Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

HRSA Celebrates National Maternal Mental Health Hotline’s First Anniversary; Introduces Updated Number: 1-833-TLC-MAMA

Almost 12,000 people have received support from the Hotline’s professional counselors during the first year, “You’ve made me feel heard and that there’s hope for me.”

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) celebrates the first anniversary of the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline.  Since its launch on Mother’s Day 2022, the hotline’s professional counselors have provided emotional support, resources, and referrals to almost 12,000 pregnant and postpartum individuals who struggled with mental health concerns, and their loved ones.

Additionally, HRSA is introducing an updated toll-free number for the Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262). The former number (1-833-9-HELP-4-MOMS or 1-833-943-5746) will continue to work for another year.

“Every mother or mother-to-be, across our nation, should have access to the help and support they need to be healthy. This hotline is one way our Administration is prioritizing maternal health and wellness,” said Vice President Kamala Harris.

“The first year of this hotline service marks a significant milestone in people having immediate access to mental health support and community-based resources during and after pregnancy,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The hotline is key method that the Biden-Harris Administration is strengthening both maternal health and mental health.”

“Being pregnant or caring for a child can bring many new challenges and the Maternal Mental Health Hotline is here to help,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “The hotline is available 24/7, via call or text, to make reaching out and getting help as easy as possible for mothers and their families. I urge any mom who is struggling or feeling alone to call or text 1-833-TLC-MAMA to get the help and support you deserve.”

The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline provides 24/7, free, confidential emotional support, resources and referrals before, during, and after pregnancy. The hotline is accessible by phone or text in English and Spanish and offers interpreter services in more than 60 languages. Hotline counselors include licensed health care providers such as nurses or doctors, licensed mental health clinicians, certified doulas or childbirth educators, and certified peer support specialists.

During the first year:

  • Hotline counselors responded to nearly 12,000 calls (70%) and texts (30%).
  • The majority of individuals contacting the hotline were seeking help for themselves (76%), while 5% of individuals were calling on behalf of someone else, like a family member or friend.
  • The top reasons for reaching out to the hotline were, 1) feeling overwhelmed, 2) depression, and 3) anxiety.
  • The average speed to answer was below 30 seconds (telephone calls 23 seconds, texts 16 seconds).
  • One caller stated, “I suddenly don’t feel like I’m drowning. I’m going to be okay. I hope people understand that it does help.” Another caller shared, “You’ve made me feel heard and that there’s hope for me.”

HRSA encourages all community-based providers, including health care and social service providers, early childhood and family support workers, and faith-based organizations, to help spread the word about the new number, 1-833-TLC-MAMA. New promotional materials are available for download or print order.

Expecting and new parents who feel overwhelmed or are experiencing depression and anxiety, as well as their loved ones, should reach out to the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline at 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262) for support and resources. Help is just a phone call or text away.

The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline is not intended as an emergency response line. Individuals in imminent danger of harm to self or others should call 911. Individuals in mental health crisis should continue to contact the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.

For more information on the National Maternal Mental Health Hotline, visit:

See our Mother’s Day Video.

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CMS Launches Updated Strategic Plan Website

CMS updated its Strategic Plan page to include a new Cross Cutting Initiative (CCI): Oral Health.

Through this CCI, CMS will implement policy changes and consider opportunities through existing authorities to expand access to oral health coverage.

CMS updated the Health Equity Pillar fact sheet that details key actions undertaken by CMS Centers and Offices to advance health equity.

Finally, CMS has added a new fact sheet to the strategy page with updates to the Integrating the 3Ms (Medicare, Medicaid and Marketplace) CCI. The fact sheet outlines how CMS has begun to develop approaches to promote alignment and consistency across programs, promoting seamless continuity of care, including experiences with health care providers and health coverage for people served by the 3 Ms.

Pennsylvania Broadband Infrastructure Program Now Accepting Applications

The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority (Authority) is currently accepting applications for the Capital Projects Fund – Broadband Infrastructure Program (Program) through Monday, July 10, 2023. The Authority has also designed and made available a FAQ document for this program.

The $200 million competitive grant program, funded through the American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF), will target locations that do not currently have access to 25/3 Mbps reliable service. Eligible applicants include local units of government, non-profits, cooperatives, and private entities. The Program will fund extensions of existing last-mile cable modem and fiber-to-the-premise broadband networks as well as large-scale regional projects that can transform broadband availability by serving large numbers of eligible addresses.

Additionally, the Authority has created an online web map to support prospective applicants for this program and future programs. This map shows broadband serviceable locations and community anchor institutions across the Commonwealth. The Broadband Serviceable Locations (BSLs) are categorized into served, underserved, and unserved layers. This map will continue to be updated using the latest available data from the Federal Communications Commission Broadband Data Collection (BDC). We anticipate this map being released and available to the public in the near future.

If you have additional questions about this program, please utilize the following resource account to contact us,

Accepting Nominations: PA Oral Health Awards!

The PA Coalition for Oral Health (PCOH) is accepting nominations for the 2023 PA Oral Health Champion Awards.

Awardees will be selected by the Board of Directors of PCOH, upon recommendation of the Summit Committee, and are based on notable work on oral health progress in Pennsylvania. Awardees will have the option to accept their awards in-person at the 2023 PA Oral Health Summit on November 17th or virtually at a later date. All nominations must be submitted by July 7th at 5 pm.

Click here for more information.

Thriving PA Releases State and County WIC Fact Sheets 

Children need access to quality nutrition to build a healthy foundation for lifelong well-being. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides access to healthy nutrition for infants, toddlers, and pregnant and postpartum women.

