Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Guide to State Policies for Mental Health

The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors present three resource guides for mental health, including a section for rural communities.  The resource guide for Topic A covers bed registries and services for behavioral health crises; Topic B gives guidelines on diversion from jail; and Topic C provides resources for improving mental health services within jails.

Household Food Security in the U.S. Last Year

The Economic Research Service (ERS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual report on access to adequate food for households in the U.S.  The survey data collected in December 2020 showed an estimated 89.5 percent of households had food access throughout the year, a number not significantly different from the same survey taken at the end of 2019.  The prevalence of very low food security for rural areas, 4.5 percent, was slightly higher than the national average of 3.9 percent.

RAND Weighs in on Vaccine Hesitancy

The RAND Corporation is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that researches and analyzes public policy.  Their recommendations promote the World Health Organization’s “three Cs” model: 1) boosting confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, 2) combating complacency about the pandemic, and 3) increasing the convenience of getting vaccinated.  Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited data showing lower COVID-19 vaccination coverage in rural areas.

ONC: Challenges to Interoperability

The ability to exchange electronic health data between facilities, known as interoperability, is essential to the long-term goals of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). This report examines the challenges for acute care hospitals – including rural hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals – exchanging electronic health information with public health agencies.  The report uses data collected in 2019 and identifies ongoing barriers that may have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

CDC: Overdose Deaths Up by a Third

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the latest data on reported deaths due to overdose within the 50 states and the District of Columbia.  While final counts are not yet complete, 90,133 deaths occurred between February 2020 and February 2021, an increase of more than 30 percent over the previous year. Read more here.

HRSA Releases New Projections for the Health Workforce

According to data collected by the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis (NCHWA), the supply of primary care physicians in the U.S. will see a shortage by the year 2030; a surplus of nurse practitioners and physician assistants is projected for the same time span.  The forecast shows the largest shortages in Nevada, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Arizona.  The NCHWA is part of the Bureau of Health Workforce (BHW) at the Health Resources and Services Administration.  Last week, BHW announced funding for a new federal program to increase the number of physician assistants in rural areas.  Accredited training programs that can demonstrate a high rate of rural placement for graduates may apply for the HRSA Physician Assistant Rural Training Program through December 9. Read more here.

HHS and USDA Launch Resource Guide for Child Care in Rural Areas

Yesterday, the U.S Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health & Human Services (HHS) released a new federal guide to strengthen and expand child care facilities in rural communities. The USDA-RD HHS-ACF Joint Facilities Resource Guide (pdf) includes best practices, innovative approaches, success stories, and a list of federal resources available.  The Administration of Children and Families (ACF) is the HHS agency administering federal programs for child care; Rural Development (RD) at the USDA focuses on improving the economy and quality of life.

CMS Releases Medicaid and CHIP Guidance Targeting Vaccination and Testing for COVID-19

To help states support families and communities and to continue to address health disparities, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is providing guidance to states about additional funding for states to promote the importance of COVID-19 vaccination for eligible individuals enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  CMS’s new guidance also highlights Medicaid and CHIP coverage for diagnostic and screening COVID-19 testing in a variety of settings, including schools.