Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

State Delays Overhaul of MATP Program

Based on findings of a new report, state officials will not award a statewide brokerage contract and will continue to study how to best administer the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP) that aids low-income Pennsylvanians who need nonemergency medical transportation, at least in the short term. The Department of Human Services (DHS) has released its report on the potential impact of MATP being administered by regional brokers for all regions of the commonwealth. DHS oversees the entire MATP and the commonwealth offers and provides funding for MATP in all 67 counties.  To read the full report, click here.

Pennsylvania Preferred Drug List Requirement Effective Jan. 1

Pennsylvania Preferred Drug List Requirement Effective Jan. 1

The Department of Human Services (DHS) implemented a statewide Preferred Drug List (PDL) effective on Jan. 1, 2020. The PDL will be utilized by the fee-for-service program and all Medical Assistance (MA) managed care organizations (MCOs) in Pennsylvania, including those in the HealthChoices and the Community HealthChoices programs. The state believes the PDL will result in administrative simplification for providers and decrease healthcare costs in the long term. DHS estimates the new approach will save the state $85 million a year. DHS estimates that approximately 150,000 Medicaid recipients will have to change their prescription medications as a result of the implementation of the statewide PDL. Read more.


New Federal Overtime Rule Effective Jan. 1

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)’s changes to the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) went into effect on Jan. 1. This rule updates the minimum salary thresholds (previously set in 2004) necessary to exempt executive, administrative, or professional employees from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. The rule does not, however, make any changes to the “duties” tests. This new rule, estimated to impact 1.3 million workers:

  • Raises the salary level from the current $455 per week to $684 per week or $35,568 per year for a full-year worker
  • Raises the total annual compensation level for highly compensated employees from the current $100,000 per year to $107,432 per year
  • Allows employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) that are paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10 percent of the salary level

For more information, details and how this could affect you and your health center, click here. It should also be noted that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) has final rules impacting overtime in the regulatory approval process. Those final rules provide for annual increases to the minimum salary threshold level for “white collar” workers to $875 per week ($45,550 per year) in 2022. Following three years of annual increases, beginning in 2023, the salary level would be automatically adjusted every three years “at a rate equal to the 10th percentile of Pennsylvania workers who work in exempt executive, administrative or professional classifications.” L&I estimates that following implementation of its final rule, an additional 82,000 Pennsylvania employees will be eligible for overtime by 2022. Although PACHC and health centers as well as the PA Chamber of Commerce and many other business stakeholders are on record opposing the rule, it is anticipated that the rule is likely to be approved by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) during it January meeting and that there is unlikely to be a veto-proof majority in the legislature to stop its implementation.


Proposed Senate Bill Targets SDOH

The Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2019 (S. 2986) was introduced in the U.S. Senate in December to create a coordinated approach among federal agencies to address social determinants of health (SDOH) for Medicaid recipients.  The act, if it becomes law, would establish a federal interagency council that would make recommendations on how best to coordinate funding and the administration of federal programs incorporating the use of data to better meet the needs and improve the care for Medicaid recipients.  The council would work to award “Social Determinants Accelerator Grants” to state or local governments or tribal health or human services agencies to fund “programs that would seek to benefit targeted populations, seeking to access and link relevant data to enable coordinated benefits and services that would achieve at least one measurable health outcome and one important social benefit.” Read more.

PA NEN 2020 Annual Conference

2020 Annual Conference Nutrition Education with Public Health Approaches: Building Strong & Healthy Communities.

 Click HERE to register.  As of today we have 116 registrants! Our Keynote Speakers will be:

Keynote Speaker – “Moving from What and Why to How: Recommendations for Addressing the Social Determinants of Health”: Gabriel Kaplan, PhD, MPA, URP, Chief, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Branch of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Keynote Speaker – Collaboration Building – Frances Butterfoss, PhD, MSEd consultant at Coalition Work

Other topics include:

Social media ethics and strategy for food and nutrition professionals: Julie Stefanski, MEd, RDN, CSSD, LDN, CDE of Stefanski Nutrition Services and Food, Nutrition and Dietetics Content Writer for OnCourse Healthcare, a Relias Company

Field trip to Upper Merion Community Garden and Upper Merion Area Food Cupboard

MANNA’s medically tailored, home-delivered meals program and updates on their new research and nutrition institute

PANEN Save the Date 2020 PC High Res_Revised Final 182020

“Low Income Levels” Used for Various Health Professions and Nursing Programs Authorized in Titles III, VII, and VIII of the Public Health Service Act

February 24, 2020


HRSA is updating income levels used to identify a “low income family” for the purpose of determining eligibility for programs that provide health professions and nursing training to individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. These various programs are authorized in Titles III, VII, and VIII of the Public Health Service Act.

Read more

Child and Maternal Health in Rural Areas Lags the Nation, Highlighting Barriers to Access

February 25, 2020

One in five Americans lives in a rural area, including about 18 million women of reproductive age, but key indicators, including mortality figures, show that the health of mothers and children in these communities lags behind that of their urban peers and is worsening. Nationwide, child mortality rates have declined over the past decade, but recent research shows that improvement among infants and young children has been much slower in rural areas. To reverse these disparities and improve overall outcomes, government agencies at all levels, as well as health providers, policymakers, and communities, must combine their expertise and resources to identify effective solutions that address the complex drivers of health and well-being among mothers and their children.

Read more

Nursing Home Closures and Trends, June 2015–June 2019

Provides an overview of the causes and implications of 500 nursing home closures between June 2015 and June 2019. Examines the geographic distribution of these closures, including states in which closures are concentrated in rural areas. Explores nursing home closures in relation to occupancy rates, quality ratings, tax status, and the impact of Medicaid payment policies. Offers recommendations for policymakers and nursing homes.
Sponsoring organization: LeadingAge
Date: 02/2020

Qualifications of Neighborhood-Level Social Determinants of Health in the Continental United States

Results of a study examining 71,901 census tracts, to quantify the social determinants of health (SDOH) consisting of advantage, isolation, opportunity, and mixed immigrant cohesion. Features demographic statistics with breakdowns by 7 multidimensional neighborhood typologies, including Rural Affordable. Offers comparisons between SDOH in Chicago and the rest of the continental United States.
Author(s): Marynia Kolak, Jay Bhatt, Yoon Hong Park, Norma A. Padron, Ayrin Molefe
Location: JAMA Network Open, 3(1)
Date: 01/2020