Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Pennsylvania Health Department Announces Appointment of State EMS Medical Director

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Bureau of EMS has appointed Dr. Daniel Bledsoe as the next State EMS Medical Director to serve the Bureau of EMS in consulting and advising on matters related to EMS, effective January 30, 2023.

Dr. Bledsoe has been a member of the EMS community since 1989, after joining his local fire department while in high school. Dr. Bledsoe currently serves as the EMS Medical Director for UPMC in the Central Pennsylvania Region with oversight of several agencies including Lancaster EMS, UPMC Community LifeTeam EMS, and a regional online medical control facility serving six counties.

Dr. Bledsoe served as the charter medical director of the UPMC West Shore Hospital Emergency Department and maintains clinical privileges at several UPMC hospitals in Central Pennsylvania. In his role as an EMS physician, Dr. Bledsoe continues to actively participate in field operations and has served as the interim chief of two hospital-based EMS services during times of transition. While attending West Virginia University for his undergraduate degree and Marshall University for his medical degree, Dr. Bledsoe has severed as an Emergency Medical Technician and instructor with Jan-Care Ambulance, Monongalia County EMS, and Marshall University EMS. Continuing to support EMS education, Dr. Bledsoe has served as the program medical director for Harrisburg Area Community College and currently serves as the medical director for the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences Paramedic Program.

Dr. Bledsoe holds board certification in Emergency Medicine and Emergency Medical Services through the American Board of Emergency Medicine. In addition to his various clinical roles, Dr. Bledsoe is a proud member of Pennsylvania Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), which is one of just 28 national Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) USAR teams in the country. With Task Force One, Dr. Bledsoe serves as a Medical Team Manager and has deployed to disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Surfside Collapse. Dr. Bledsoe also serves as a researcher on matters related to EMS and has served as a site principal investigator and coordinator for the RAMPART trial which included York Area EMS agencies, including the leading site for enrollment within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (White Rose Ambulance).

Dr. Bledsoe is a resident of York County where he lives with his wife Allison and four children.

U.S. Office of Management and Budget Releases Initial Proposals on Revising Race and Ethnicity Statistical Standards

The Office of the Chief Statistician is taking a key step forward in its formal process to revise OMB’s statistical standards for collecting and reporting race and ethnicity data across Federal agencies (Directive No. 15) by publishing an initial set of recommended revisions proposed by an Interagency Technical Working Group.

This process commenced last summer with the goal of ensuring that the standards better reflect the diversity of the American people. Comprising Federal government career staff who represent more than 20 agencies, the Working Group was charged with proposing recommendations for improving the quality and usefulness of Federal race and ethnicity data. Today we are announcing those initial proposals, which include:

  • Collecting race and ethnicity together with a single question;
  • Adding a response category for Middle Eastern and North African, separate and distinct from the “White” category; and
  • Updating SPD 15’s terminology, definitions, and question wording.

It’s important to remember that the recommendations are preliminary—not final—and they do not represent the positions of OMB or the agencies participating on the Working Group.

As we consider these recommendations, we want to hear directly from the American people. Input from non-governmental stakeholders and the public will help guide the Working Group as it continues to refine and finalize its recommendations. We encourage everyone to provide your personal thoughts and reactions on these proposals, including how you believe they may affect different communities, by April 12, 2023.

You can visit the Working Group’s new website, read the full Federal Register Notice, provide feedback on the Working Group’s initial proposals, and participate in one of the Working Group’s virtual, bi-monthly listening sessions or upcoming public virtual town halls to share your individual perspectives directly. You can provide as little or as much feedback as you’d like for the Federal Register Notice (e.g., just addressing one question posed or responding to all aspects). To schedule a listening session to offer your perspective, please send a brief email expressing interest to  Additional details on the virtual town halls will be shared on the Working Group’s website. In all of our efforts to gather your valuable feedback, we will not be seeking consensus recommendations.

We are committed to a full, transparent revision process, guided by input from the American people. Your participation in this process will play a critical role in helping us improve the way Federal agencies safely and accurately collect and use information on the race and ethnicity of our diverse America. This is vital to ensure our programs and policies are effective across the Federal government—and we look forward to sharing additional updates in the months ahead. We are on track to reach the goal of completing these important revisions by the Summer of 2024.

Resources: Savings Under the New Prescription Drug Law

The Biden-Harris Administration has made expanding access to health insurance and lowering health care costs for America’s families a top priority. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has many resources to help you and people with Medicare understand how and when changes will happen as a result of the new prescription drug law.

Materials for People with Medicare

Help get information into the hands of beneficiaries who need it. Check out these resources on

Want to know more?

We’ve also got resources to help those who assist people with Medicare understand which elements of the prescription drug law are already in effect and when others will be implemented.

Key dates for drug price negotiation implementation include:

  • By September 1, 2023, CMS will publish the first 10 Medicare Part D drugs selected for the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program.
  • The negotiated maximum fair prices for these drugs will be announced by September 1, 2024 and prices will be in effect starting January 1, 2026.

In future years, CMS will select for negotiation 15 more Part D drugs for 2027, 15 more Part B or Part D drugs for 2028, and 20 more Part B or Part D drugs for each year after that, as outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Wave of Rural Nursing Home Closures Grows Amid Staffing Crunch

Marjorie Kruger was stunned to learn last fall that she would have to leave the nursing home where she’d lived comfortably for six years.

