Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

CMS Releases First Round of Medicaid and CHIP Renewals Data

On July 28, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its first monthly data report on Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) eligibility renewals. These data will inform the Biden-Harris Administration’s critical work to help ensure eligible people stay covered, and to help ensure people no longer eligible for Medicaid or CHIP to transition to a range of other coverage options, including affordable health insurance through and state Marketplaces.

The data detail updates from the 18 states that had completed at least one cohort of renewals by April 30, 2023, highlighting how many people kept their Medicaid and CHIP coverage, as well as the number of people who were disenrolled from coverage. CMS is also releasing data on state Medicaid call centers, including average wait times and the number of people who disconnected before speaking to a customer service representative. In addition, CMS is releasing Marketplace data on consumers who were previously enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP that came to the and applied for coverage and State-based Marketplaces (SBM) data on consumers who transitioned to SBM coverage following a Medicaid or CHIP redetermination. See a national summary of the data at a glance, or read more about the data at

CMS continues to work closely with states as people renew their Medicaid and CHIP coverage or explore other coverage options. In addition to the new data, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra sent a letter to Governors encouraging states to do more to adopt strategies to automatically renew coverage for people where states already have data showing the person is eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.

HRSA’S Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Team Wins 2023 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is proud to announce that today the team of Megan Meacham, Allison Hutchings, and Sarah O’Donnell from the HRSA Federal Office of Rural Health Policy was named the winner of the 2023 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award by the Partnership for Public Service. This team established the HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), which has helped millions of people in rural communities across the country receive opioid use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

The Service to America Medals, known as the Sammies, are often called the “Oscars” of public service and represent the very best of the federal government.  The People’s Choice Award grants special recognition to the team that receives the most votes from the general public, highlighting how the work of the federal government resonates in communities. HRSA, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), provides health care to the nation’s highest need communities and supports training and growing the health care workforce. HRSA programs include support for rural communities, historically underserved communities, people with low incomes, people with HIV, infants, children, and new parents.

“I’m thrilled that the work of the HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program team resonated most with the American public,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The work to reduce the dangers of substance use disorder in high-risk rural communities is critically important. Thank you to the Partnership for Public Service for recognizing this excellent, life-saving work.”

“Our government is powered by dedicated public servants like Megan Meacham, Allison Hutchings, Sarah O’Donnell, and the members of the HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program team,” said HHS Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm. “This award recognizes their important work on behalf of the American people and serves as a reminder of what government can achieve.”

“Megan, Allison, Sarah, and the entire HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Team represent the best of government service and – like all of our work at HRSA – they are driving change by helping communities get the health care services and supports they need,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “Their work to prevent and respond to the opioid crisis is making a real difference on the ground as rural communities have expanded treatment sites, grown their prevention strategies, and built and sustained pathways to recovery.  Our People’s Choice Award winning team is an incredible example of the work being done every day at HRSA to make a difference in the lives of people across the country who need health care services.  We are very proud of their leadership and their embodiment of the HRSA mission.”

To help tackle the public health crisis of opioid use disorder in rural communities, Meacham, Hutchings, and O’Donnell created the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program. The funding provided through the program allows grant recipients to provide services tailored to the needs of their communities and pilot innovative practices.

To date, the program has invested over $500 million and served more than 4 million rural individuals in over 1,800 rural counties across 47 states and two territories. Through RCORP, HRSA has supported training approximately 634,000 service providers, paraprofessional staff and community members.

New Report Released on Network Adequacy in Pennsylvania

By law, health plans must provide their members with reasonable access to in-network providers and services. Yet many Pennsylvanians face delays of months or even years in scheduling appointments as well as excessively long driving distances to treatment locations.

Our new report, Healthcare Network Inadequate to Serve All: Causes and Solutions in Pennsylvania, discusses what happens when health plan networks are inadequate to serve their members, why this happens, and what the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can do about it.

USDA Rural Development Funds First Responder Programs in Pennsylvania

Grants Will Benefit More Than 52,000 People in Rural Pennsylvania

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) State Director for Rural Development in Pennsylvania announced that USDA is awarding $1.7 million in grants to five organizations as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

“USDA Rural Development is committed to preserving access to care in rural communities,” State Director of Pennsylvania Bob Morgan said. “Rural towns are a gathering place where first responders put people’s safety first and hospitals care for everyone. USDA promotes a healthy community and environment through grants to make sure people, kids and families have access to the health care they need.”

The awards are part of the Emergency Rural Health Care Grants program. These projects are estimated to benefit 52,245 rural Pennsylvanians.

For example, the Olean General Hospital received $1 million to offset the revenue lost in 2021 due to lower volume of patients resulting in lower revenues for Olean General Hospital, which is in the City of Olean, in Cattaraugus County, New York. Olean General Hospital is doing business as (DBA) Bradford Regional Medical Center, which is in the city of Bradford, in McKean County, Pennsylvania. This project will benefit an estimated 43,450 people.

“Supporting rural health care infrastructure is crucial to the safety, well-being and prosperity of our rural communities,” New York State Director for USDA Rural Development Brian Murray said. “Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA Rural Development is dedicating resources to support and improve the long-term viability of our rural health care partners and their facilities to ensure patients have access to high-quality health care.”

