Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

Online COVID-19 Training for Community Health Workers

In rural settings, Community Health Workers (CHWs) act as liaisons between providers and consumers, providing culturally-appropriate health education, making referrals for health and social services, and advocating for individuals and communities within the health service system.  This free online training from the global public health organization, Medical Care Development (known as MCD), covers the various roles CHWs can take in combating the spread of the coronavirus.

CMS Updates EMTALA Requirements and Implications Related to COVID-19

Recently, CMS issued a Memorandum that conveys information in response to inquiries from hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) concerning implications of COVID-19 for their compliance with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The memo was revised to include additional guidance related to the establishment of drive through testing sites, clarification of expectations in relation to the triage process and the medical screening examination, and use of telehealth. Among other topics, the memo address transfers to and from rural hospitals.

Read more

CMS Publishes Update to RHC/FQHC COVID-19 Guidance

On April 30, CMS updated its MLN Matters® Special Edition Article is for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency for services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. The update provides additional details about the new payment for telehealth services, cost-sharing related to COVID-19 testing, additional telehealth flexibilities, and the revision of the bed count methodology for determining the provider-based RHCs exemption to the RHC payment limit.

Read more

CMS Extends Promoting Interoperability Hardship Exception Deadline for Hospitals

If a health care provider is eligible to participate in the Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program, they must successfully demonstrate meaningful use of their certified electronic health record (CEHRT) each year to avoid a downward payment adjustment. Eligible hospitals and CAHs may be exempted from the Medicare downward payment adjustment if they can show that compliance with the requirement for being a meaningful EHR user would result in a significant hardship. To be considered for an exception (to avoid a downward payment adjustment), eligible hospitals and CAHs must complete and submit a Hardship Exception Application. CMS recently extended the deadline to September 1 for hospitals (previously July 1). The deadline to submit a Hardship Exception Application is November 30 for CAHs.

Comments Requested: CMS Issues Second COVID-19 Interim Final Rule 

On April 30, CMS issued another round of regulatory waivers and rule changes during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. These changes build on temporary regulatory waivers and new rules CMS announced March 30 and April 10. Highlights of the waivers and rule changes include flexibilities to increase hospital capacity, health care workforce changes, efforts to reduce administrative burden, and a number of expansions of telehealth in Medicare. For more information on the COVID-19 waivers and guidance, and the Interim Final Rule, please go to the CMS COVID-19 flexibilities webpage.

Health Care Professional Workforce Composition Before and After Rural Hospital Closure

Researchers at the RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis used National Provider Identifier data to examine changes in the local health care workforce prior to, and following, the closure of hospitals in 85 rural communities between 2010 and 2019.  (Note:  a hospital closure can mean a complete closure with no remaining health care services or a converted closure in which the former hospital site provides only non-inpatient services but remains open, e.g., becomes a freestanding emergency department.)

Read more

CDC COVID-19 Updates

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides daily updates and guidance. New this week: 1) updated guidance on caring for someone sick at home; 2)  an interactive map with the number of cases and deaths for each state, and 3) a recording of La Vida Durante la Pandemia del Coronavirus, an all-Spanish webcast from April 29.  CDC also does regular clinical calls for public health emergency response, called Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA).

FCC Report on Broadband Deployment

On April 24, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued its report on access to broadband service in the U.S., with information specific to broadband access in rural and tribal communities and the U.S. territories.

Read more