The Good Samaritan Society facility in Postville, Iowa, would close, administrators told Kruger and 38 other residents in September. The facility joined a growing list of nursing homes being shuttered nationwide, especially in rural areas.

“The rug was taken out from under me,” said Kruger, 98. “I thought I was going to stay there the rest of my life.”

Her son found a room for her in another Good Samaritan center in Waukon, a small town 18 miles north of Postville. Kruger said the new facility is a pleasant place, but she misses her friends and longtime staffers from the old one. “We were as close as a nice family,” she said.

The Postville facility’s former residents are scattered across northeastern Iowa. Some were forced to move twice, after the first nursing home they transferred to also went out of business.

Owners say the closures largely stem from a shortage of workers, including nurses, nursing assistants, and kitchen employees.

The problem could deepen as pandemic-era government assistance dries up and care facilities struggle to compete with rising wages offered by other employers, industry leaders and analysts predict. Many care centers that have managed to remain open are keeping some beds vacant because they don’t have enough workers to responsibly care for more residents.

The pandemic brought billions of extra federal dollars to the long-term care industry, which was inundated with covid-19 infections and more than 160,000 resident deaths. Many facilities saw business decline amid lockdowns and reports of outbreaks. Staff members faced extra danger and stress.

The industry is still feeling the effects.

Read the full article here.

What Will Save Rural Health Care?

Rural hospitals and healthcare facilities face amplified financial challenges amid persisting workforce shortages, rising costs and leveling reimbursement. Reserves are dwindling and without urgent action, hundreds of facilities face closure.

But it’s not too late. Mobile health, partnerships, new payment methods and government support can make a big difference to rural hospitals across the U.S. Becker’s asked 33 healthcare executives to share their best ideas to save rural healthcare, and here they are. The executives featured in this article are all speaking at the Becker’s Healthcare CEO+CFO Roundtable on Nov. 13-16, 2023 in Chicago.

Read the article here.

KFF’s Kaiser Health News Launches Weekly “KHN Health Minute” on CBS News Radio 

KFF’s Kaiser Health News (KHN) is launching a weekly one-minute health information segment for CBS News Radio stations that will help millions of listeners stay informed and make better health decisions.

CBS News Radio began offering the KHN Health Minute to its more than 700 affiliate stations weekly on Jan. 12. The brief segments will include a broad range of health stories and consumer information reported by KHN’s nationwide team of health reporters. Listeners can expect stories ranging from navigating medical bills and debt, to changes in health care delivery and policy and public health. A signature focus of the minutes will be on what all the changes and policy debates that people hear about actually mean for them.

In the first KHN Health Minute, hear how noise pollution affects health and why an optimistic outlook may help people live longer.

The collaboration is the latest product of an ongoing partnership between CBS News and KHN.

“Expanding on KHN’s partnership with CBS, I’m thrilled to offer the network’s radio listeners across the country the KHN Health Minute,” said KHN Editor-in-Chief Elisabeth Rosenthal. “It offers a fun, fast and informative way to keep up with the latest and most important health care news.”

“Every day health news is in the headlines as we battle new and emerging threats. Our listeners will benefit greatly with this topical information that is both accessible and actionable,” said Craig Swagler, vice president and general manager of CBS News Radio. “The powerful audience reach of the radio medium connects on-the-go listeners with health information they need and can use instantaneously.”

Listeners can check for the KHN Health Minute on their local CBS News Radio station.

The broader partnership also features regular appearances by Dr. Céline Gounder, KHN’s senior fellow and editor-at-large for public health, on all of CBS News’ platforms, as well as stories, segments, and specials drawing upon reporting from across KHN’s newsroom and bureaus. It includes the popular “Bill of the Month” series, in which Rosenthal appears regularly on “CBS Mornings” to discuss surprising medical bills and what they tell us about the U.S. health care system. “Bill of the Month” is a collaborative investigative project of KHN and NPR.

KHN, a program of KFF, is an award-winning news service with a national newsroom in Washington, D.C., and a rapidly growing network of regional bureaus in California, the Midwest, the Mountain States, and the South, as well as a new Rural Health Desk. KHN works with many editorial partners, and media outlets can republish KHN stories at no charge. News organizations interested in working with KHN should contact the news service at

About KFF and KHN

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis, Polling and Survey Research and Social Impact Media, KHN is one of the four major operating programs at KFF. KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

About CBS News Radio:

CBS News Radio provides news, talk, information, entertainment, and special events coverage to more than 700 radio stations in the United States, with affiliates in 24 of the top 25 markets. CBS News Radio is also heard hourly on the SiriusXM Platform on P.O.T.U.S. (Channel 124). CBS News Radio is home to the “CBS World News Roundup,” the nation’s longest-running news program, debuting in 1938. In addition to providing breaking news and information, the division provides simulcasts of the CBS EVENING NEWS, FACE THE NATION, and 60 MINUTES to affiliates. CBS News Radio programming is available digitally through the CBS News Radio app, Apple Music, Amazon’s Alexa service, and on the web.

Follow CBS News Radio on Twitter, Facebook, and online at


The COVID-19 Mortality Rates across Noncore, Micropolitan, and Metropolitan Counties by Community Characteristics From December 2020-January 2021

  This policy brief from the RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis examines differences in COVID-19 mortality rates across rural-urban designations and stratifications by geography, county-level sociodemographic factors, and county-level health care factors. Between December 2020 and January 2021, COVID-19 deaths were at their peak, hospital capacity was stretched, and COVID-19 vaccines were not widely available, making this a critical time period to examine.