Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

New CMS Coverage to Care Resources Available!

The Coverage to Care initiative is excited to release several new and updated resources to assist with care management.

C2C updated and released Medicare chronic care management (CCM) resources for health care providers and patients to raise awareness of the benefits of CCM for Medicare patients with multiple chronic conditions and provide health care providers with information to implement CCM.

Understanding prescriptions is an important part of managing care. C2C also released a new resource focused on understanding prescriptions and drug coverage. View the Tips for Understanding Your Drug Coverage & Prescriptions resource.

Better Understand Your Drug Coverage & Prescriptions

Learning about drug list rules or restrictions, prescription cost, and prescription labels ensure patients, including those with chronic conditions, continue to feel confident in properly managing their care. View the Tips For Understanding Your Drug Coverage & Prescriptions (available in Spanish, with additional languages to be developed) to learn more about the prescriptions and services available under your drug coverage and how to understand your prescriptions once you have them.

Explore these chronic care management resources

  • Read the Tips for Understanding Your Drug Coverage & Prescriptions to learn more about your drug coverage and staying healthy with your medications. (English | Spanish)
  • Download the Chronic Care Management at a Glance fact sheet, which outlines the benefits of CCM, responsibilities for CCM providers, payment information, and more. (English | Spanish)
  • View the Chronic Care Management Presentation for Health Care Professionals to learn more about CCM and how to start a successful program in your practice. (English | Spanish)
  • Share the Chronic Care Management for You and Your Family poster with those you serve, which explains how CCM can help them manage their chronic conditions and outlines the requirements to enroll in CCM services. (English | Spanish)
  • Review the Chronic Care Management Toolkit to learn how you can successfully build out CCM services in your practice and to educate patients, colleagues, and communities about the importance of CCM. (Spanish coming soon!)
  • Consult the CCM Provider Checklist to help you stay organized when providing CCM to those you serve.
  • Help your patients understand how they can benefit from CCM by sharing the Chronic Care Management Video.

To learn more about Coverage to Care, visit or sign up for our listserv.

Update: National & State Census Bureau Estimates

Nation & State Population Estimates

The U.S. Census Bureau released today estimates of the total population as of July 1, 2023, at the nation and state levels. Population estimates are calculated using administrative records to estimate components of population change such as births, deaths, and migration.

The nation showed a modest growth of 1.6 million (+0.5%) from 2022 to 2023. During that time, Pennsylvania experienced a slight loss of just over 10,000 (-0.1%) which was in line with the Northeast region overall (-0.1%). Pennsylvania was one of 8 states to lose population during this time. As of July 1, 2023, Pennsylvania continued to rank 5th highest among states based on total population.

View the full release HERE and access the data HERE.

Department of Transportation Maps Intercity Transportation in Rural Areas

The recently updated data resource provides information and an interactive map that shows the percentage of rural residents who have access to commercial air, intercity bus, or intercity rail transportation. Includes county-level data for the years 2006, 2012, 2018, and 2021. Depicts state-level transportation access data as well as demographic characteristics of rural areas.

Click here to read the full report.

Learn About Grantees for Rural Opioid Response Program

This series of short videos highlights the work of grantees for the FORHP-supported Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP).  Newly updated directories of FY2023 grantees are now available for four separate RCORP programs:

Click here to read the full article.

New Medicaid Health Equity Data Briefs Released

In an effort to measure disparities in access to care, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released three new briefs with data describing certain demographics and benefit use of enrollees in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  Adding to previous data briefs on race and ethnicity, disability, and primary language, new data is provided showing beneficiary information for:

Each includes information for rural populations.  For example, in 2020, about 5.7 million Medicaid- and CHIP-enrolled children under age 19 resided in a rural area, and 45 percent received a well-child visit compared to 51 percent of those living in urban areas.

Click here to read the full article.

CMS Allows Medicare Billing for Two New Provider Types for Mental Health Care

Beginning January 1, 2024, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will allow billing for two new provider types: Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) and Mental Health Counselors (MHC).  To qualify, MFTs and MHCs must be licensed or certified by the state where they provide services, have performed at least two years of clinical supervised experience, and meet other requirements of the federal government. The coverage of MFT and MHC practitioners can help address behavioral health work shortages in rural areas; recent research found that nearly one-fifth (18.4 percent) of rural counties are without a counselor compared to other behavior health provider types.  Learn more from CMS about how to become a Medicare provider.

Click here to read the full article.

Public Comments Requested: Interventions for Overweight/Obesity in Children and Adolescents

This week, national experts in disease prevention issued draft recommendations for clinical treatment of children with a high body mass index (BMI).  The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force identifies children and teens who are Hispanic/Latino, Native American/Alaska Native, Non-Hispanic Black, and from lower income families as those with the highest rates of obesity, determined by a BMI at or above the 95thpercentile for age and gender.  October 2023 research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that rural children and adolescents had higher odds of being overweight or obese than their urban counterparts.  The recommendation includes behavioral counseling interventions (pdf) from health professionals.

Comment by January 16.

Click here to read the full article.

Comments Requested for CMS Enforcement of State Medicaid Renewal Requirements

In January 2023, we first informed you of state-level changes to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) brought by the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). These programs play a critical role in rural areas, where people are more likely to be uninsured and face challenges accessing health care. In brief, states received extra federal funding to allow beneficiaries to keep their coverage – known as continuous enrollment – for as long as the PHE declaration remained in place.  As of August 2023, more than 13 million people had their enrollment in Medicaid/CHIP coverage renewed, but more than 7 million were disenrolled.  In this interim final rule, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) detail new reporting requirements for states as they “unwind” continuous enrollment – that is, return to reviewing the eligibility status of individuals and families.  The new requirements specify that reports for certain metrics, such as the number of individuals disenrolled and information about transitions to coverage through state Health Insurance Marketplaces, be completed and submitted in a timely manner.  New enforcement actions include suspended disenrollments, civil money penalties, and a reduction in federal funding known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage.

Comment by February 2.

Click here to read the full article.