Rural Health Information Hub Latest News

CMS: “Stay Protected” Publication Available December 1st

A new publication targeting our provider community, “Stay Protected – Get a Flu Shot” will be available for order on December 1. And best of all, there is no charge! In order to request your copies, simply set up an account on the CMS Product Ordering page here:; and once approved, you can order the publication by either searching by the title (above), or entering pub. no. 12115. General delivery time is approximately one week.

USDA Launches AskUSDA, Improves and Streamlines Customer Experience

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the official launch of the AskUSDA Contact Center program. The AskUSDA Contact Center will serve as the “one front door” for phone, chat, and web inquires, transforming how the public interacts with USDA and providing an enhanced experience for the public.

Prior to the creation and implementation of AskUSDA, members of the public had to navigate dozens of phone numbers and had no chat function or online platform for self-service, creating frustrations and inefficiencies.  AskUSDA was created to make USDA more responsive to the public by providing a single destination for phone, chat, and web inquiries. Whether it’s talking to a USDA representative via phone, chatting with a live agent on our website, or communicating with USDA via e-mail, the public will have streamlined access.

The launch of AskUSDA delivers a centralized contact center that offers customer service and consistent information for the public. With over 29 agencies and offices, USDA’s mission impacts every single person in the U.S. and hundreds of millions around the globe. AskUSDA assures that farmers, researchers, travelers, parents, and more have efficient access to the information and resources they need.

AskUSDA is set up to handle common questions across programs that service a variety of audiences. For example, customers who may have basic questions about USDA’s nutrition services can be assisted across phone, e-mail, and web chat by trained AskUSDA representatives, and customers who may have complicated questions about loan programs can be quickly connected to agency experts. AskUSDA also hosts over five thousand articles for a self-service option to help with more common questions such as food safety inquiries or pet-travel guidance.

Over the course of its pilot program, AskUSDA successfully assisted with over 93,000 citizen inquiries, and the AskUSDA website resulted in over 1.4 million knowledge article page views. USDA looks forward to continuing to implement this enhanced best in class contact center across the Department.

The public can contact AskUSDA by phone at (833) ONE-USDA with representatives available 9:00am-5:30pm EST weekdays. The website ( is available 24/7 and includes live chat agents available 10:00am-6:00pm EST on weekdays. Inquiries can also be sent via email at any time to

Journal of Appalachian Health: Volume 2, Issue 4 Available NOW!


Rural Community Toolbox to Help Battle Opioid Epidemic, Liz Carey

Advancing Cancer Prevention Practice Facilitation Work in Rural Primary Care During COVID-19, Dannell Boatman, Susan Eason, Mary E. Conn, Summer Miller, & Stephenie Kennedy-Rea

COVID-19 and Opioid Use in Appalachian Kentucky: Challenges and Silver Linings, Rachel Vickers-Smith, Hannah L.F. Cooper, & April M. Young

Research Articles

Improving Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in High-Need Areas: The Role of HRSA Health Centers, Michael Topmiller, Jennifer Rankin, Jessica L. McCann, Jene Grandmont, David Grolling, Mark Carrozza, Hank Hoang, Josh Bolton, & Alek Sripipatana

In Their Own Words: How Opioids Have Impacted the Lives of “Everyday” People Living in Appalachia , Patricia Nola Eugene Roberson, Gina Cortez, Laura H. Trull, & Katherine Allison Lenger

Qualitative Analysis of Maternal Barriers and Perceptions to Participation in a Federal Supplemental Nutrition Program in Rural Appalachian North Carolina , Sydeena E. Isaacs, Lenka H. Shriver, & Lauren Haldeman

Leveraging Electronic Health Records Data for Enhanced Colorectal Cancer Screening Efforts, Adam D. Baus, Lauren E. Wright, Stephenie Kennedy-Rea, Mary E. Conn, Susan Eason, Dannell Boatman, Cecil Pollard, Andrea Calkins, & Divya Gadde

Review & Special Articles

The Landscape of Connected Cancer Symptom Management in Rural America: A Narrative Review of Opportunities for Launching Connected Health Interventions , Ming-Yuan Chih, Anna McCowan, Sadie Whittaker, Melinda Krakow, David K. Ahern, Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, Bradford W. Hesse, Timothy W. Mullett, & Robin C. Vanderpool

Media Reviews & Reports

Review of: From the Front Lines of the Appalachian Addiction Crisis Healthcare Providers Discuss Opioids, Meth and Recovery , Carl G. Leukefeld

Notes from the Field

Rural Appalachia Battling the Intersection of Two Crises: COVID-19 and Substance Use Disorders, Margaret Miller, Rebekah Rollston, Kate E. Beatty, & Michael Melt

Updates to Medicare’s Online Compare Tool

Starting December 1, will compile the eight online tools to compare providers, such as Hospital Compare, Nursing Home Compare, and Physician Compare, into one place called Care Compare.  It provides the same information but with a new, streamlined design.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services urges providers to update hyperlinks on public-facing websites to the eight original care tools, so patients are directed to the new Care Compare.

Medicare Extreme and Uncontrollable Exceptions Applications – Due December 31

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is encouraging clinicians to submit an application now if there are concerns about the effect of COVID-19 on their performance data for the Quality Payment Program.  Learn more details about how the extreme and uncontrollable exception will change data reporting requirements. Clinicians should cite COVID-19 as the reason for the application.

Emergency Call for Volunteer Health Care Professionals

The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Rural Medicine Program seeks emergency volunteers for Indian Health Service sites within the Great Plains Area. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Indian and Alaska Native persons appear to be disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and insufficient public health resources may contribute to the disparity. Qualifying volunteers are physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, and respiratory therapists who are currently licensed in any of the 50 US states. MGH anticipates that travel expenses will be eligible for reimbursement. Please direct questions to

CARES Act Supports Online Resource for Professional Licensure

The website for the Multi-Discipline Licensure Resource Project was created to support pandemic response through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the FORHP-supported Licensure Portability Program.  Created by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, the site provides up-to-date information on emergency regulation and licensing in each state for psychologists, occupational therapists, physical assistants, and social workers.