- Share Your Community's COVID-19 Innovations Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy
- AHA Names Rural Hospital Leadership Award Winner and Finalist
- OMB: Recommendations From the Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards Review Committee to the Office of Management and Budget Concerning Changes to the 2010 Standards for Delineating Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas
- HHS Awards $90 Million to Support Health Centers in Addressing Hypertension Among Racial and Ethnic Minorities
- Rural Death Toll Passes 60,000; New Infections Decline
- Rural Vaccine Access Varies Widely, Sources Say
- FCC Annual Broadband Deployment Report Shows Digital Divide Is Rapidly Closing
- FCC Announces Initial Projects Selected for Connected Care Pilot Program
- HHS Announces Provider Relief Fund Reporting Update
- HHS Expands Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder
- U.S. Department of Labor Announces $40 Million to Address Rural Healthcare Workforce Shortages
- Record Levels of Infections and Deaths Return to Rural Counties
- Using Lessons from the Pandemic to Reimagine Health Care
- RHC COVID-19 Funding for Previously Unpaid RHCs - Reply Requested by February 12
- Tribal Elders Are Dying from the Pandemic, Causing a Cultural Crisis for American Indians
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center (NHTTAC) is offering free training about trafficking as well as offer resources, and information about COVID-19 in the field on their website. They also offer SOAR Online – a series of on-demand continuing education/continuing medical education training modules that you can complete in your own time. They discuss the SOAR framework, how to apply it to identify individuals who are at risk of, currently experiencing, or who have experienced trafficking and connect them with the resources they need. Access the full CE/CME information and start your online training.
A new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor survey data finds that residents of rural America are among the most hesitant populations to get a COVID-19 vaccine, which could pose a significant challenge for the nation’s mass vaccination effort. The analysis shows 35 percent of people living in rural areas say they probably or definitely would not get a COVID-19 vaccine that had been deemed safe and effective and was available for free, compared to 27 percent of suburban and 26 percent of urban residents who say the same. Read the full analysis.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be providing more than $22 billion in funding to states, localities, and territories in support of the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as directed by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act passed last month. Funding will support expanded COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, surveillance, containment, and mitigation to monitor and suppress the spread of COVID-19 as well as vaccination activities. Pennsylvania (minus Philadelphia) is slated to receive $101,363,520.
The PA Department of Health (DOH) released an update to its COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan with revisions to eligible groups and individuals. To access the current plan and review those eligible for vaccination under the current Phase 1A, click here.
Pennsylvania is scheduled to receive $100 million for COVID-19 vaccine distribution under the second federal relief package. The funding will be used to open mass vaccine clinics, hire companies to deliver the vaccines, and develop a public communications plan. The $100 million amount is more than five times greater than the approximately $16 million available previously from Washington for vaccine distribution in Pennsylvania. The purpose of the hearing was to focus on the challenges of distributing the vaccine and winning public acceptance of it across the sparsely populated landscape of rural Pennsylvania. A recording of the public hearing is available here.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a joint statement on the announcement from the incoming Biden-Harris Administration outlining their emergency relief package. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer endorsed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package released Thursday night. Included in this proposal is increased emphasis on vaccine deployment including efforts to set up community vaccination sites, increasing access to necessary supplies, and additional attention to testing and tracing capabilities. The President-elect is requesting Congress provide $160 billion to fund these programs and execute his national vaccination program. The President-elect plans to create a modernized public health jobs program by investing large sums to fund 100,000 public health workers, nearly tripling the country’s community health worker roles. His plan also places an increased emphasis on addressing health disparities and protecting vulnerable populations.
Timing on the next COVID-19 relief package is unknown. The plan that the President-elect outlined in the release is not expected to be exactly replicated in the final bill text that will be considered by the House and Senate, but rather, it will serve as an opening offer to kickstart negotiations. NRHA expects the House and Senate to use this as a framework for initial conversations when crafting the next COVID-19 relief package. In any future COVID-19 relief package, NRHA is calling on Congress to provide technical changes to rural health clinic (RHC) provisions included in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, make permanent telehealth provisions from the CARES Act, continue Medicare sequestration relief through the end of 2021, and provide sufficient investments to providers through the PRF with a 20 percent carveout for rural providers. As discussions on the next COVID-19 relief package continue over the coming weeks, NRHA will keep members apprised via NRHA Connect.
HHS awarded $8 million to fund the Telehealth Broadband Pilot (TBP) program. This program is designed to assess the broadband capacity available to rural health care providers and patient communities to improve their access to telehealth services. NRHA is excited about this pilot program as the need for reliant broadband has become more important as telehealth becomes a more common form of care.
HHS announced it will be amending the reporting timeline for the Provider Relief Fund Program (PRF) due to the recent passage of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (press release). The PRF portal is open for registration, and the February 15, 2021, reporting date has been extended with no future date set. More information about the new reporting requirements and portal registration can be found here. There is currently no deadline for providers to establish a reporting account in the newly enabled Reporting Portal, but all providers will be required to complete this first step in order to advance and fulfill their reporting requirements once HHS announces the new deadline to do so.
After a brief lull in data reporting, The Daily Yonder’s Covid-19 Dashboard for Rural America is updated with new numbers for 2021. Check it out to see case trends for your area and rural counties nationwide.
By Liz Carey
Vaccination programs are improving, but rural residents need to practice CDC guidelines in the meantime to prevent overwhelming hospitals, Fauci says on RFD-TV’s “Rural Health Matters.”