefits to early-stage researchers, so we strongly encourage those who did not successfully get their applications funded to apply again.


Be sure to visit the LRP website or attend one of our upcoming events to learn more about eligibility requirements, application dates, and the benefits of receiving an NIH LRP award!

  • September 8 – LRP Twitter Chat
  • October 3 – LRP Technical Assistance Webinar
  • Early November – Ask Me Anything

The Extramural LRP application cycle will close on November 17, 2022.  Help us share this valuable information with your colleagues!

Get Ready for The New Application Cycle!

  • Obtain your NIH eRA Commons ID and make sure your password is current.  An eRA Commons ID will be required to start your application.
  • Check out the new application tutorial videos
  • Check out the latest LRP Application Guide to learn about application components
  • Check out the published guide notices
  • Reach out to an NIH LRP Program Officer to discuss your research
  • Contact your Institutional Business Official (IBO) at your institution
  • Contact an LRP Ambassador
  • Application Deadline – November 17, 2022

Pennsylvania Disabilities Council Releases Fall 2022Request for Applications.

The Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (PADDC) is pleased to announce that the newest Request for Application (RFA) book for 2022-2026 State Plan is now available for you to download, which includes 15 separate grant opportunities. The deadline to submit applications for these grants is Wednesday, October 26, 2022Click here to read more and download the RFA book and other application resources.

In addition, PADDC is offering funding on a rolling basis through our Community Grants Program.  Get more information about the Community Grants Program.

Pennsylvania Assessing Current PPE Stockpile for Future COVID-19 and PHE Purposes

The Department of Health (DOH), Department of General Services (DGS), and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) are collaborating to right-size the current PPE stockpile for future COVID-19 and public health emergency purposes, and to ensure partners have sufficient quantities of PPE to protect against a likely fall/winter resurgence of COVID-19.

To that end, partners are encouraged to request PPE through this form. These resources are intended to support organizations for current or future COVID-19 protection, or other associated purposes (including training purposes) and are available at no cost to the recipient. These resources are NOT permitted to be used to offset normal operational costs for the procurement of PPE.

Please note that while you will be able to indicate requested quantities and size preferences, we will not be able to accommodate requests for specific brands/styles of products in the following categories:

  • N95 masks
  • Surgical masks
  • Isolation gowns
  • Face shields
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sanitizing wipes

Depending on how quickly you intend to use these resources, you may request to be sent “long dated” materials (expiration dates >6 months), “short dated” materials (expiration >1 month but <6 months), or recently expired materials if they are to be used for non-healthcare and/or training purposes that do not involve human contact. Organizations receiving recently expired materials must complete the attached waiver and submit to prior to receipt of PPE. We encourage facilities to request the shortest timeline product that can be used by your site.

This survey will be kept open and orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis through at least October 2022. Please email if you have any questions about this program. Thank you.

Biden-Harris Administration Now Accepting Applications for $1 Billion Rural High-Speed Internet Program

$1 Billion Increase in USDA ReConnect Program Round 4 Funding through the Historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is now accepting applications for ReConnect Program loans and grants to expand access to high-speed internet for millions of people in rural America nationwide. The Department is making more than $1 billion available, thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The program is a critical piece of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to connect every American to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.

“Ensuring that the people of rural America are connected with reliable, high-speed internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of our country, and it remains a core priority for President Biden,” Vilsack said. “That’s why high-speed internet is an important part of USDA Rural Development’s work with rural communities. Reliable high-speed internet opens the world’s marketplace to rural business owners. It enables them to expand their businesses and give more jobs and opportunities to people in their own community.”

On Sept. 6, USDA began accepting applications for loans, with available funds of $150 million, grants with available funds of $700 million, and combination loan/grant awards using $300 million under the ReConnect Program. These funds were appropriated under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Governmentwide, the law provides an historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.

The application deadline is Nov. 2. For additional information, see page 47690 of the Aug. 4 Federal Register.

USDA has made several improvements to the ReConnect Program for the current round of applications. Collectively, these improvements increase the availability of funding in rural areas where residents and businesses lack access to affordable, high-speed internet. They include:

  • Allowing applicants to serve areas where at least 50% of households lack sufficient access to high-speed internet.
  • Adding a funding category for projects where 90% of households lack sufficient access to high-speed internet. For applications submitted under this category, no matching funds will be required.
  • Waiving the matching funds requirement for: (a) Alaska Native Corporations, (b) Tribal Governments, (c) projects proposing to provide service in colonias, (d) projects proposing to serve persistent poverty counties and (e) projects proposing to provide service in socially vulnerable communities.

Additionally, to ensure that rural households in need of internet service can afford it, all awardees under this funding round will be required to apply to participate in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP offers a discount of up to $30 per month towards internet service to qualifying low-income households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal Lands. As a result, ACP-eligible households can receive internet at no cost and can sign up and check their eligibility at The Department’s actions to expand high-speed internet access in rural areas are key components of the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to help America build back better in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first round of the ReConnect Program, USDA invested $656 million to create or improve high-speed internet access for rural customers across 33 states and territories. In the second round of the ReConnect Program, USDA invested $850 million to create or improve high-speed internet access for rural customers across 37 states and territories. To date, USDA has announced $356 million in critical investments through the third round of ReConnect funding, for a total of $1.8 billion invested through the ReConnect Program since the program’s inception. More investments will be announced in the coming weeks.

Background: ReConnect Program

To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area where high-speed internet service is not available at speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) (download) and 20 Mbps (upload). The applicant must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service at speeds of 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area.

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit or contact the nearest USDA Rural Development state office.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit

If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.