The Albion Volunteer Fire Department in Erie County received $83,400 to purchase a Medix MSVII Type 1 Ambulance. The ambulance will be used to provide pre-hospital emergency medical care and transport of patients to medical facilities. This project will benefit an estimated 1,516 people.

Endless Mountain Health Systems Inc. in Susquehanna County received $32,300 to purchase a pharmaceutical dispensing cabinet. The equipment will be used in the hospital’s emergency room department and store over 200 different types of medication for use in emergency and pandemic-related situations. This project will benefit an estimated 2,844 people.

The McConnellsburg Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 in Fulton County received $562,500 to purchase a 2020 Pierce Arrow Pumper. The department will use the new vehicle to replace a 1991 truck that is nearing the end of its useful life. The new vehicle will allow the company to provide more reliable service to the community. This project will benefit an estimated 1,220 people.

The New Love Center received $177,500 to purchase food supplies for a food pantry that will be distributed and stored in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. Funds will also be used to purchase a mobile food pantry unit to include an F350 truck and an enclosed pantry trailer, which will be upfitted with coolers, shelving, storage, and supplies. The organization primarily serves the residents of Clinton and Lycoming Counties by providing the daily and long-term needs of food, shelter and clothing. This project will benefit an estimated 3,215 people.

You can read the complete news release on our website.

30 Day Public Inspection Period and Comments Received from USDA Rural Development’s Periodic Review of Rural Areas in Pennsylvania (Housing Programs)

On March 8, 2023, USDA Rural Development issued a 90-day public notice informing the public that USDA was conducting a periodic review of all areas under its jurisdiction to identify areas that no longer qualify as rural for housing programs. The 90-day public notice listed communities under review for potential eligibility changes and provided the public with a link to submit comments or concerns regarding any potential loss of eligibility.

In accordance with 7 CFR 3550.56 and HB-1-3550, Section 5.3 (C)(1), USDA Rural Development has concluded the 90-day public notice and comment period and has reviewed areas under its jurisdiction to identify areas that no longer qualify as “Rural” for housing programs as well as areas that will now be considered as eligible rural areas.

During the 90-day public comment period, a total of (4) public comments were received. Thank you to all those who submitted comments. Public comments help the Agency better understand how communities are impacted from a potential change in eligibility and are considered throughout the determination process.

For a complete review of comments received, or questions regarding rural area boundaries, please contact Single Family Housing Program Director, Michelle Musser at (570) 433-5082 or via email at

The updated rural area map can now be viewed on our eligibility website.

Users will need to click on the program, for example “Single Family Housing Direct” or “Single Family Housing Guaranteed,” and then click on the “Accept” button on the disclaimer page, if presented, and then click on the “Proposed Eligibility Areas” tab.

Revised rural boundaries will become effective October 1, 2023. For areas whose designation will change from rural to non-rural, a one-time notice will be published 30 days prior to implementation date confirming the updated boundaries.

HRSA Seeks Grant Reviewers

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is seeking individuals to serve as grant reviewers in the coming months. HRSA relies on grant reviewers to select the best programs from a competitive group of applicants. Having reviewers with expertise in oral health care programing and/or equitable access to preventive health care greatly benefits the review process and is also an opportunity to learn about the review process itself. Reviews are typically held remotely over a period of a few days. Non-federal participants selected as a reviewer and who complete their assigned duties receive an honorarium.

Click here for more information and to apply.

Community Catalyst Pushes for Expanded Dental Coverage

Community Catalyst submitted a letter to the Biden Administration urging them to address the gaps and inconsistences in the Affordable Care Act’s essential health benefits. Community Catalyst and 50 other groups, including the PA Coalition for Oral Health, signed on to the letter, which also called on the Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to adopt several health care services into the Essential Health Benefits framework, including oral health care.

Click here to read the press release.
Click here to read the letter.

Non-Invasive Caries Therapy Guide Released

The CareQuest Institute for Oral Health published the “CareQuest Non-Invasive Caries Therapy Guide,” an illustrated manual of tips and tricks on how to perform evidence-based techniques to improve oral health for all. The goals of the guide are to increase access to care by decreasing resilience on invasive dentistry, transform the oral health workforce by empowering non-dentists to manage dental caries, improve clinical outcomes, and lower barriers to adopting evidence-based techniques.

Click here to read the guide.

New CareQuest Infographic Published: Oral Health and Overall Health for Older Adults

The CareQuest Institute for Oral Health and the Lunder-Dineen Massachusetts General Hospital MOTIVATE Program created an infographic that explains the importance of oral health for the overall health of older adults. The infographic also includes recommendations including more communication between physicians, dentists, and patients about the connections between oral health and overall health.

There are versions of the infographic available for both providers and patients.

Click here for more information and to access the infographics.

Oral Health Resource Center Fluoride Varnish Handout Available

The Oral Health Resource Center shared a new patient education handout,  “Fluoride Varnish for Adults: Q&A.”

This resource provides information that health professionals can share with adults, including pregnant people, about how fluoride varnish can make their teeth more resistant to tooth decay. The resource explains what fluoride varnish is and discusses its safety. It also addresses things to avoid after it is applied to teeth, how long it lasts, how often it should be applied, and whether it is covered by dental insurance.

Click here to download the resource.