Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

The Interactive Medicare Telehealth Dashboard is Now Available

The use of telehealth among Medicare beneficiaries peaked in 2020 and decreased slightly in 2021; the highest telehealth use was for behavioral health and primary care visits. View this and other trends in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation’s recently released interactive Medicare Telehealth Trends Dashboardreportupcoming demo, and supplemental documents. You can see Medicare fee-for-service claims data aggregated by beneficiary characteristics visit specialty, year, state, and more. For additional information on telehealth research, visit

A New Guide Helps You “Grow Your Own”

The Growing Provider Shortage: Building the Case for Developing an HP-ET Program is a new resource from the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved to help you “grow your own” workforce. Understanding what roles are currently in demand, and which are likely to increase in demand soon, is critical to assessing what type of Health Professions Education and Training (HP-ET) or other recruitment programs can most benefit a health center. This newly produced ACU STAR² Center document is designed to highlight projected workforce needs based on National Health Service Corps vacancy data and provides an overview of options available to develop or sustain HP-ET programs to meet these needs.

The Network Adequacy Report Has Been Released for 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. The Pennsylvania Health Action Network (PHAN) released a new report, Healthcare Network Inadequate to Serve All: Causes and Solutions in Pennsylvania, which 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.

Pennsylvania Offers Consumers Resources on Mental Health and SUD Parity Rights

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys announced the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) has updated its resources available for consumers to learn about mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) coverage parity and their benefits and rights under the law. Commissioner Humphreys reiterated that PID’s enforcement of the protections found under parity law is a top priority for the Shapiro Administration. He also encouraged consumers to explore the resources PID has available and to file a complaint with the department if they believe they are not receiving the proper coverage. The updated resources include a new web page designed to help guide consumers to their coverage options, as well as new outreach materials that will help consumers spot red flags in their health plan’s coverage of mental health substance use disorder treatment. The new parity website can be accessed at

Pharma Earnings Have Jumped Over 10%

The five largest U.S. pharmaceutical companies by market cap — Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, AbbVie, and Pfizer — reported combined earnings of $81.9 billion in 2022, an $8 billion increase from 2021, according to a new analysis by Accountable. The US. The report comes as major players in the pharmaceutical industry try to buck provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that would allow Medicare to directly negotiate the prices of certain drugs with manufacturers in an effort to cut costs for older Americans. An analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found the IRA drug pricing provisions will reduce the federal deficit by $237 billion from 2022 to 2031. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is set to announce the first 10 drugs by Sept. 1, and their newly negotiated prices will take effect in 2026.

Shortages of Sterile Injectable Drugs Are Likely to Get Worse

Current shortages of sterile injectable drugs are likely to worsen, following a tornado that seriously damaged a Pfizer plant in North Carolina that manufactures nearly 25% of the nation’s supply of these drugs. In recent months providers have reported a shortage of around 300 drugs, many of which are sterile injectable ones, such as painkillers, anti-infectives, surgical muscle relaxants, anesthesia, and therapeutics. It is currently unclear which specific drugs will be most impacted by the tornado damage.

The White House Puts Insurance Companies on Alert for Mental Health Care

The Biden administration announced new proposed rules to reinforce legislation requiring insurance companies to cover mental health benefits to the same degree as medical and surgical benefits, with administration officials citing the stark lack of access Americans have to mental health care. The proposed rule reinforces the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act’s (MHPAEA) fundamental goal of ensuring that families have the same access to mental health and substance use benefits as they do physical health benefits. Specifically, the proposed rule would require health plans to make changes when they are providing inadequate access to mental health care, make it clear what health plans can and cannot do, and close existing loopholes.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Releases New Fact Sheets

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a detailed summary of the mitigation strategies states are using to address areas of non-compliance with Medicaid renewal requirements. This includes a summary of the top 10 mitigation strategies and information on each state’s area(s) of non-compliance and the adopted strategies to address non-compliance. This information is current as of March 31, 2023. CMS also released a three-page summary on CMS authority and oversight on returning to regular Medicaid renewals. This document outlines the data monitoring strategy CMS is implementing, actions CMS can take when states are not complying with federal requirements and technical assistance opportunities from CMS.

About 3.7 Million Medicaid Beneficiaries Have Been Disenrolled Nationally

Data collected from 37 states and DC as of July 25 shows at least 3,724,000 Medicaid beneficiaries have been disenrolled from Medicaid according to NACHC’s National Enrollment Data Tracker. Overall, 37% of people with a completed renewal were disenrolled in those states that reported, while 63%, or 5.7 million enrollees, had their coverage renewed (five of the reporting states do not provide data on renewed enrollees). Of concern nationally is the anticipated number of individuals disenrolled due to procedural reasons such as not receiving renewal packets in the mail, not understanding the notices, or not returning the packets prior to the termination date. Specific state data for Medicaid and CHIP enrollment is available. Some states want to reduce Medicaid beneficiaries overall while others want to preserve coverage for as many people as possible. States also had varying timelines to initiate unwinding-related renewals which plays a factor in the numbers.

White House Launches Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy

As part of President Biden’s commitment to ensure that our country is more prepared for a pandemic than when he took office, the Administration announced it is standing up the Office of Pandemic Preparedness and Response Policy (OPPR). This will be a permanent office in the Executive Office of the President (EOP) charged with leading, coordinating, and implementing actions related to preparedness for, and response to, known and unknown biological threats or pathogens that could lead to a pandemic or to significant public health-related disruptions in the United States. OPPR will take over the duties of the current COVID-19 Response Team and Mpox Team at the White House and will continue to coordinate and develop policies and priorities related to pandemic preparedness and response. OPPR will:

  • Coordinate the Administration’s domestic response to public health threats that have pandemic potential, or may cause significant disruption, and strengthen domestic pandemic preparedness. This includes ongoing work to address potential public health outbreaks and threats from COVID-19, Mpox, polio, avian and human influenza, and RSV.
  • Drive and coordinate federal science and technology efforts related to pandemic preparedness. Specifically, OPPR will oversee efforts to develop, manufacture, and procure the next generation of medical countermeasures, including leveraging emerging technologies and working with HHS on next-generation vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and other public health threats. During the height of the pandemic, the Biden-Harris Administration made historic investments in COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments that were made widely available. OPPR will continue to leverage these investments as it drives future progress in combatting COVID-19 and other public health threats.
  • Develop and provide periodic reports to Congress. As required by statute, OPPR will develop and provide to Congress a biennial Preparedness Review and Report and an every five-year Preparedness Outlook Report.