Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

USPSTF Final Recommendation: Behavioral Counseling Interventions for Healthy Weight and Weight Gain in Pregnancy

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a final recommendation statement on behavioral counseling interventions for healthy weight and weight gain in pregnancy. The Task Force found that clinicians can help pregnant people and their babies by offering effective counseling on healthy weight and weight gain throughout pregnancy. To view the recommendation, the evidence on which it is based, and a summary for clinicians, please go here. The final recommendation statement can also be found in the May 25, 2021, online issue of JAMA.

Three New HIV Reports from CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published three new reports using HIV surveillance data:


To improve data interpretation and utility, these reports all feature data from the same timeframe: 2015-2019. HIV prevention partners can use these reports to monitor trends, determine successes, identify gaps in HIV prevention, and help direct prevention efforts and resource allocation.

GAO: Don’t Get Too Carried Away with Telehealth

The Government Accountability Office says the full effect of CMS waivers on telehealth coverage during the pandemic isn’t yet known, so agencies should wait until there is more research before expanding telehealth coverage for Medicare and Medicaid programs. The GAO made its case before Congress and in a May 19 report. It has concerns in four areas: spending, program integrity, patient health and safety and equity. Read more.

Diabetes Vaccine Shows Promise for Some Patients in Early Trial

In a small, early study, a vaccine for Type 1 diabetes helped preserve the body’s natural production of insulin, at least in a subset of newly diagnosed patients. In patients with Type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone that’s necessary for cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. These patients need lifelong insulin injections to stay alive. And because so many hidden factors inside the body can affect how much insulin a person needs, people who are insulin-dependent often have high and low blood sugar. Read more.

Moderna Seeks Full FDA Approval of Its COVID-19 Vaccine

Moderna is the second vaccine maker to seek full approval from U.S. regulators, which would allow it to market the shot directly to consumers. Full approval also makes it easier for schools, employers and the military to require inoculation against COVID-19. More than 100 million of the shots have already been administered, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more.

Biden Revokes Trump Administration Requirement that New Immigrants Have Health Insurance

On May 14, President Biden rescinded a proclamation by former President Donald Trump from 2019 that required potential immigrants to the U.S. to demonstrate that they would purchase qualifying health coverage or have the financial means to pay for expected medical costs. However, because the Trump policy was on hold due to legal challenges, Biden’s move will not have much real-world effect on the immigrant health care landscape.

Health Equity – and Inequity – Mapped

A new tool tracks health disparities in the U.S. and highlights major data gaps. Developed by a coalition of researchers and advocates from Google, Gilead, and Morehouse School of Medicine, Health Equity Tracker is a portal that collects, analyzes, and makes visible data to illustrate the health disparities that are a mainstay of medicine in the U.S. The COVID-19 pandemic has especially highlighted these disparities. But it has also shown that data on race and ethnicity are inconsistently reported; 38 percent of federally-collected COVID-19 cases don’t specify race and ethnicity. The coalition’s hope is that even after the pandemic, the tool can highlight the medical problems plaguing the U.S. to help community health leaders make informed policy decisions about other health crises. Read more here. Another health equity tool is PA HEAT (Pennsylvania’s Health Equity Assessment Tool) that is available here. PA HEAT is intended to provide a granular geographic perspective of areas that have significant opportunities to improve equity.

Government IDs and Pay NOT Required for COVID-19 Testing, Treatment or Vaccines

There is a growing number of reports that patients are being refused COVID-19 services because they cannot provide a government-issued ID or cannot pay. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has developed two fact sheets to help both patients and providers better understand that:

  • Everyone is eligible for COVID-19 services, no matter their immigration status.
  • Testing, treatment or vaccinations paid for by the federal government will not affect anyone’s immigration status nor be shared with immigration agencies.
  • A Social Security Number or government ID may be requested but is NOT required.
  • A person may not be billed for COVID-19 services if they are uninsured.
  • The Fact Sheets and additional information can be found here in both English and Spanish.