Unfortunately, only 56% of eligible Pennsylvania children and families participate in the program. Thriving PA’s newly-released state and county fact sheets show WIC coverage rates in the program. With children up to age five accounting for 78% of participation, ensuring every eligible family can access the program and receive the nutritional support needed for their household is essential.

Through modernization efforts—like moving to an online Smart Card used to access benefits and permanently implementing telehealth policies—Pennsylvania can make the program more accessible to families. Other benefits of the WIC program include reducing household food insecurity and incidences of preterm births and low birth weights, improving diet quality, and improving access to health care and social services.

Thriving PA continues to advocate for increased participation and program improvements that are decades overdue. Learn more at

Chive to Thrive: Thriving PA Delivers Chives to Legislators to Bring Awareness to Maternal and Child Health Needs

Thriving PA, a non-partisan, statewide advocacy campaign seeking to improve the quality of and increase access to a coordinated system of health supports, took to the Capitol last week to bring more awareness to and encourage support of policies to strengthen perinatal and children’s health across the commonwealth.

The delivery of chive plants to legislators aligned with a critical advocacy week, Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, and teased an upcoming report Thriving PA will release this summer that surveyed birthing people in Pennsylvania. Early analysis of survey results shows that 76% of respondents felt they needed care for their mental health.

The campaign also convened focus groups about the lack of access to maternal mental health supports. Maternal mental health disorders are the number one complication of childbearing and a leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths. Currently, the U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate among high-income countries. Thriving PA advocates for access to the health resources and supports needed to give birth to and raise children safely.

PA Partnerships for Children Updates Child Care Online Mapping Tool 

Every child deserves an equal opportunity for quality early care and education to prepare them to learn, grow and succeed. Use our recently released interactive child care maps created for the Start Strong PA campaign to access data by congressional district, state house or senate district, school district or county.

These maps show the percentage of children under five participating in the Child Care Works subsidized child care program who are NOT receiving care in a high-quality program. Specifically, statewide data shows of the 180,480 children under age 5 living in families eligible for the CCW subsidy program, only 25% are receiving assistance to pay for child care. Only 45% are in high-quality child care.

During National Foster Care Month, Fostering Youth Transitions Report Released 

May is National Foster Care Month, where we should take an opportunity to honor those in out-of-home placement and the individuals who support them. In 2021, 20,490 children and youth were placed in the foster care system—many who were unable to safely remain in the homes of their parents or caregivers and others who could’ve stayed in their home communities with community-based services.

We recognize and thank the kinship caregivers and foster parents who have stepped up to care for them. We acknowledge biological parents and caregivers working tirelessly to mitigate the risk and safety concerns that lead to placement. We also thank the caseworkers, providers and advocates on the front lines daily, ensuring that foster children grow, thrive and achieve permanency.

To further highlight the child welfare system in May, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released Fostering Youth Transitions 2023: State and National Data to Drive Foster Care Advocacy. Transition age youth are foster children ages 14 and older who are in or exiting the system to adulthood. This population has poorer outcomes compared to their peers in the general population. The report notes that although the number of teenagers and young adults in foster care has decreased by 45% nationally over the past 15 years, systems are falling short of delivering services to those who are in care.

Read PPC’s press release on the report noting Pennsylvania-specific data and policy recommendations.

Axios PA interviewed PPC Policy Director Rachael Miller about the report.

PA Broadband Authority Requests Feedback on Grant Guidlines

The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority will release grant program guidelines and open its application period for a $45 million Pennsylvania Multi-Purpose Community Facility Program (Program), a competitive grant program that is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund. The Program will target capital assets to include, but not limited to, community anchor institutions such as schools, libraries, recreation centers, community health centers, and other non-profit organization buildings owned or operated by units of local government.

As the Authority finalizes program guidelines, it is requesting feedback on a few items where U.S. Treasury has provided flexibility: match requirements, maximum award amount, and the minimum number of applications that should be awarded. The public comment period for the Pennsylvania Multi-Purpose Community Facility Program is now open. Organizations and individuals are encouraged to provide feedback to help inform the creation of the guidelines.

Please submit feedback by Wednesday, May 24.

Telehealth Providers Cheer DEA Move to Temporarily Extend Virtual Prescribing Flexibilities

From Fierce Healthcare

Facing major backlash to its proposed rules released in February, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is looking to buy some time to reconsider whether it should enforce stricter limits around the prescribing of controlled substances via telehealth.

The Biden administration said at the time that the new rule seeks to provide safeguards to prevent online over-prescribing of controlled medications. Teleprescribing has been touted as a robust tool for bringing medications for opioid use disorder (MOUDs) to rural areas in the ongoing treatment of the opioid epidemic.

The agency received a record 38,000 comments on its proposed telemedicine rules, according to a statement from DEA Administrator Anne Milgram issued Wednesday.

“We take those comments seriously and are considering them carefully. We recognize the importance of telemedicine in providing Americans with access to needed medications, and we have decided to extend the current flexibilities while we work to find a way forward to give Americans that access with appropriate safeguards,” Milgram said.

The DEA filed a draft temporary rule with the Office of Management and Budget titled “Temporary Extension of COVID-19 Telemedicine Flexibilities for Prescription of Controlled Medications.”

Milgram said further details about the rule will become public after its full publication in the Federal Register.

The DEA issued proposed rules three months ago that would reinstate strict limitations on the virtual prescribing of controlled substances and would roll back telehealth flexibilities extended during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed rules would once again require patients to be evaluated in person by a doctor to receive prescriptions for some controlled substances (PDF) including stimulants like Adderall and opioids such as oxycodone and buprenorphine used to treat opioid use disorder.

Provider groups, telehealth advocates and patients submitted comments largely panning the proposal, arguing that it would create barriers to care.

Read more.