Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

DoD Announces Removal of Certain Temporary Regulation Changes Made in Response to COVID-19 for TRICARE

– Comment by July 23. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) issued a direct final rule removing temporary TRICARE regulations established in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. TRICARE is the health insurance program for active-duty service members and their families. Examples of expiring flexibilities include the removal of the temporary waiver requirement for a three-day prior hospital stay before admission to a skilled nursing facility, the removal of the temporary reimbursement of all long-term care hospitals (LTCHs) at the LTCH prospective payment system standard Federal rate and the removal of the temporary waiver of cost-shares and copayments associated with telehealth services. A disproportionate share of veterans live in rural America. According to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Rural Health (ORH), of the nearly 20 million veterans in the United States, 4.4 million live in rural America. 2.7 million, or 61%, of these rural veterans are enrolled in the Veteran Affairs (VA) healthcare system, with 54% of rural enrolled veterans 65 years and older, and 60% affected by a service-related condition.

Deadline to Enroll in COVID-19 Therapeutics and Testing Supply Programs Released – January 26th

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced that the onboarding deadline for COVID-19 Therapeutics and Testing Supply Programs is Friday, January 26. Enrolling in these programs allows access to non-cost supplies in case of emergent COVID-19 needs, to enroll submit a request through the BPHC Contact Form. Learn more about the Testing Supply Program and the Therapeutics Program.

Home Test to Treat Program Launches New National Service for COVID-19 and Flu Tests

The Home Test to Treat program launched as a new national COVID-19 and flu telehealth service that launched for uninsured individuals and those receiving Medicare, Medicaid, and VA insurance. This program is full service in that it provides free access to COVID-19 and flu tests, telehealth consultations, and medications (if prescribed) all from the comfort of peoples’ homes. Home Test to Treat is a program of the NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics. Please spread the word to your networks using the linked communications toolkit.

Click here to learn more.
Click here to access the communications toolkit.

The Commercial Price for Paxlovid Will be 100 Times Production Cost

Last week, drug maker Pfizer released that the commercial list price for its COVID-19 treatment Paxlovid will be $1,390 per treatment course. For comparison, earlier this year experts at Harvard University calculated the cost of producing a five-day treatment course of Paxlovid tablets to be only $13.38. Public health advocates are urging the Biden administration to force Pfizer to lower the price, noting that the Department of Health and Human Services has the legal authority to do so because Paxlovid was developed in part with federal funds. To date, the federal government has never used this authority, even though it has existed in law for more than 40 years.

HHS and Pfizer Reach Agreement to Increase Access to Paxlovid

On Oct. 13, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that HHS and Pfizer have reached an agreement that extends patient access to Paxlovid, maximizes taxpayer investment, and begins Paxlovid’s transition to the commercial market in November 2023. The agreement builds on HHS and Pfizer’s strong partnership over the last three years that enabled the development, manufacture, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics at a record pace.

‘Waiting with Bated Breath’: Health Clinics Are Anxious for COVID Vaccines Weeks after Rollout

NBC News recently covered the growing frustration of the delays in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Weeks after the approval of updated vaccines, community health centers across the country say they are still waiting on their doses to arrive. The delays are preventing many vulnerable adults and children from getting vaccinated ahead of a potential winter wave. NBC interviewed Eric Kiehl, PACHC Director of Policy and Partnership, for the article. Pennsylvania’s health centers, which serve an estimated 1 million people a year, to date received just 900 COVID-19 vaccines, according to Kiehl. While the state health department has prioritized getting vaccines to health centers with a larger uninsured population, health centers that serve fewer uninsured patients “are probably still on the waitlist to get some vaccine,” Kiehl said.

Read About the New HRSA Frequently Asked Question on Acquiring COVID-19 Vaccines

Q: How can I use Expanding COVID-19 Vaccination (ECV) and Bridge funds to cover the COVID-19 vaccine that my health center previously purchased or to pre-order the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine?

A: You may use ECV funds to pre-order planned, but currently unavailable, COVID-19 vaccine to ensure you have an adequate supply of the newest vaccine compilation in the fall. This includes past pre-order costs that have not and will not be reimbursed by other sources. Consult with your Grants Management Specialist if this is a change of more than 25% of your current approved budget. If ECV-purchased vaccines are administered to individuals with payer sources (e.g., Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance), you must seek reimbursement and adjust your financial records accordingly. Reimbursed funds are considered Program Income and must be used in accordance with 45 CFR Part 75.307. HRSA anticipates that you may use the upcoming Bridge funding to pre-order the newest vaccine compilation. However, HRSA also expects there will be requirements on Bridge funding awards for making and documenting reasonable efforts to obtain such vaccines for free. More information will be available when Bridge funding is awarded.