Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

CDC Now Offers Free HIV Self-Test Kits

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Together TakeMeHome initiative is a national direct-to-consumer program that offers free HIV self-tests by mail. People can order up to two free HIV self-tests every 90 days. Tests are available to anyone 17 or older, regardless of health insurance or immigration status. CDC supports this program in partnership with other organizations. They also offer resources health centers can use to promote self-testing as part of their “Let’s Stop HIV Together” initiative.

A New Toolkit Has Been Created to Support Routine Vaccination Catch-Up in School-Aged Children

Kindergarten vaccination coverage in the United States is the lowest it has been in decades, placing children and their communities at risk for preventable disease outbreaks. The Public Health Foundation, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, developed an actionable toolkit containing evidence-based strategies, tools, and resources to support and address routine vaccination catch-up. Share and review the toolkit with your education partners.

Recently Women’s Unpaid Caregiving Labor Has Valued at $627B

Becker’s Hospital Review reports that a common scapegoat for the gender wage gap now has numeric value: U.S. women would collectively make an additional $627 billion per year if paid for their caregiving work. That figure comes from the 2022 American Time Use Survey, conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families. If a woman earned the mean wage of $14.55 per hour for childcare workers or home aides, the average American woman would bring home an additional $4,600 annually. Unpaid caregiving labor costs financial opportunity for everyone, regardless of gender, according to the report. Men’s unpaid caregiving work is worth more than $300 billion per year, costing each individual $2,300 annually.

Pennsylvania Safe Haven Sites Had Rescued Five Babies in 2022

Five babies were dropped off at the state’s Safe Haven sites last year, new data from the PA Department of Human Services shows. The state’s Safe Haven Law allows new moms to relinquish babies at sites, such as hospitals and police stations, in a bid to provide a means to protect the children in situations where they might be unsafe. Since the law was enacted in 2002, a total of 55 newborns have been received as Safe Haven infants. These infants have come from 31 counties, with most relinquishments occurring in the Western region of the state (27 infants). The Central region had the second highest number of infants relinquished at 16, followed by seven in the Northeast region, and six in the Southeast region. The data was included in the state’s annual report on Child Protective Services.

The Updated Federal Unwinding Reports for Pennsylvania Are Being Released

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) has published three reports required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Pennsylvania’s Medicaid unwinding. The first report is a point-in-time baseline report with pending data. The second report is a monthly snapshot of data. Both reports are for the entire Medicaid population. A third document called the Continuous Eligibility Unwinding Plan explains how DHS will process all Medicaid and CHIP renewals. The July 2023 monthly report shows 273,057 total beneficiaries for whom a renewal was initiated during the reporting period with 247,827 due for renewal. Of those renewed and retained, 11,842 were renewed on an ex parte basis, 83,667 were renewed using a pre-populated form, 26,627 were transferred to Pennie, 20,606 individuals were terminated for procedural reasons and 105,085 renewals were not completed. The ex parte automated process has experienced system glitches, and some applications are being processed manually. To view these reports, visit the PA DHS Federal Unwinding Reports webpage.

Find Out How Many Older Adults in Employer Plans Can’t Afford Care

With premiums and deductibles outpacing income growth over the past decade, employer health plans are failing to protect many older adults from health costs or ensure access to affordable care, a new Commonwealth Fund study shows. Large shares of adults ages 50 to 64 in these plans, especially people with low or moderate income, can’t afford needed care and struggle to pay their medical bills. Learn what policymakers can do to expand coverage options for people in this age group. Read more.

Advocates Gear Up for a Busy Fall with Important Issues in Play

Healthcare advocacy groups are gearing up for a busy autumn, once Congress returns to Washington, DC the week of Labor Day. Government spending is expected to be the focus of the fall, including funding for Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps, Teaching Health Centers, and other workforce programs that require reauthorization to be funded. Several hospital-related issues involving payment, mergers, and price transparency are also in play, as is the Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) reform and 340B. Several groups expect a general “health care package” to move later this fall.

Read Here About the Recent Pennsylvania COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Updates

With the end of the COVID-19 Vaccine Program, questions remain about where health centers can order COVID-19 vaccines. Utilize the Immunization Program Directory to contact your immunization program manager to order vaccines after August 23. Once available, vaccines for adults can be ordered through the CDC Bridge Access Program for COVID-19 Vaccines, Expanding COVID-19 Vaccination (ECV) funds may be used to purchase COVID-19 vaccines. If ECV-purchased vaccines are administered to individuals with payer sources (e.g., Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance), you must seek reimbursement and adjust your financial records accordingly. The Pennsylvania Department of Health has approximately 7,000 free POC COVID-19 tests expiring on September 27 and October 29.

Here You Can Read About the Increasing Access to Telehealth

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and Lifeline are federal government programs that help eligible households pay for internet services and internet-connected devices. Eligible households can enroll for ACP online or with a mail-in application in English or Spanish.’s Getting Help with Access webpage includes information about these programs. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently added a new video to acquaint new telehealth patients with the technology (scroll down to “Video meetings”). FCC’s ACP Consumer Outreach Toolkit offers resources to help you spread the word.