Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Maternal Mortality Crisis and Extension of Medicaid Postpartum Coverage

Examining the effect of extended postpartum coverage brought by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, policy experts present evidence that ensuring access to care for 12 months after giving birth is a key strategy to address the U.S. maternal mortality crisis.  The authors note that Medicaid is used predominantly in rural areas and by individuals who are racial/ethnic minorities.  The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show significantly higher rates of maternal death in 2021. A separate report from the CDC, out last month, reveals 1 in 5 women reported mistreatment while receiving maternity care, with clear disparities by race/ethnicity and insurance types.  The FORHP-funded Rural Health Research Centers have increased their work on this issue in the last three years, following an earlier determination that rates of maternal mortality have long been higher for rural residents.

Congress Has Increased Rural Physician Training – Is it Working? 

Experts analyze Medicare-funded residency training two years after Congress created 1,000 new residency slots reserved specifically for rural and underserved areas.  The data show a need to re-examine residency slot distribution methods, sustainable funding, and technical assistance supporting rural locations.   FORHP began a separate effort a few years before with the Rural Residency Planning and Development Program (RRPD).  Since 2019, RRPD has funded $54 million to 73 organizations across 36 states and six medical disciplines.

New! Highlights and Opportunities Identified from Rural Health Value Summit: Driving Value Through Community-Based Partnerships

The Rural Health Value team is pleased to release the following report that from a recent summit that explored driving value through community-based partnerships:

Rural Health Value Summit: Driving Value Through Community-Based Partnerships
Four rural communities (in AK, MI, OR, SC) shared experiences with health care and community-based partnerships that highlighted several opportunities for policymakers, payers, and health system leaders for building and supporting social needs infrastructure in rural communities in alignment with value-based care strategies. Possible next steps for cross-sector leaders to explore the opportunities further are offered.

Related resources on the Rural Health Value website:

  • Profiles in Innovation. See links stories in rural health care delivery and finance that emerging across the nation. The profiles describe exciting, and potentially replicable, innovations in rural health care that show promise in improving health, improving care, and lowering costs. Many of the profiles include actions to address community health needs.
  • Northern Michigan Community Health Innovation Region. This partnership of health and community providers across ten rural counties in Northern Michigan addresses social determinants of health through systems change and collaboration, including development of a Community Connections Hub Network, a clinical community linkages model that connects individuals and families to community resources.

Understanding and Addressing Social Determinants of Health: Opportunities to Improve Health Outcomes. A Guide for Rural Health Care Leaders. This guide provides rural health care leaders and teams with foundational knowledge, strategies, and resources to understand the impact of social determinants of health (SDOH) on patients and communities.

Contact information:

Clint MacKinney, MD, MS, Co-Principal Investigator,

Pennsylvania Data Center News: ACS 1-Year Estimates Released

New 1-Year Estimates Data Released

The U.S. Census Bureau has released a new set of estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS) for the year 2022, providing new data for a variety of demographic and economic topics for the nation, states, and other areas with populations of 65,000 or more.

Significant statistical changes for the Commonwealth from 2021 to 2022 included a decline in median household income, an increase in the median value of owner-occupied housing units, and an increase in the share of householders who rented. For more information, or to access these estimates, please click here to read our full brief.

Upcoming Decennial Census Release

The U.S. Census Bureau plans to release its next decennial product one week from today (9/21), the 2020 Census Detailed Demographic and Housing Characteristics File A. The Detailed DHC-A provides population counts and sex-by-age statistics for approximately 1,500 detailed race and ethnic groups and detailed American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) tribes and villages. Stay tuned for more information as the data are released!

September 2023 Updates on HRSA’s OPTN Modernization Initiative

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is pleased to share an update on our efforts related to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) Modernization Initiative.

HRSA is committed to continued dialogue with OPTN stakeholders to ensure that patient, family, and clinician voices are engaged in the OPTN modernization efforts.  In June 2023, HRSA, through its engagement with a program management support contractor, kicked off stakeholder interviews to better understand the pain points and perspectives of individuals and organizations that directly interact with the OPTN. Stakeholder engagement with patients also began this month.  In addition, a web-based contact form is now available on the OPTN Modernization website to provide another avenue to solicit feedback from patients, families, clinicians, and other interested parties.

HRSA is focused on fostering robust competition and innovation to procure best in class support for the OPTN through ongoing market research and industry engagement.  To advance this, HRSA hosted an Industry Day for interested parties and vendors to solicit feedback on the Fall 2023 solicitation.  Information shared during Industry Day is available on

HRSA and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are engaged in a coordinated effort through the Organ Transplant Affinity Group’s (OTAG) newly released action plan to improve organ donation, procurement, and transplantation.  Both agencies are committed to drive improvements in donations, clinical outcomes, system improvement, quality measurement and transparency, and regulatory oversight.

HRSA will continue to provide updates on our modernization efforts toward achieving enhanced accountability, equity, and performance in the organ transplantation system.

For more information and the latest OPTN Modernization updates, visit

The NHSC Student to Service Loan Repayment Application Now Open

The 2024 National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Students to Service Loan Repayment Program is now open. Final-year nursing, medical, and dental students can apply for up to $120,000 in exchange for a three-year commitment to providing primary care services at NHSC-approved sites in high-need areas. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) added a $40,000 supplement for medical students who commit to providing OB/GYN services in a maternity care target area. The application deadline is 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 7.

The Public Health Nursing Program is Seeking Applicants and Hosts

The Pennsylvania Action Coalition is seeking both applicants and host sites for the AmeriCorps Public Health Nursing Program. This program is designed to provide undergraduate nursing students with community-based primary care and public health clinical experiences while serving vulnerable communities. Sign up to be an AmeriCorps Public Health Nursing fellow. Host sites will be responsible for onboarding, and onsite supervising, and can network with nursing students who will be potential job seekers after service. If you are interested in becoming a host site for the nursing fellows, please email Christine Simon at

CMS ACO Data Highlights Important Role of PCPs in Cost Control

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the most recent data on Medicare Shared Savings Program Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), showing that the program reduced total Medicare spending for the sixth year in a row. Most notably, the data demonstrated that primary care providers are highly effective at controlling overall patient costs. Among ACOs that achieved savings, those that included medium or large hospitals averaged $140 per capita in net savings, while those whose members were at least 75% primary care clinicians saw $294 in per capita savings – over twice as much. CMS stated, “These results underscore how important primary care is to the success of the Shared Savings Program.”